July 3, 2012

Give Sympathy. Not Advice.

For better or for worse, Facebook now gives us exclusive access into the highs and lows of our friends and acquaintances.

And I have noticed a peculiar pattern of comments which inevitably arises every time someone makes their small or large tragedy public.

We try and cheer them up.

A cat dies. A bad medical diagnosis. A job loss. We desperately try to fix the situation with a petty turn of phrase.

"Think of all the good times you had with Mittens!"

"Everything's going to turn out ok! I just know it!"

"When one door closes, another one opens!"

Why can't we just let people mourn? Why can't we, just for a moment, allow people to sit in the reality of their suck? Why can't we join them?

When your friends go public with their grief, they aren't looking for your advice. They're looking for your empathy.

So don't try and fix the situation. Because you can't.

Simply say, "I am so terribly sorry."