15 Things I’ve Learned Not to Say at the Hospital


Things I’ve learned not to say in the hospital at the very moment of pain and tragedy:

“Everything will be okay.”

“You’re so strong!”

“Pain is what forces you to grow.”

“God has an amazing plan for your life!”

“God is using this for your good.”

“God just wanted another angel in heaven.”

“It could’ve been worse.”

“At least you’re still alive. At least—”

“Cheer up and stay positive!”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“I understand what you’re going through.”

“Time to pray really hard and read more Bible.”

“God is using this as a wake-up call.”

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

— and other motivational poster clichés.


Things I’ve learned to say in the hospital at the very moment of pain and tragedy (and even then, not every time):

“I’m sorry.”
“How are you right now?”
“I don’t think it’s wrong to be mad.” (Or scared, or hurt, or sad, or weeping, or uncertain.)
“How can I pray for you?”
“I’m always here.”
Or the best thing: listen.

J.S.


Photo by N Medd, CC BY 2.0

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10 thoughts on “15 Things I’ve Learned Not to Say at the Hospital

    1. Because saying, “I’m right there with you,” infers you know exactly what they are feeling and going through. It trivializes their suffering even if it isn’t your intention to do so. Substituting that for, “That sucks, I’m right here for you and whatever you need,” let’s them know you acknowledge their pain/suffering and they can depend on you.

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      1. Only when people ask for a song. Some people take comfort in music. Perhaps we have different definitions of tragedy. I’ve been in the room of very aggressive cancer for multiple people. They’ve always wanted a song.

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  1. I always remind people in any tragedy, “What you’re feeling is real and don’t think it’s wrong to feel ___” because often times many people can’t even comprehend or begin to understand their own feelings and want to reject them.

    This is great.

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      1. I do listen. And it’s not a matter of what I think, but attending to that person’s needs. Some people do appreciate being reminded. Everyone is different, but there’s no need to be shallow about it. If it’s too much for you, then it’s too much for you.

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