What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the messages I’ve received since I wrote about Tiger’s passing because I know when someone loses someone they love, it can be hard to know what to say. 

Saying anything is a good start. 

That said, one idea/theme I discovered both gave me permission not only to feel everything I might be feeling, but also helped me feel a bit better was when someone said,

“Tell me about him….” 

Why do I think this is useful in the face of loss?

Because it allows the person who is grieving to stay inside their experience—to keep their memory alive by talking about them. 

Why else do I think this works? 

Because the open-endedness of, “Tell me about him…” allows the person to—essentially—“free skate”; to talk in as jumbled a way as works for them, which can be nice if their executive function is overloaded.

Questions along the lines of, “What’s your favorite memory/what did you love most?” have the potential to land like, “Have you read any good books lately?”…A question which always stumps me. (When I hear it all I can come up with is that I read a really good article in “People” while I got my hair cut…) 

So while I hope the remainder of your, and your loved ones’, summers are filled with nothing less than joyful experiences, I recommend tucking away, “Tell me about them…”  

It will bring comfort to those who need to hear it. 


Confronted by other difficult situations? Take a look at, “Intimacy Terrorists, Psychic Vampires, and Foul Weather Friends”