Category Archives: how to handle socially

What to Say to Someone Who’s Going Through Hell (Part 1)

Nothing feels more socially awkward than going through tough times. It’s hard to admit to myself and the world that some of my wildest nightmares, not my wildest dreams, have been coming true.

It’s disappointing. Who wants to be “That poor family with the sad story?” I don’t.

Contemplating my husband’s cancer makes me feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and strangely shy. I have absolutely no idea what to say to anyone. (Which if you’re one of the folks waiting for me to call or write you back, um, that’s why you haven’t heard from me yet. Sorry.)

Based on my own experience, I’m sure you don’t know what to say to me either. I’ve seen others go through hard times, and I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I’ve let moments, months, years (!) pass by and have said nothing to friends and acquaintances for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Now that I’m going through one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, I would say that I’ve loved hearing from every person who’s thought to reach out to me. There’s no bad time to contact me, as long as you don’t care if I’m extremely slow at responding.

I know there are no magic words. I’ve appreciated receiving simple, heartfelt thoughts like, “I think of you often. I’m praying/sending good vibes, or I want to help if I can.” I’ve enjoyed funny stories, inspirational quotes, and reminders that good things can happen, too.

I think the best thing you can say to someone going through hell is to just say something, even if it feels like it took awhile.

Now, let’s see if I can take my own advice and pick up the phone.


Tomorrow I will be posting Part 2, written by a guest blogger—Star Jimenez Johnson, a friend “who’s been there.”

Please remember to continue to pray for my husband, his researchers, and all others who are facing cancer, serious illness and feelings of hopelessness.Thank you.