What to Say to Someone Who Is Hurting

What to say to someone who is hurting

In those days right after it happened, most people didn’t say anything.

It’s understandable. People don’t know what to say and they don’t want to say the wrong thing. So they just don’t say anything. I’m guilty, too. Too often I assume it’s better to remain silent than to say the wrong thing.

But plenty of people spoke. Many of them probably shouldn’t have.

  • There was the one who told me to “get over it” because “everyone has special needs.”
  • There was the person who insisted she understood because even though her son didn’t have special needs, he got teased in school for being short.
  • There was the person who told me that I just needed to communicate better and it would work itself out.
  • There was the person who told me I needed to step back and let my husband handle everything.
  • There was the person who said, “We prayed about this. This is what God told us to do.”
  • There was even the friend who promised to stick by my side and help. . . and who then disappeared.

All of these were church people, several of them on staff. All of them were responding to a situation in which my then 6-year-old son was excluded for the first time. All of them seemed shocked that I would be upset about his exclusion.

What to say to someone who is hurting

But in the midst of the emotional upheaval, there was one person who somehow knew just what to say.

Thing is, she and I had started out friends but had a falling out. We hadn’t spoken in a couple of years. With our friendship severed, I didn’t think I could trust her.

She was the last person on earth I would have expected God to use that day. But God’s funny that way. And years later, I’m still thanking Him for giving her the boldness to approach me that day.

“I heard what happened,” she said.

“Yeah,” I fumbled, not knowing how to respond.

“It must be really hard,” she said. And I hugged her like she was the last person on earth. Because that’s what she felt like to me in that moment.

Here I was with all these people talking to me and at me. So many were offering their two cents. But I still felt like I wasn’t being heard.

Apparently all I needed was for someone to say, “it must be really hard.”

  • She didn’t minimize the pain, even though special needs is not a personal struggle in her life.
  • She didn’t sugarcoat the situation, implying that it wasn’t really as bad as it seemed.
  • She didn’t pry for more information so she could go and gossip about it.

All she did was express a little empathy. And I will never forget it.

Want to change someone’s life?

Maybe you know someone who’s going through a hard time. Perhaps you have special needs families at your church who are struggling. . . and maybe you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing so you don’t say anything.

May I offer some advice?

A little empathy goes a long way.

I know you may not understand what they’re going through. It might seem illogical to you why a parent would get upset over what seems to be a small thing from your perspective.

But would you be willing to give the benefit of the doubt and just come alongside that person? All you really have to do is acknowledge the pain.

My friend was one of very few during the entire traumatic event who simply acknowledged the pain I was feeling. She didn’t run from my pain. She wasn’t scared of it.

All she did was express how hard it must be. She empathized. And that empathy was a much needed balm to my soul.

You could be that person for someone.

I urge you to do what my friend did for me that day. Come alongside the hurting. Recognize the pain for what it is and don’t be afraid to name it. You don’t have to solve everything. Simply be the voice of compassion, the voice who says, “Ouch. That must really hurt.”

You could change someone’s life with one simple phrase.

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What I’m Reading {Quick Lit April 2015}

what i'm reading april 2015

It’s time again for a mid-month report on what I’m reading. I’m linking up today with Modern Mrs. Darcy for the Quick Lit linkup.

This month has been pretty slim in the reading department. I’ve just finished up three intense weeks of choral contests and piano accompanying, so there hasn’t been much time to devote to books.

What I’m reading right now:

The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith (a.k.a. The Nester)

I bought copies of this a year ago as gifts, and yet I’d never read it myself. So glad I finally did. I love her decorating philosophy: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Gives me courage to try some new things to cozy up my home.




Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Series Book #2) by Diana Gabaldon

I finished this one on Audible just in time for the return of the TV series. These books are long, but I like the narrator and I just take my time. A



The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

I was really excited about reading this, since I loved Never Let Me Go. Yeah, um, this book was nothing like that one. This is a fantasy novel that’s supposed to have a deeper, hidden meaning. Unfortunately, I never figured out what it was. It could be because I listened to the audiobook instead of actually reading it, and I got so bored at times that I was completely tuned out. A disappointment. Still, if you haven’t read Never Let Me Go by this author, I highly recommend it.



The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I’ve seen lots of positive reviews for this book, so I checked it out at the library. I’m a little over halfway through (it’s a quick read) and I’m loving it so far.




Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

This is the sixth novel in this cozy mystery series. These are fun books, not too deep, just good mysteries. I like to listen to the audio versions of these because I love the narrator. . . especially when he talks about croissants, which he does a lot. I’m about halfway in on this one.


And that’s it so far this month. I just checked my Goodreads challenge and I’m nine books behind schedule for my reading goal. Aaaargh! I need some quick easy reads to pump up my list, so please give me your suggestions!

As always, you can check out everything I’ve read and am reading on Goodreads. Send me a friend request and we can be reading buddies!

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How Jesus Views Disability

how jesus views disability

Because I’m an autism mom, I talk a lot about disability (or special needs) on this blog. 

Since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve become a self-proclaimed advocate for people with special needs and their families. My goal in writing is to share my story and my struggle — and to help others know they are not alone. There are people who understand. There are others who know how hard it is.

In my family’s disability journey, our struggle hasn’t been with the schools.

For us, the struggle came where we least expected it.  It happened at church and it broke my heart.

But it made me passionate about inclusion, about educating congregations and advocating for people with disability within the life of the church.

A year or so ago, I saw a video on YouTube that blew me away.

The pastor in the video refers to Jesus as a “dis-abled” person.

How had I never seen it before? How had I missed the very idea of Jesus as disabled?


How Jesus Views Disability

Of course Jesus would do this. It’s just like Him. Of course He would take on our infirmities, our sorrows, our disabilities — because this is what it meant to be God incarnate.

I’m sharing more of this story over at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos today. Won’t you join me over there?

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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