Things not to say when someone has gone through a trauma
Everyone experiences traumatic events in their lives. It could be loss of a job, failure of a venture, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or loss of a loved one. When we get to hear of the news, we feel for them and want to call and talk to them if not possible to visit them. Some of us think it is not the time to call and want to leave them alone. Some of us not knowing what to say and feeling awkward about it choose to send a text message. Some of us just do nothing as we are clueless. There are things which may help the other person to hear and there are other things that make them feel more distressed to hear. If you don’t know what to say in such situations you are better off not saying anything. Here are some of the statements that people often make that don't offer any solace to people experiencing trauma.
*You will get over this. Be strong. (I will get over what? What does get over mean? How should I be strong? Why should I be strong?)
*There are others younger than you in the family. You have to remain strong for them. (How do you know I am not the one most impacted in the family? Why is the burden of being strong being thrust on me? Does being strong mean, I should not grieve?)
*This is not the time to be sad. (Really? If not now, then when?)
*It seems all dark now. There is light at the end of the tunnel. (Why is the tunnel there in the first place?)
*You won’t realize the essence of it now. You will realize the meaning of this later. (I don’t want to find that meaning now or later).
*Everything in life is not in our control. (You needed to tell me that now?)
*Everyone has to face this someday. (Everyone does not lose MY dad someday).
*There is some lesson to be learnt from this.(You need help).
*It is part of God’s plan. (My feeling lousy towards you is also part of the same plan).
*Don’t focus on what you lost. See the brighter side of things. Count your blessings.(*&^%$#).
We understand people are trying to be helpful. But saying these kinds of things just compounds the misery for the person. If you don’t know how to make it better, don’t make it worse. Just sitting silently with them for two minutes may help.