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January 30, 2020

10 Things to Say, in addition to “I’m Praying for You.”

Social media and text message culture has opened up an entirely new challenge for humanity.

In times of crisis or grief, how do we communicate to one another that we are here for support?

There was a time when picking up the phone, sending a card, or going to be with that person in the flesh were the only three options. Each one in itself implied a dedication of time, energy, and shared presence. You hardly had any choice other than be all there, or don’t be.

Now, we live in a day of text messages, Facebook wall posts, direct messages, and comments. Following any tragic upheaval, we engage and re-engage the argument between those who offer “thoughts and prayers” and those who call for action.

I’m here to offer a suggestion: why not do both?

I’d like to offer a list of suggestions—helpful and healing phrases to offer, in addition to “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Several of these phrases are appropriate for scenarios when you’re not physically able to be with the person.

All prayers and no connection is isolating, but prayers with presence can heal:

  1. I’m praying for you. Let me know if you want to FaceTime.
  2. I’m praying for you. How are you doing?
  3. I’m praying for you. Let me know your favorite delivery restaurant and a good evening for you. I’d like to order you dinner, on me.
  4. I’m praying for you. How is [insert name of an ailing loved one] doing?
  5. I’m praying for you. Let’s get coffee—I’d love to hug you in person.
  6. I’m praying for you. Call or text any time you just want a friend. I’m here to listen.
  7. I’m praying for you. What’s your favorite flower? I’d like to have some sent over.
  8. I’m praying for you. Let me know if you have time to go on a walk together this week. Let’s get some fresh air together.
  9. I’m praying for you. I’d love to make a donation in honor of [loved one]. Please let me know [loved one’s] nonprofit of choice.
  10. I’m praying for you. You’re not alone. I’m here to sit with you—let me know when.

The list goes on and on, but the key here is: yes, offer prayers. And then, offer true presence. True support. True intention.

A million comments of empty “I’m praying for you” still leaves a person alone, whereas just 10 true comments with offers of shared space, true support, and loving intention can build the bridge to create space for healing.

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