I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What NOT to say

Everyone has known someone that has experienced something tragic, horrific, unfair or sad. What do you do? You feel so helpless. You would do ANYTHING to take away the loss and pain that your loved one is feeling but you know it is not possible. So, what DO you say? Here is what I have learned.

1) I love you
2) I am so sorry for your loss
3) You are in our prayers
4) My heart is breaking for you
5) I don't know what to say

1) If you would have done ______ , maybe your baby/child wouldn't have died.
2) He/She is in a better place.
3) Don't be sad, just be grateful.
4) It'll be hard for a few days but you'll get over it.
5) I know just how you feel. My [pet] just died.
6) Just go serve someone else and you won't feel sad.
7) I am SO glad I am not in your place. I could NEVER do that.
8) God must need him more than you do.

Believe it or not, I have heard all the above and more. That said, I know I have not been perfect in the past. I am sure I have said the "wrong thing" at times. I am sure I have also said nothing because I knew not what to say. But in our loss I am learning how to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." I love what I am learning and I love how the Lord is molding me. I would have preferred to learn it another way but the Lord is all wise and all knowing and so I CHOOSE to put my trust in Him.

And hopefully, sometime down the road, when a loved one, neighbor, acquaintance or stranger has suffered a similar loss, I will know how to handle it better because I HAVE been there. I have suffered a loss that has rocked my world. And - in that loss - the Lord has taught me how to succor or "run to" another.

And that makes ALL the difference.


  1. And don't say "When are you going to have another kid?"! That is like saying that their beloved child is replaceable. The decision if/when to have another child is personal and nobody else's business.

    P.S. I just found your blog and I think this is a fantastic idea. I lost a baby girl about six years ago and I always wanted to talk about her. But not very many people felt comfortable just listening - it made them too sad or uncomfortable, I guess. I hope (and expect) that this blog will be therapeutic for you. Your testimony is very inspiring.

  2. When my mom (Aimee's mom too :) ) found out she had MS one of her best friends came over. she didn't say anything and they just cried together.

    Later she's related that to Job 2:11 (I think) where his friends come to mourn with him. and cry together.

    on the other hand she had one lady tell her that if she read her scriptures more or had more faith, then maybe she wouldn't have gotten MS.

    I know losing a child and receiving a health diagnosis are two separate things! But we have had that same "What to say and What not to say" conversation in that regard.

    Sincerely though, Tyler and I do love you, are so sorry for your loss, and are in our prayers!

  3. Those what not to say are so hard to hear. I remember hearing people tell me after my sister passed, oh once the funeral is over it will be better. All I could think was once the funeral is over, everyone will go back to life. And I will have to move forward without one of my closest friends.

    It has been almost three years, and I was telling my husband a little while ago that I was ready to be done with this test. We've done pretty good, we have moved forward, had faith, felt of her love, and now I am ready to call her again.

    Our love continues you go out to your family.

  4. I love this! I had a similar post on my blog after suffering a few miscarriages. I was appalled by the things that people would say "out of love". It often added insult to injury, unfortunately. Miscarriage is a hard thing, in that everyone views it differently. I am saddened that people would not know better when it is your child.

    But at the same time, I need the reminders too. I think I often say nothing, instead of, "I don't know what to say."

    Your blog has already inspired me a ton! Thanks!

  5. I lost my baby the same week you did....I feel like I am healing with you because the things you write are exactly the things I am thinking and feeling right now. So thank you for writing your thoughts. I am sure they are therapeutic to you but they are also therapeutic to me...a total and complete stranger. My heart is breaking for you and with you.

  6. Yes, like Shan said my mom had the spectrum when she got that bad news. I think the lady said, "If you would've had more family home evenings maybe the Lord wouldn't have given you Multiple Sclerosis."

    What??? Weird. Who says that?

    People do try, and like you said, I haven't always been perfect either. Sometimes people stumble over the awkwardness and end up putting their foot in their mouth. I think in the end they (mostly) mean well.

    I am really appreciating your blog. I admire your bravery.

  7. I think everyone has a different reality and different filters and that can sometimes mean that insensitive and even irrational remarks come out of peoples' mouths. One of my dear friends was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and I CAN remember thinking, how do I respond to this - I wanted to be sensitive, empathetic, and validating (see your top list, not bottom.) When it finally came time to express it, I think it came out something like this: Kathy, this really SUCKS, I'm so sorry. She laughed and cried and it was validating - albeit a bit crass, but sometimes life sucks - we expect to live one life (this life we think we've ordered up) and get another one. Why? Who really knows but in the meantime it's painful and agonizing. I think your thoughts apply so well to people who struggle in so many ways - comfort, the way the Savior intends is not to rationalize, to preach, or to pester. Sometimes it's just sitting with the person who has experience death, divorce, illness, loss or sadness of any kind. And most importantly a sensitive nature can be learned (as you are so eloquently doing here - helping people understand what is helpful and what isn't.)

    May the Lord bless you - and He knows best in what ways you need!

