Do you know what?
Sometimes, when people are feeling sad or peaky, we really don’t know what to say. Phrases like ‘Cheer up!’ or ‘It is what it is’ or ‘Toughen up’ can sometimes spill from our lips. Expressions like ‘tough love’, ‘big girl panties’ and ‘sad sack’ might swirl in our heads.
Of course we’re probably not 100% behind those responses. It’s just that they’re the kind of Wrongtown defaults we might have encountered in our own lives when we’ve felt a bit crap. Annoyingly they might even pop out of our mouths unexpectedly. Then it’s very hard to put them back in, right? Ugh.
It’s not just Wrongtown responses that are a bit unwanted in the talking-to-a-sad-friend game. Sometimes a friend or family member’s response to tough times might be to be very, very, very quiet. Indeed, we might say nothing at all to our under-the-weather pal/kin.
We might be so worried about saying something counter-productive or triggering that we just shoosh up completely. *crickets* It’s an understandable, cautious approach, but can be pretty isolating and confusing for the sad person in question. They might think we’re rejecting them or that we don’t really care when really, the opposite is true.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in my quest for nicer times – and in my quest to be a better pal/human. Then I figured YOU might be thinking about this kind of stuff, from time to time, too. So in the name of nicer times and more friendly friendship (or family-ship!) here’s a list of things that might be slightly less jarring than the age-old ‘Cheer up!’
24 non-wrong things to say to the sad person in your life
- Can I help by doing x y or z? Or is there something else I can do?
- This is a temporary-yet-painful situation. It won’t always be like this. And bloody hell, you are right, it DOES suck.
- It IS hard to imagine a way out of this mess. We can think about where to start chipping away together after we eat these biscuits.
- I’m here to listen whenever you need me. No matter when or why.
- I’m so glad we’re friends. Remember your x, y and z (insert character traits and strengths) are what brought us together? So pleased I met you.
- I’m sorry you have to go through this. *insert hug*
- What are your thoughts on what’s going on and why it’s like this?
- Sorry if I sometimes say stuff that shits you, but know that I’m here and I want to be the best pal I can be for you. Let me know if I stuff up so I can learn to do better.
- It’s so good to see you here. I know you’ve got a lot of stuff going on. So glad that the planets aligned today and we get to hang out.
- Can I take your pet/child/partner/housemate out for the day?
- Can I take you out for the day? For a drive? Get away from the usual and sip cold wine in a gastropub or some-such?
- Here are some dumplings for you.
- If you need someone to co-pilot with you at the GP, I’d be so happy to be that person.
- I’ve made you something delicious. When can I leave it on your doorstep/kitchen table?
- Can I come over and take you for a big walk? We can look at trees and stuff quietly, or we can talk… or not.
- I can see you’re trying your best. That’s all you can do. Nice one.
- I think this might be an Uncle Buck/Ghostbusters/Young Ones-and-hot-chips-and-g-and-t kind of day. What time should I bring all the laughs/carbs/booze over?
- So today was a bit of a cock-up. Meh. It’s okay to be messy. Forgive yourself and hope for a radder tomorrow.
- You have a nap. I will tidy up and make dinner.
- Can I assist you to find some more help with this? I think some extra support might offer a fresh perspective and maybe a little relief.
- I’m not sure of the best way to help, but here is a bottle of Prosecco and some tissues. Where shall we sit?
- It’s not okay that you’re having to endure this. I’m here to help in any way that makes sense to you. Let’s start small. I wonder what small thing can we do to shift things a bit?
- I’ll call you again tomorrow to see how you’re going. (repeat daily)
- Yes. Sometimes pets ARE the most supportive people. So true.
Of course, these are just a little kick-start to the sad-pal-response-team game. Perhaps you have some great ideas of your own you’d like to share? Or maybe someone has said something compassionate to you when you were feeling terrible? Something that made a difference and did not make you want to bury your head under a pillow?