“Let me know if there is anything you need” has been a dependable statement of empathy my entire life. When someone is suffering and I don’t know what to say…it comes the closest to expressing how I feel.
However, I just discovered it’s the wrong thing to say!
According to Bruce Feiler, we’re not really helping the other person with that cliche. He says “while well meaning, this gesture unintentionally shifts the obligation to the aggrieved. Instead of offering ‘anything’ …just do something.”
I recently found out a good friend of mine is facing the end of a two year battle with small cell carcinoma, a highly aggressive cancer that began in his lungs. I was at a loss of words and almost defaulted to the “let me know…” cliche when God tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of Bruce’s article. So, I dug a little deeper.
I discovered that his wife was refusing to help plan his arrangements because she didn’t want to give up. That made sense…so, I offered to help him organize those plans. That turned out to be a tangible way I could help.
The next time you are tempted to default to cliche’s…just do something!
Thanks for listening.
PS: Please read Bruce’s article. It gives awesome advice on how to engage and be a real friend!