What Do you Say to Someone Who' Hurting?


       We all been in this situation. Someone we know or love is going through a crisis. So, we feel compelled to say something that might comfort, inspire or support them. We fumble for the right words, because there is this nagging feeling that something has to be said to show we care.

      Well, allow me to make some suggestions about how to handle this delicate conversation. Let me begin by describing what not to say.  Don’t say’ “I know how you feel.” Or “I know exactly what you’re going through.” The truth is, you don’t. Even if you’ve had a similar experience, no two people can feel the same way in any given situation. The Lord has made us unique creatures who navigate life differently. Grief, anger, sadness or love are experienced based on personality type, life experience and emotional make-up. Trying to relate to someone’ pain by mentioning your pain is very risky. Recently, we had a medical professional visit our home who told us a story about how her friend passed away under similar circumstances. It was clear that her wounds were fresh, since it wasn’t long before she was in tears, with her grief spilling out all over us. Neither Deb nor I knew what to do. We are not in a place, right now, where we could have comforted this person in her grief. Later, we talked about how uncomfortable we felt and how unprofessional this was.

     Here’s another suggestion. If someone is hurting badly, don’t ask them, How are you?” Or How are you doing?” The answer is obvious, they’re hurting! If you feel compelled to say something, try this. “Is there anything you need?” Do you have something specific I can pray for?” A simply, “I’m so sorry you have to go through this.”, will suffice. If you don’t know what to say, then practice what my counselor/friend calls “sacred silence”. This means coming alongside someone without the need to say anything. Sometimes people who are hurting, just want to talk, and they want us listen. They don’t need our advice as much as they need our undivided attention. We can demonstrate that we care by giving someone the opportunity to speak freely, without judgment or a desire to correct or redirect their perceptions. If they are in crisis it’s reasonable to assume that thinking clearly isn’t easy for them to do. Give grace allowances to those who are trying to find their way, amidst their pain.

     One last thing. I want to make it clear that no one in our church family has said or done anything that prompted me to write this blog. I simply wanted to pass along what we learned, onto others. Everyone has been caring and loving, the way a church family should be. I thank each of you for that. So what do the Chericos need? Prayer, prayer and more prayer. Prayer for peace. Prayer for wisdom. Prayer that we can find Jesus in the midst of our pain, as our family and extended family face this crisis together. I talked to Deb this morning and she said, for the first time, that she excited about going to home to heaven, but she feels guilty about leaving her family behind. Please pray that her excitement will overshadow anything else, as she prepares for the Lord Jesus to call her home. Thank you.

Serving the Savior Together,

Pastor John