Friday, March 30, 2012

Not knowing what to say

Sometimes, when I complain about the inane things that people say, I am met with the following comment: "I guess sometimes people just don't know what to say."

Yes, I understand this.

There are some people who are in the beginning stages, and some who aren't, that it's really hard to talk to. I have tried my best to word things in a way that won't offend them and yet I've still had entire blog entries devoted to me and how I didn't say the right thing to them. I brush it off. I was there once myself. The people who make the innocent remarks really are trying to help and it's not their fault that the person they're talking to just isn't in that place yet.

However, there are some people whose comments are so inappropriate that they are never going to be okay, no matter how thick skinned the person in grief is. Comments like, "Just think of all the money you'll save on diapers now" or "At least he was just a baby so it's not like you got to know him or get attached to him" or "Are you still not over it?" are never appropriate. These go beyond not knowing what to say and verge on maliciousness.

There are some people that deserve a pass. I give a pass to those who tell me that Toby is with God or that he's in a better place, even if I don't believe it. Hey, it's what they believe and good for them. I might question it, but I also understand that they're trying to show comfort in the best way they can. I generally just accept this from strangers, though. If you know me and you start giving me a big religious speech then that's another story.

There are others that should not get that pass, though. They don't deserve the "they didn't know what else to say" card.

There have been times in my life when I didn't know what to say. I had no idea what to say to my friends last month who lost not one but two children in a fire. No idea. I don't know what to say to my friend who's going through problems with city council members and zoning stuff. So you know what I say? Nothing. Or, I say that I am sorry.

Losing a child is not a fixable problem. Nothing you say can make it better for the parent. Nothing you will say will give them comfort. Instead, listen. We don't always have to add our two cents to every situation, just because we don't know what to say. Sometimes, the best things are the things left unsaid.


Maxie's Mommy said...

True!!!!! I think saying "I'm sorry" and then leaving it there when you really don't know what to say is wisest. Maybe "I'm so so sorry". If you know that you are facing a situation where you don't know what to say, just say sorry and then listen. Good advice!

Rebecca said...

I think listening is far underrated. I do believe that many people either want to "fix" the situation (and we know that ain't happening) or want to give comfort to themselves so they say the things that they find comforting to believe. That doesn't make it helpful, though.