Back by popular demand, I received such good feedback from my last “Top 6 List” that I am following it up with another. I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite supportive comments which have helped me in several situations where I shared medical news about my children. It is amazing how poignant a few well spoken words can be.
6. I’m sorry
Brief but sincere and sufficient
5. I’m sorry you/your family is going through all this
Same idea, well received
4. That sucks
Call it like it is
3. What kind of B—– were you in your former life that you deserve all of this?
Wow, how was that helpful? It made me laugh and it validated that sick feeling I had for a long time. Why was this happening to my kids? Why them? As their primary caregiver, why me? These rhetorical questions are impossible to answer, but it is comforting to hear someone else ask them.
2. OMG-what reaction do you want right now? Do you want funny? Dramatic? What will make you feel better? This comment referred to when my husband found out he needed to have emergent gallbladder surgery the week after one of my son’s hospitalizations. In all fairness, sometimes we are so overwhelmed we don’t even know what would be helpful. In that case, perhaps it is best to be safe with #6 or #5
1. I wish for you the strength …that I know you have… to get through this.
This made such a great impact on me that I can recall exactly what road I was driving on when I listened to this voicemail for the first time. I was returning home for a respite from the ICU after my 13 month old son Leo was diagnosed with diabetes. Since that time, it has been branded into my memory and serves me well whenever the need arises.
So, what do you say to a person after hearing their bad news? The way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with acknowledgment and validation. Realistic encouragement helps, as well as the offer of concrete advice. For example, it may be helpful to provide the contact information of a great specialist or a family who has been in similar circumstances. Humor can do wonders, but you need to know your audience. In the end, it’s about sincerity and attention. In our fast-paced, multi-tasking, digital world, a simple and genuine remark with eye contact may go a long way.
Thank goodness for all of the friends and family surrounding me who seem to understand this.