I’m not sure what to say when people tell me something that has happened in their life that is really sad or traumatic? I usually say… “I’m so sorry.” Often, they reply by saying, “You don’t need to apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong.” And then I feel like I let them down somehow.
In Spanish we have two phrases:
- “perdoname”- which implies I have harmed you and am apologizing for what I did, and
- “lo siento”- which literally means “I feel it,” and more about feeling someone’s grief or sadness with them or on their behalf.
Many of us struggle to find the right words when someone is sharing their grief. We often want to help or provide comfort. I wish all languages were better equipped to offer peace and comfort.
Often, the most comforting thing we can do is stay present, in spite of our discomfort… and listen. Leaning into the pain, instead of trying to fix the pain, usually goes a longer way in offering more lasting effects.Would love to hear from readers about experiences that would apply to this question.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine and is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.