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What NOT to Say to Someone in Pain

Healthy Leaders

What NOT to Say to Someone in Pain

Charles StoneCharles Stone
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Several years ago at a physical therapy appointment I was getting some kinks worked out of my back. As the therapist torqued my left leg into a pretzel, she told me about a friend who recently got news about a life-threatening medical condition. As my therapist shared, she felt unsure about what to say to her friend facing such sadness. Even though I’ve been in ministry over 35 years, the right thing to say to a person in pain still eludes me. What should we say to someone like her friend? Or better yet, what should we not say?

Since our youngest was diagnosed with a brain tumor 28 years ago (and is now doing well), what people have said to us through the years has run the gamut from perfect to really bad. Most people really want to encourage when we hurt, but often they say exactly what you don’t need to hear.

Here are a few statements to NEVER say to someone in pain, no matter what kind of pain.

Words carry great power. The book of Proverbs tells us they have the power of life or death and that a well-placed word is very valuable. This verse is a great one.

The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver. (Prov. 25:11)

I’d love to hear words that you’ve heard or said that were like gold in times of pain.