When you don’t know what to say…


“When the cat has got your tongue, There’s no need to dismay…”

  ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ from “Mary Poppins”

If only ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ could work every time. Sadly, when someone you care about is grieving or suffering, even this fabulous word doesn’t help very much… I watched a video made by “Stylist” Magazine about  “How to talk to someone who has experienced a miscarriage”). Click on the link and watch (and probably cry)…It’s important and informative; raising awareness about miscarriage and giving very practical advice on how to support those who have experienced this awful grief.

I’m not planning on trying to start a family yet but I am grateful to have seen the video because, to be honest, I didn’t realise how common miscarriage is. If you want some more information, please visit The Miscarriage Association‘s website. You should also check out my amazing friend Lucy’s blog here. We need to stop this issue being something that women and their partners suffer in silence…and learn how to help.

The video also made me think about how we talk to those who have experienced grief of any kind…bereavement, relationships ending, job losses…

“At least they didn’t suffer/passed quickly”

“At least they aren’t suffering any more”

“There will be other chances/relationships/jobs”

“It wasn’t meant to be”

“You’ve just got to get over it and move on”

Sound familiar? I’ve definitely said and heard all of the above on several occasions. When I’ve said these stock phrases, it has always been from a place of love and a desire to comfort someone in pain. On the receiving end, sometimes those words have helped…but sometimes they’ve hindered. So…what on earth do you say? How can you help someone who is grieving?

Brené Brown summed it up perfectly when she said:

“Rarely can a response make something better…

What makes something better is connection”

She is a smart lady. Have a listen to her talking about empathy here.

When trying to help someone who is grieving or suffering , I struggle not to overindulge on empathy to the point of self-projection…

“I know how you feel because when I didn’t get that job/flunked that exam/my dad died/my gran was ill…I felt…”

While this response is from a caring place…It’s actually not that helpful or truly empathic. I DO NOT KNOW HOW ANYONE ELSE FEELS. I AM NOT THEM!! Relating my story may give someone a hint of comfort or it might just frustrate them..in either case, it’s not actually allowing them to be present in their own story.

Perhaps, the solution when you can’t find the words to console someone is just to allow some silence. If, like me, you struggle with this, say ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ IN YOUR HEAD… Just be there. Let them speak. Tell them that it’s ok for them to feel the way they are feeling. Give them a hug…and maybe a cup of tea.



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