Author’s Note :: This blog was a collaborative effort of survivors of flooding and their thoughts on how common sayings have made them feel. Not all statements resonated with all victims, but I felt each one was important to list so that readers could understand their feelings behind the well-meaning comments. I have said many of these things and probably still do today. The list is not meant to demean others, but to give a new perspective on how some flood victims feel, remind others to be sensitive to their feelings and offer assistance if at all possible. As always, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and raw emotions. Giving support from your heart is ultimately the main goal in this tragic time.
10 Things NOT to Say to Flood Victims
Louisiana has been in a state of emergency for the past 6 days.
Relentless rain and rising rivers have caused disastrous flash flooding all throughout the south. 40,000 homes destroyed, 30,000 people rescued, 10,000 in shelters. There was little time to prepare, and the damage to properties and human life is unimaginable. A drive down almost any road in Southeast Louisiana reveals the horrific aftermath that flash flooding caused just days ago.
Louisiana communities are beginning to dry off and pick up the pieces of their homes and lives. In the midst of such tragedy, people are coming together in order to help each other … and it’s a beautiful sight.
In times like these, we feel obligated to express our concern and condolences to others who were victims of this disaster.
Rarely can a response or comment make a situation better, but we can express our empathy so that those affected know we are here to support them. We want to connect, rather than disconnect. We want to try and put ourselves in their shoes, take their perspective, be free of judgment, and ultimately, we want to feel with them.
Sometimes when we are speaking to those affected by the horrific floods, we say things that are well meaning in nature but do not help in our desire to be empathetic. And sometimes these comments are anything but supportive.
Here are 10 common sayings that flood victims don’t want to hear…
“Just be thankful that you are all safe and alive.”
I’m fairly certain everyone who survived the flooding is thankful they are alive and well; they do not need us reminding them.
“It’s just things that can be replaced.”
While “things” can often be replaced, many times they cannot. Pictures and family heirlooms, amongst other things, cannot be replaced. The longing for these lost materials will stay with them long after the flood waters have receded.
“At least you only got a few feet of water, my house flooded to the roof.”
Some houses got impacted more so than others, however it is NEVER appropriate to try and one up a fellow victim.
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Just no. Can we stop with that saying?
“Let me know if you need anything!”
This well meaning comment has such great intent. Truly it does, but flood victims need lots of things and their minds are already overwhelmed. Can I recommend saying something more productive such as, “Can I come over to help you clean up in the morning?” or “Would it be alright if I buy your family some necessities like clothing, toiletries, and supplies?”
“It could always be worse.”
Yep, it sure could, but in this very moment, things are pretty grim for the victims. They need to feel all the emotions they have without judgment.
“I’m praying for you.” (and then nothing…)
Obviously you can totally say this comment (and I encourage you to do so), but please don’t stop there if you are in the area of need and can physically help. When one just endured such a tragedy, they often need help now and they need it fast. I’m sure no one gets offended by a prayer offering, but what they would really love in addition to your prayers is your man power in helping them begin to rebuild their life. (Please keep the prayers coming if you are unable to do anything else!)
“I sure hope you had flood insurance.”
Well, what if they don’t? Do they need a reminder that this devastation will cost thousands of dollars? Instead, maybe ask if you can help them with making claims or paperwork.
“At least you have each other.”
Our families are number one, obviously. It should go without saying that being together is the ultimate blessing, but even having each other doesn’t erase the pain or trauma of enduring a natural disaster.
Let’s just say anything that starts with “at least” should ALWAYS be off limits in times of crisis and trauma.
Silver lining, comparing, or judging in your words is never productive and only disconnects you from the victim when we should be connecting. These people are hurting and they have every right to be. Louisiana’s flood victims are vulnerable right now, and their emotions are running high. They need to feel our love and support in their time of need.
This advice is based on other victims’ experiences and may not resonate with all, and thanks okay. The one thing I’m certain of is that we should all be sensitive to their feelings and offer our support.
Often times, our need to comfort those suffering around us leaves us speechless or stumbling our words, but as long as we acknowledge them in their time of need and genuinely offer our love and support, I think we will be able to recover and rebuild from this tragedy together.
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