‘There Is No Good Card For This’: What To Say When ‘Condolences’ Isn’t Enough

This I Believe
Always Go To The Funeral

Enlarge this image So, yeah, we do feel like this sort of internal pressure to come up with a silver lining. And I think a lot of what we go into in the book is that we operate under the assumption that we need to find the right words, and the good news is that Oprah can’t even do that. According to McDowell, pointing to a silver lining can make a person feel like their pain is being minimized. … That’s the one thing we all have in common is that we’re all gonna die. And when you are a person who is going through something, that feels like your pain, which is very real, is being minimized. And so you kind of are off the hook in that really all you need to say is, “I’m here,” and “I’m thinking about you,” and “How are you doing today?” and then let the person talk. Emily McDowell Studio/Courtesy of Harper Collins

On what you should say to a sick or grieving loved one Really, I think it’s all about listening. Nobody can do that. On the problem with finding a silver lining instead of allowing someone to be angry or sad Culturally, we’re just not comfortable with a lot of those emotions and anything that I call “death adjacent,” where the end could potentially result in death — which is ironic because all of our lives will result in death.