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.

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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 Jewish Gateways in Albany, 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.

    1. I loathe them too, and find them very hurtful in some cases. That’s why I was so delighted to find this brilliant blog post!

  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.

    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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