Here are a few things NOT to say to someone who has suffered a catastrophic loss:
It could be worse…
Of course it could…but it’s not and the fact remains that it’s really bad despite any “worse” possibilities. Coulda, woulda, shoulda non-thought experiments are pointless. Why is that such a hard concept for people to understand? What is is what is. We react to/act on what is. So saying it could be worse is not only stupid but diminishes what is a horrible thing.
Count your blessings…
Really? You don’t think we already did? Of all the pretentious nonsense I’ve heard in the last four weeks, this ranks up there as one of the most inane. Does it make you feel better? Because it does not make me feel better to hear it.
At least what? At least only our pets died? At least we only lost as near to everything as possible?
How about these actual quotes?
“At least you’ll get a new house.” Sorry. I liked my old house.
“At least you’ll get new clothes.” I didn’t want new clothes.
“At least your children got out.” Obvious. And just as inane. We’d be having an entirely different discussion if they didn’t. But….as they did, why are you even talking to me if that’s all you can come up with?
“At least I’ll never remember everything we lost.”
“At least I’ll get a chance to spend the next six months or longer not living the life I wanted and instead spend my time fighting with insurance, contractors, attorneys, product manufacturers, shopping for things we already owned!!!”
This too soon shall pass
Change places and let me know if that works for you. Time’s arrow only points in one direction so of course it will pass. That is something simple-minded people buy into. The only thing that will erase the memory is amnesia or brain damage.
You need to get past (get over) this…
I’ll decide what I need to do and when I need to do it. I can’t promise that I won’t go postal on the next person who says something like that to me.
So…what should I say???
Try, “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do”?
Or, “I’m thinking of you.”
Keep your pithy platitudes. They are vaporous, useless, mindless, nothings.
Don’t tell me how to feel. I’m angry and that won’t change. Probably ever.
Don’t tell me what to do when I do feel something. Hasa diga.
Don’t tell me how long to feel something. I don’t forget, but I might someday not think about it.
If you can’t say or do anything that is not trite, just don’t.