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The One Thing I Wish People Would Stop Telling Me When I'm Ill

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I know you mean well, and I know a lot of people don’t know what to say to someone to cheer them up, but telling me “it could be worse” is not what I want to hear. This is what I hear: my problem doesn’t mean anything, I’m ungrateful, I should be happy for the situation I am in and you aren’t acknowledging what I’m telling you.

When you are going through something difficult, that moment (or moments) is the worst it could be. Whether it’s being in the hospital, having a difficult day at work, money problems, relationship issues… stop telling me it could be worse. For me in that moment, it can’t get any worse. It sounds like you are brushing off my problem and it means nothing to you. My mom used to tell me this when I was in the hospital and I hated hearing it – I still do. When I was in the hospital, she would remind me that other kids had it worse. It felt like I couldn’t be upset about my own problems.

I get it, we don’t always know what to say when we are comforting a friend or family member. I too have felt helpless and not sure what to say when someone I love is going through a difficult time, but I’ve learned from my own experiences.

Here are some tips:

  • Check in with this person; let them vent. Agree with them that their life sucks and acknowledge the shitty situation they are in – it’s OK.
  • Let them be angry/upset. When I’m upset, I don’t want to be cheered up. Get angry with me! These emotions are meant to be felt and bottling them up doesn’t help.
  • Know what your friend/family member likes. For instance, you can send them funny memes or YouTube videos to distract them. But everyone is different – maybe they enjoy celebrity gossip or political discussion instead.

Could it be worse? Yes, it can always be worse. It’s just not something I want or need to hear.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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