What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say


(Reader note: This is a guest post by one of Connie’s blog buddies.  Connie may need to hear from her friends now, too.)

When something bad happens to a friend, aren’t you supposed to step up and offer to be there for them?  You know…after a death, or during a divorce, aren’t you supposed to make it clear they can lean on you if they need to?

I always considered myself lucky in the friend department.  I have lots of friends from all the phases of my life.  From all over the world.  From right in my own neighborhood.

But many of those friends have disappeared on me during my most recent ‘time of need’.

And it hurts.

You see, I’ve been going through a separation.  That separation is now turning into a divorce.  I haven’t gone yelling from the rooftops about what happened in the marriage, trying to make people pick sides.  I’m trying to protect my children from all of that.

But I also haven’t done anything wrong, other than fail at the one thing I wanted to succeed at most in life.  And I’m hurt that those people who know I’m in the middle of a split haven’t stepped up to show they care.

Not everyone knows.  I’ve tried to keep it quiet because I’m ashamed that I couldn’t make it work.  I can’t be angry or hurt by those who don’t know.  But I am angry and hurt by the ones standing around watching from the sidelines, gossiping at the bus stop, swapping ugly rumors at the Friday night get-togethers that I used to host, in the home that I opened to you and your children.

I called one supposed friend out for it recently.  She told me people just don’t know what to say.  I say that’s pretty darn lame.

So, just in case you find yourself around a friend who is hurting, for whatever reason, here’s what you say:

  • I’m sorry you’re hurting.
  • I’m here if you need me.
  • Do you want to talk about it?
  • What can I do to help make this easier?

Any of those would be music to my ears.  I wouldn’t feel so all alone in my sadness.

I would know you care.

But your silence says otherwise.  It tells me I’m losing more than my marriage, my dreams of ‘forever’, and my hopes for tomorrow.  I’m also losing a whole lot of friends.  I never knew I was part of a package deal, or that you’d pretend I was invisible so that you wouldn’t have to ‘be in the middle’.

I’ve learned that just because you have tried hard to be a friend, it doesn’t mean you should expect it of others.  I’ve learned people will disappear on you.  And those people weren’t your friends after all, because true friends, real friends, will be there for you, no matter what.

Those of you who have made the effort to check in occasionally, to offer a hug, or text a smile, thank you.  It has meant more than you will ever know.

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Connie Roberts

Professional Blogger
Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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  1. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say, at least for certain situations . I don’t know who you are guest posting, but I am sorry you re hurting .

    Divorce and seprations are hard enough, you already feel like a ship adrift it is sad to hear you don’t have many lighthouses during this time.