From “Everything happens for a reason – and other lies I’ve loved” by Kate Bowler:
Appendix 1 – absolutely never say this [my comments added]
- Well, at least… [minimizing]
- In my long life, I’ve learned… [good for you, have a medal]
- It’s going to get better, I promise. [fantasy]
- God needed an angel [only if you watch Ghost, and you think God is sadistic]
- Everything happens for a reason. [let’s see if you appreciate my theories when you are drowning]
- I’ve done some research [have you heard about… Forget what the professionals say, there’s bound to be a secret cure out there]
- When my aunt had cancer [living it, thanks, would rather not have to relive someone else’s – particularly if this my opportunity to NOT think about it]
- So how are the treatments going? [not nice to have to summarise it and regurgitate it constantly, please check first if I want to talk about it today, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t]
Appendix 2 – give this a go
- I’d love to bring you a meal this week [bring me anything, I don’t really know what I need, what are you good at?]
- You are a beautiful person [nice to know you are doing a good job – without this being some sort of lesson. And don’t make it sound like a eulogy]
- I’m so grateful to hear about how you’re doing, and just know that I’m on your team [nice to not have to give you an update, great that you’re informed and concerned, let’s talk about something else]
- Can I give you a hug?
- Oh, my friend, that sounds so hard [sometimes it feels like no one wants to hear about how awful it is – simmer down, let them talk]
- (silence) [the truth is no one knows what to say – pain, tragedy are awkward. So show up and shut up)
Sometimes our role is just to sit in the rubble with families (Judith Murray).
See Spiritual Care.