  8. Mandy, I have to be honest here and say that this post was uncomfortable for me to read, but also enlightening and humbling. First, it made me reflect on the things I have said to people (and you) and pray and hope that what I wanted to say in comforting them was taken in the right spirit. I would never want to offend anyone or assume that I know how they're feeling. Being human is so awkward sometimes isn't it? But I hope you know I love you, and that I hear everything you say:) Secondly, it made my heart hurt to read the things that people have actually said to you. I know I do stupid things sometimes, but where is the filter people? I guess the lesson in that is not to judge- the giver, or the receiver. And lastly it brought back memories of the crazy innapropriate conversations I had and still have with people who ask me about my gay father and about my mothers remarriage. People don't realize how painful certain topics or questions can be unless they are living in your skin. It has taught me compassion for people who are hurting in their own lives and just want to understand your situation, but it has also taught me patience for people who are just plain nosey and classless... hahaha, in the end all you can do is say "what would Jesus do?" . long story short- Great post, and I love you!

  9. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I am definitely a person that really wants to help out and be of comfort, but end up saying the wrong thing or nothing at all.

  10. I think knowing what to say is the hardest thing. Maybe people put their hopes into words - hoping it will be all better quickly. It is a hard and a messy thing and we all grieve differently. I still have days 14 years later that I really miss and cry for my little sister. It isn't as often now, but it does hit me from out of the blue sometimes. It is a journey, thankfully the Lord is always with us and helps us to heal through it all.

  11. I love this article in the Ensign "Carrying Others to the Pool of Bethesda".


    The article is so enlightening and follows the Savior's example of succoring others.

  12. Amen Amen and Amen!!!!!

    I was amazed at the painful things people said after my son passed away. Then I would feel guilty for being upset with their words of "love".

    The pastor told the people at the funeral not to give words of comfort if there was any chance of accidentally saying something that would hurt us. He told them to just tell us how much they loved us and that they were praying for us. What a wise man!

    Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. This should go in everyones book of etiquette!

  13. Amanda, I had a conversation with your mom when I was there about this. I told her that sometimes I just open my mouth and the wrong words come out, when really I mean the best or just don't know what to say, so I say the wrong things without thinking. : ) I have been learning a LOT. I sure love you guys So much. I hope you always know that, even if I say some crazy things sometimes, : ) You are in our prayers EVERY day! ((((hugs))))

  14. Just read this post via designmom.

    We lived & worked in a funeral he & often people would ask us what to say to the families. Our response was yours. Now 9 years later I feel lik there are some magical words that might make someone feel better, if we only knew those words.

    In 2010 my husband & I lost 5 family members in 7 months. What hurt the most was coming home from funerals & my friends not saying anything & pretending nothing had happend. I know words can be hard to find but sometimes even a text to see how I am can lift me.

    Great post

  15. I am right there with you, when my first born son died after 2 short weeks on earth, I was shocked at some of the things people "say to try and ease my pain and grief". When my little sister said to me "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say", my reply to her was "that was just the right thing to say"

  16. Found your blog via Design Mom. I gave birth to my stillborn son in November of 2009. It was heartbreaking to say the least. I can relate with everything you wrote in this post, thank you for sharing!

    I wrote a similar post over at Marta Writes last July if you are interested at all you can check it out here: http://www.martawrites.com/2010/07/how-to-cope-with-loss-of-baby.html

    Thank you again for sharing your greif, hope and faith.


  17. I just found your blog and I already love it! We found out 8 months ago that our new born baby girl has a chromosomal disorder and we were told that she may never walk, talk, or live into adulthood. I know that what you are going through is drastically different than what I am going through but I too have gone through my own grieving process, and I am still in the middle of it, and I have heard so many things that are very similar to what people have said to you. Thank you for this blog, I will be a loyal reader!

  18. I found your blog today through Design Mom. What a wonderful blog, you have, that you're willing to reach out to others with your story and help the healing for one and many!

    I just miscarried our fourth baby- it was a shock to me about how devastating this is. There are so many levels of grief, some seem worse than others, but isn't loss loss? I know I've a long journey of healing to be made, and thank God for people like you via the blog world that has been such a wonderful source of support.

  19. people really do mean well and i know i have said some terrible things. i saw my friends 11 month old son carried out of the E.R. and put in the coroners van, i said that is just his body, his spirit is with you.now i can see how terrible that must have felt, you love your baby and want their little body. you just try and help ease that pain and don't always succeed, through that process i learned a lot and now just say the things that you mentioned. do not be offended and tell them, you miss your son very much, it was heavenly fathers plan and we do not write that plan!
    blessings to you!

  20. I just stumbled upon your blog, and see so much of your circumstance in ours. We have 4 girls and 1 son who died of a brain stem tumor. I used to hate when people would tell me I was so strong. "You are so strong!!" I wanted to say, "Uhhhh, if I had my choice, I would be in this position, so it isn't a matter of strength, rather just what you were handed" I used to hate that!! I think I have heard all of those comments.


Thank you for being a part of my journey. I appreciate your supportive and healing comments. Here's to a Promise of Sunshine!