Friday, February 16, 2007

What To Say To Someone Who Is Depressed

Whenever someone dies, I always struggle with finding the right words to give encouragement to the family. It seems that whatever you say is inadequate. I wonder, are words always the best way to support someone who is having a bad time?

When my parents died, there were many things said to me that I forgot within minutes. I can't recall a single encouraging word. I do remember the hugs, pats and hand holding. I do remember the people who brought food, and the people who sat all night with my Dad in his final days. I do remember the people who drove for hundreds of miles just to be there with me.

That said, words are important. Words are complementary to our physical expression of love and caring. I have preached sermons for Christians and non-Christians alike. I believe that the things I said brought some encouragement to the families, if only for a brief time. One practice that I thought would ease their pain in the days ahead was to write my eulogies. Even though I never write out my sermons, I found that people greatly appreciated the copies of the funeral sermons that I made for the family members. I know that some have kept those for years, so that they can read them over and over again.

Words have their greatest impact when they are heard or written time and time again. That is why I think that what we say to someone who is depressed should be said more than once. Those who have attended my teacher training classes have heard me say, "The key to learning is repetition, repetition, repetition." It is not enough to say to someone who is struggling, "I'm thinking of you," and then to go away feeling as though we have "done our duty." The greater the pain that someone is in, the more frequently we should give encouragement.

It's sad that insults and criticisms stick in our mind like cockleburrs, but kindnesses are quickly forgotten. Perhaps that fact should remind those of us who so desperately need to be encouraged that we also have some responsibility in preserving the memory of gentle words.

Good Things To Say

01-"No matter how you feel, God is still on your side."

02-"I love you!" (with a sincere hug)

03-"I'm sorry that you are having a difficult time. I will help you get through it."

04-"You are not alone."

05-"Have you shared this with your doctor? I would be glad to go with you."

06-"I really don't know how you feel, but I do care."

07-"I'm sorry that you are in so much pain. You must feel lonely sometimes."

08-"I can't fully understand what you are going through. Could we talk about it?"

09-"It must be difficult to pray or read your Bible. I'll be praying for you."

10-"Many strong and faithful Christians have had to struggle with depression."

11-"Can I buy you some coffee and pie? Then, if you want to , we can talk."

12-"God is on your side. He still loves you. God is on your side. He still loves you."

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (Proverbs 12:25)."

["I'm so low I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]


Neva said...

Loved the post. There is a book called Safe Passage by Molly Fumia. I have given it several times to friends who are greiving. It is filled with just short simple statements--pretty cool. I also benefitted from a friend who offered to stay with the kids while I took a walk or a hot bath. It is very comforting when one is there for the mundane parts of life.
Peace to you and blessings for your work,
I also liked, "I love you now and I always will."

Bob Bliss said...

Thanks for the words to say. Thanks, Neva, for the book recommendation. I will look it up.

Brian Nicklaus said...

thanks, brother,

john piper recommends reading to those who are unable to read the Bible themselves.

God bless