The Wrong Thing to Say

Image: Meme from the article below.

Good advice. I’m proud to repost it on CoffeeShopRabbi.  I have only recently discovered this blog, but I will continue to follow it.



  1. God will never give you more than you can handle. While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami. A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.
  2. It gets better. Yes, yes it does. But right then, it’s not better. And before it gets better, it may get way worse.
  3. When God shuts a door, he opens a window. Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe he just shuts a door. Maybe there is no window. There was no window for Job. There was a cosmic battle that raged as he sat in distress. There…

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Hamaqom | The Place in Berkeley, CA.

5 thoughts on “The Wrong Thing to Say”

  1. Thank you. I loathe hearing these phrases when going through trials and tribulations. I’m glad you’re offering alternatives and a different perspective. Much needed, since so many people seem to lack basic manners and common sense anymore.


  2. I had a hard time with this one, and I’m not sure I can articulate why, but here goes. For your readers who don’t know me, I’ve had a disability my whole life, and while I agree with the points being made, the article smacks of ableism. It uses disability as a source of tragedy, ‘special needs’ to evoke sadness. I’m not saying that someone in that situation doesn’t need or want comfort. But if I were the one to comfort, I would first ask myself, “If it were me, what would I need?” … When my mom died when I was the tender age of 15, I was smothered by people’s pity. I could see it in their eyes. I felt I had to take care of them. I wasn’t given the room or luxury to grieve; I just wanted to show people how strong and grown up I was. I wish someone had just had a conversation with me about the void I now had in my life, or how tenuous my life and future felt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, somehow I missed seeing your message until now. I think you have two excellent points: first of all, the line about “special needs” is ableist. And second, we need to do more than simply avoid “saying the wrong thing” – we need to pay attention to the needs of the suffering person in front of us.

      Thank you for speaking up, and I am sorry I missed seeing your comment until now.


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