Meet the McNeil Family

Meet the McNeil Family

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What TO Say

I have written on this topic in the past, but a very sweet friend wrote me the other day. She wanted to apologize for not being in touch as consistently as she would like to be. There are many reasons why - distance, busy lives, kids, etc. However she was totally honest and said she often doesn't know what to say, so she says nothing.

I totally get that. I wouldn't know what to say to me either.

I blame those stupid lists. What not to say to......(insert people group). Every time I read one of those I cringe realizing I have most definitely said something listed. Talk about pressure!! In an already difficult situation - dealing with a friend who lost a spouse, lost a child, was diagnosed with cancer - we feel we have to say exactly the right thing. Like there is some magic phrase to make it all better.

There isn't any wise word that is going to make the pain go away.

Just say something. Anything.

Now this isn't to say there aren't some idiotic things people say in the midst of tragedy. I have heard many of them. Yet I know the people and I understand their intention is to bring comfort. When I use my "intention filter", nothing sounds wrong.

So for those of you out there who are struggling with what to say, just say hi. Send a quick note letting the person know you are thinking of them. Give them a hug when you see them. Leave some flowers at their door. Call and say, I don't know how to help but I want you to know that I am here for you. Those small gestures mean a lot to someone who feels so isolated by their circumstances.

And to my friends. Comment on the blog. Reading it does not notify me that you are listening. Call me. I am never too busy to chat, I just may need to give you a call back. Send me a quick note or email. I love writing back. And pop by. My house is always open, albeit not always clean.

There. Pressure gone.




24 comments:

Angie said...

Wow, incredibly well stated! And it does speak to so many situations; may have to borrow some of your phrases to share!

GrettaD said...

Lovely words. Thanks for taking the pressure off. :-)

Carrie said...

My father passed away when I was 12 and still do this day I remember what a good family friend said " There is just nothing I can say right now, so I am just here, ok?". Out of everything that was said, that made the most sense and comforted me the most. Letting someone just know you are there is meaningful. Great suggestions you had.

Amy said...

Thanks, Shannon. We think of you and pray for your family often; much love to you. Much love to you and your family from Mark & Amy Hamilton

Jacques Leger said...

I only wish I could have found the words to say just what you wrote...so many times.

Jacques Leger said...

I only wish I could have said what you have written so well...so many times. Thanks for letting everyone know that perfection is truly the enemy of the good.

Hugs to Wavey and Ollie and best to you both.

J.

Mike and Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing this, Shannon. I love the term "intention filter". I love how even in the midst of all of your heartache, you are able to show grace and give people the benefit of the doubt.

Cate said...

Maybe we all need "intention filters." What a gracious approach to the clumsiness of other people! I will carry away the comment left by someone else about a family friend saying "I don't know what to say so I'm just here for you."

Joanne Huff said...

Perfectly stated, Shannon. This is a striking post that will aide so many. xx, Joanne

Anonymous said...

thanks, friend... Your words will enable many to let go of fear and boldly walk alongside. You are loved. We read every blog and look at all the pictures you post. Waverly and Oliver are regularly in our conversations. Praying for you today. May your heart be strengthened as you live each day to the FULL...
HUGS. Sharon

Kristine said...

Well said. It hurts more when people ignore your situation (or pretend it does not exist) and many times a HUG is the best thing that I can get from someone. It's especially hurtful when family members can't figure it out. A hug, a call, a card.....all make a difference to a mom with a chronically ill child.

icansaymama said...

You are so right. It is just impotant to show that you care for someone else. Love this post!

Tamara Sz said...

Thank you so much for this post. I'm one of the ones who stays quiet for fear of saying the "wrong" thing. I hate that. I have friend (not close, but we were co-workers) who is dying of cancer. It has been so hard, from a distance, to know what to write to them. But you have encouraged me, to not only pray, but to write some words of encouragement. Thank you.

PK said...

Excellent advice. If we lived nearby, I would certainly stop by to say hi occasionally. Do know that many of us who are too far away to stop by do think of you, pray for you, and wish we could give you all hugs.

Becky Thurmond said...

Lovely post. I read all of your posts and enjoy the pictures of the kids and hearing both your eloquent and everyday kind of thoughts. I think of your family and especially your kids often and pray for you all. I hope that I could meet Oliver and Wavey in person someday and introduce them to my kids. Thanks for being so gracious and for sharing your story and life with us.

Your "intention filter" concept is something I need to adopt!

Warmly,
Becky

camille said...

I wished we lived closer so we could pop by! Thanks for sharing this important post. xoxo.

Erin Thompson said...

I'm still reading, and still care about your kids and family! I'd love to visit them ( and you! ) sometime this summer!

Kathryn said...

Hi :)

Kamarah said...

Well said Shan! Love you!

JackieNj said...

Hi Shannon,
I have been reading your blog for about a year. I am from Kenya (Africa) and I admire your courage&love for your children, how you have fought for them like a lioness fights for her cubs. I never commented because I didn't know what to say but you and your babies are in my thoughts and prayers.
hugs from across the world.
jackie

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Kim said...

Shannon,

I haven't met you but I am an FSO and a big fan of Matt's as he has given me a lot of support in the CA world over the years. I just found your blog. I wanted you all to know that I am praying for your family, for peace and comfort for Waverly and Oliver, for wisdom for the doctors and researchers in hopes that they find a cure. AmazonSmile has an MPS organization as a recipient benefactor that people can sign up for and when they shop Amazon through AmazonSmile, part of the purchase goes to the organization. Not sure if you were aware but wanted to pass that on. I hope someday I am fortunate enough to meet you and the children. Kim

Anonymous said...

So perfectly written and true. I remember after my mom passed and I went back to work. Several coworkers (who worked right by me) never said a word. it hurt me but found out later they said because they didn't know what to say. I told them two words would have been enough "I'm sorry". You write so well and think you should write a book because I think you can teach a lot of people a lot of things! You're amazing and I will keep you all in my prayers.

Lizzy Moore said...

I don't know you but we have mutual Taylor friends. I have followed your blog for several years. I just want to say, I'm so very sorry...
Lizzy