This week’s article is short, but sweet. And helpful.

I want to teach you how to comfort people in their suffering. The three pals of Job were horrible comforters and their modern counterparts roam the face of the Earth.

First, when you see a single woman, can we make a promise? Stop asking her, “Why aren’t you married yet?” That’s the worst thing to say.

A single friend who is in her 30s told me, “Bo, I just don’t join family gatherings anymore. Because I have these two aunties who—every time they see me—ask me, ‘Tess, why are you still single?’ Then they follow this up by saying, ‘Your biological clock is ticking.’ Do they have to remind me? My biological clock is ticking so loudly, that’s all I hear. I want to give them a taste of their medicine. I want to ask them, ‘How about you, Auntie? How does it feel being old and menopausal? Do you think you’ll get Alzheimer’s? When do you think will you die? 80? That’s just 15 years from now.’”

These people mean well. They love their niece. But they just do it in a bad way. My recommendation? Don’t talk about a single person’s singleness. She is living a full life—talk about that.

Second, when you see a childless couple, don’t anymore ask, “Why don’t you have a baby yet?”

Do you think they’re not asking the same question? Do you think they will say, “Wow, thank you for reminding us. We almost forgot having a baby…”

Childlessness must be their constant worry. They don’t need the added pressure from you. Keep your mouth shut and pray for them.

Third, when you visit a wake, don’t tell the bereaved family, “You don’t have to be sad. She’s already in Heaven.”

Yes, she’s in Heaven. But people have the right to be sad. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept (see John 11:35). Even if Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus in a few minutes. If Jesus cried when a loved one died, we can too.

Or when you meet a woman who suffered a miscarriage, don’t give glib answers like, “You can try again…”

Goodness. She’s a mother who just lost her baby. And you want her to try again? Let her grieve.

Here are things you can say…

  • I don’t know what to say. (Be honest!)
  • I’m so sorry for your loss.
  • Whenever you want to talk, I’m here to listen.
  • You and your family will be in our prayers.

But do you know what I learned? Many times, you don’t have to say anything. Embraces are better than explanations. Warmth is better than words. Silence is better than sermons.

Just be there. Send your deepest and sincerest sympathies. And just love.

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez