It’s always a struggle of what to say to someone who is hurting emotionally.

Sometimes though, in our effort to make a difference, we say the exact opposite of what someone needs to hear when they are hurting. Can you relate?

We all need someone to hear us, understand us and accept our truth-telling with empathetic responses to someone who is hurting. Being that kind of friend, colleague or family member takes a few communication skills to help deepen those relationships most important to you.

With a little bit of effort, you can provide comforting words for a loved one in pain.

With that said, here are some common phrases we tend to say that don’t quite work, along with supportive phrases for someone going through a tough time. Options that offer comfort, peace, understanding and of course, our loving presence.

What not to say:

“I know how you feel.”

When someone is deeply grieving, it’s difficult for anyone to know the depth of their unique pain. You offer comfort when you acknowledge what they going through.

Say this instead:

“I cannot imagine how difficult this is for you.”

What not to say:

“Are you doing okay?” or “How are you doing?”

These common conversational questions could feel like you aren’t compassionately asking a real question. A slight rephrasing can make all the difference.

Say this instead:

“How are you holding up?”

Other phrases to avoid and not say:

“You’ll feel better before you know it.”

“You’ll get over it.”

“Give it to God.”

“It could be worse.”

“You need to trust God’s timing.”

“Let go and let God.”

“I’m sure it would never happen again.”

“I know what you’re going through.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“Don’t cry.”

“If you need anything, just call me.”

“Be strong for your family.”

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

“Don’t let it rob you of your joy.”

“Quit focusing on it.”

Say these phrases instead:

“I’m sorry you’re going through this.”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“When this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you.”

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

“Tell me more…”

“Can I pray with you right now? Will that help?”

“I am so sad at how much you’re hurting.”

“This is so difficult.”

“Wow, I’m honored you’re sharing this with me.”

“Your courage is inspiring.”

“There are no words.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I wish I could say something to take away your pain, but I don’t. I’m here to listen.”

“I love you, I’m sorry this is so hard.”

And of course, one of the best things you can say when someone is hurting, is quite frankly, nothing. Sitting and being with someone who is hurting is one of the most precious things you can do for someone. Occasionally nodding your head, and just listening.

Most of the time someone simply needs a lending ear, no advice, just an ear.

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Related Articles:
The Power of Your Words
Navigating Grief and Guilt: Embracing Gentleness in the Healing Process

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