Tip Sheet: Kind Words
When someone is hurting, you may struggle to find the right words to say. Instead of searching for the perfect quote in a book or online, look inside your heart and listen to the words used by the person you are supporting. Try using the same words as the person uses to describe someone they’ve lost, or in recognition of what they are feeling.
“I’m sorry for your loss. They were a great person, and you’re right – it’s not fair that they are gone.”
“I will never get tired of caring about you, I’m not going anywhere, and I will respect that you don’t want everyone to know what’s going on. You can count on me to keep this between us.”
Here are a few messages that you can share with someone who has experienced a crime, tragedy or loss:
- I believe you. I’m sorry.
- I care about you.
- You are important to me. You are not alone.
- Be kind to yourself. I am here to help.
- I wish you were not feeling this pain. Thank you for sharing with me.
- I know that this is hard for you. I am listening.
No matter why someone is hurting, your kind words and kind actions will help them to heal.
When you are helping someone who is under stress or hurting, you want to be as clear and concise as possible without being harsh or abrupt. It is an incredible kindness to communicate clearly and effectively with someone you are helping.
Let the person know what they can expect from you, for example, “I am going to check in every day just after lunch. Please answer when I call, and don’t wait if you need to talk. I’m always here for you.“
Get clear consent before acting on someone’s behalf. For example, “I will call the moving company today and arrange for them to come on Tuesday. Is that OK?“
And circle back on all of your commitments, “I called the moving company, and they are coming on Tuesday at 10 AM. I would like to be there to support you because I care about you. Is that OK?“
Tell the truth, even if it makes you feel vulnerable, “I honestly don’t know what to do next. But I want to find out together with you. I am going to call ADVAS and ask for their advice about what I should be doing to help. Are there questions that I can ask on your behalf?“
Remember to simplify, be truthful, and be kind. If you are texting or emailing, type exactly what you mean because the person cannot read your intent.