What Should I Say When?
He’s leaving me.
I’m an alcoholic.
My daughter doesn’t believe in God anymore.
My mom had a stroke.
“Let’s pray.” Then pray, right then and there—over the phone or in person. Ask for wisdom, courage, peace. Admit that you don’t know what God has planned but that you know he will carry you. Then let the person know you will keep on praying for him or her.
“This stinks.” (Or a stronger word for stinks, if you want.) Or “This makes my heart hurt.” Because it does. Bad news is awful. Life is hard. So let’s not try to whitewash the pain.
“I will be bringing you a meal. Does next Tuesday work?” Or “Which day would it help for me to watch your kids?” Make sure your suggestions are concrete. A vague “How can I help?” means the person has to come up with a way for you to pitch in when he or she already has enough to think about.
“I wish I had the right words. This must be draining for you.” Job’s friends sat with him in silence for seven days. You don’t have to fix the problem, just be there.
“Do you need someone to go to the doctor (or lawyer or support group) with you?” If you are a close enough friend, offer to be an advocate and part of your friend's support circle. Facing the hard stuff alone can be scary.