what to say to friends in needThere is a popular food movement out there called Eat This, Not That. I have seen the writers on morning talk shows haul out a giant platter of cheese fries and exclaim, “don’t eat this!” and then they reveal this super yummy looking alternative and triumphantly say, “eat that!”

I realized this week that this thinking applies to the comments and remarks that we make to each other. It’s a celebration and naturally we want to give someone a four layer chocolate slab of cake, but really that slab isn’t always going to be so well received. What might be better would be a super perfectly sized chocolate cupcake.

More to the point – there are life situations that we all wade through and sometimes people say the WRONG thing when they just don’t know any better. Unless we have been there, done that, chances are we have no idea what to say to comfort someone going through tough times.

I started to compile a list of life situations and what is OK to say and what is NOT OK to say to someone. There are gaps for you to help me fill. This is your chance to put out there what someone said to you that helped you through. And if you ever find yourself talking to a friend going through something and you are at a loss for words come back to this list and see if the answer is here.




Miscarriage I’m sorry. Were you trying for ANOTHER?
Miscarriage Oh FUCK! I’m trying to have a baby now too!
Miscarriage What can I do to help? Well, at least you lost the baby before you were too far along.
Kid Acting Up Sympathize with the mom or dad. Smile. Offer platitudes DON’T talk about how well behaved your kid is or how your kid would never do [fill in the blank with behavior]. In other words, if you can’t say something nice or constructive, ZIP IT!
Divorce You want to meet up for drinks/coffee/cake/chocolate/shopping? what HAPPENED?, Did you try counseling? I had a feeling that would happen
Big Family What a beautiful family. Oh! You have a big family because you’ve adopted!
Random You are a rock star! I don’t know how you’re coping with all of this! I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I were in your situation.
Death there aren’t any good/great words in most of these circumstances. I just try to make sure my friends and loved ones know I will be there and walk with them through whatever hell they are experiencing. God must have needed them more than you.
Death I know you miss [him]. Well at least you wont have to deal with [their attitude] anymore.
Marriage Let’s plan a girl’s night out! You’ve been married how long to that asshole?
Kid acting up {smile gently and keep on walking} I am so glad that is your kid & not mine. I wouldn’t stand for that behavior.
Messy House Want to meet at my house? Don’t you EVER clean.
Illness Can I pick you up anything to feel better? Stop complaining.
Anything {if “bummer” is what you want to say then simply say nothing} bummer
Selling a house Let me know if you have a garage sale! You are going to have to declutter before you sell..
Hating a job What makes you happy at work? At least you have one, at least you can pay your bills, most people can’t do what they love because it doesn’t pay the bills.
Office chatter Do you want me to get you a Starbucks? Are you pregnant?
Adoption What a beautiful family! What is his Father?
Adoption What a beautiful family! How much did your kid cost?
Misc. Hard Times I am so sorry you are going through this right now. Just remember everything happens for a reason!
Unemployed Let me know if I can forward your resume on to anyone. Now you can write that book/ do home repairs/ spend time with your family!
Unemployed I’ll treat the next girl’s night. I hope you have some savings!
Alcoholic Does it bother you if I drink? But you can just have one now and then, right?
Infertility Let’s do something with just the two of us. Dude, you can have MY kids!
Infertility This next try is going to work! Some people just aren’t meant to be Moms.
Kids with invisible disabilities How about a playdate? The kids LOOK normal.
Autism Mom Can I help you out sometime? You must be supermom. I couldn’t possibly do XYZ.
Adoption Say this Don’t say this
SITUATION {nothing} Is that your real son?
Adoption {nothing} Where are they from?
Adoption {nothing} Who’s the real mom?
Death I am sorry for your loss. They are in a better place.
Infertility {just listen} My husband just has to LOOK at me and I get pregnant! We didn’t even try – ours was an “oops” baby.
Using Donor Eggs {just listen} So your’re not the REAL mom?
Lesbian couple announcing pregnancy or birth Congratulations! How’d THAT happen?
Two Moms What a beautiful family you have! Which one is the mom?
Gay Cool. So what else is going on… So how gay ARE you?….Guess that means you won’t have kids.
death/hard times I’m thinking about you. This too shall pass.
Weight Loss You seem really proud. that’s great! You look amazing/healthy/happy – anything that insinuates that he or she looked less good/healthy/happy before
Hard times I know what you are going through. [only if you really DO] never try to one up someone
Single & Looking Want me to help you pick out photos for your _____ profile with you? There is plenty of fish in the sea. or Finding the right guy/gal takes time.
Weight {NOTHING} You look like you have gained some weight. or You might need to stop eating so much.
Trying to get pregnant {just be there for your friend} Stop stressing so much and it will happen! Go on vacation, get drunk, relax!
Child with disability Your daughter has beautiful eyelashes What is WRONG with her?

Special thanks to Jennifer, Shana, Amy, Andrea, Jill, Tina, Angela, Teresa, Sherry, Candice, Cecily, and other friends who shared.

What is missing? Let me know what to add.

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