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


A friend’s husband unexpectedly moves out. 

Your sister is passed up for the promotion she just knew she’d get.

Someone you care about loses someone close to them.

A co-worker is diagnosed with cancer.

Life is replete with circumstances and situations—some more challenging than others.

With the past week of natural disasters, many of us know someone who has been affected.

We have all been found ourselves in the position to comfort a friend in crisis. As Christians, we are expected to bring light, love, and comfort to others. But for most of us, this can be awkward, difficult and confusing.

All too often, well-meaning loved ones, say the wrong thing out of desperation to “do” something. In the middle of pain, grief, anxiety, depression, and loss, most words of comfort can seem shallow.

So, what do you say when words just don’t seem enough?

I never really gave this thought until after my mom died. I knew people only wanted to help, but honestly, many times their words stung. Or worse, they just stayed away. Since that time, I have been in the position to bring comfort to others from a brand new perspective.

1. Simple is best

I’m here for you.

I love you.

Can I give you a hug?

2. Listen

Many times, when in crisis, we just want someone to listen.

Be sure and make eye contact and nod, letting your loved one know you are listening. Communicate concern and understanding by repeating phrases you’ve heard or even asking for clarification.

“A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc 3:7

3. Keep personal stories to yourself until they have shared

It’s natural to want to share a similar situation, but resist the temptation until your loved one has shared. This is their time to grieve and your time to bring comfort. Ask God to guide your words. Sometimes sharing a similar experience is appropriate and other times it might minimize what your loved one is going through.

4. Pray

Ask if you can pray. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple prayer asking God to bring comfort and love is just fine.

5. Read Scripture

The Psalms are full of comforting verses. Here are only a few.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?” Psalm 27:1

“Now let your unfailing love comfort me,
    just as you promised me, your servant.” Psalm 119:76

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
    a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9


6. Offer to help

Even if your friend says there is nothing you can do, you aren’t off the hook.

Bring a meal. Mow the yard. Watch the kids. Pick up groceries.

7. Check in over time

Often, at the beginning of a crisis, many people are available. Over time, people get back into the rhythm of typical life. Set an alarm on your phone or on your calendar to check in a month, two months, even six months down the road.

Being there for our friends and loved ones during a crisis is a privilege. This is an opportunity to share the love of Christ like no other.

Remember, just showing up with a loving and open heart can be the best medicine.

Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.



About the author : Beckie Lindsey

Beckie Lindsey

Beckie is a wife and mother of three adult children and two adorable cats. She is thoroughly content with a piece of dark chocolate, a cup of coffee, and a great book. She loves to encourage others to not only know the truths of the Bible but to experience them personally and practically in everyday life. Beckie is a freelance journalist, writer, and blogger with two book projects in the wings.

View all articles