Has anyone attempted to comfort you by saying “At least you don’t have…”?
Have you comforted yourself with the same thought?
The thing is, no matter how you end this phrase, it is never okay to say, not even to yourself!
And here is why!
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Someone else has it
The most common ending to the phrase above is cancer. Should we be happy to not have cancer? Of course, but what about the person who does have it? What would we say to them? At least you’re not dead?
The walls have ears
Unless you possess a super power that gives you the ability to see everyone’s disease, you have no idea what the people around you are dealing with.
Imagine sitting next to a table where the conversation consisted of one friend telling another to be happy that they didn’t have your disease!
Would you walk away joyfully thinking, yes, they are lucky to not have my disease? Or would those word fester deep inside reminding you of how horrific it really is to live with it?
What if someone who heard us saying “at least you don’t have” is later diagnosed with it? Would they be comfortable coming to us for help or compassion when they already know that we view that disease or situation as hopeless?
The future is uncertain
By saying “at least we don’t have”, we are saying that the other disease is too frightening for us to even imagine having to deal with it.
There are no guarantees in life. You, me, my neighbor, any of us could end up with what we have convinced ourselves is worse than what we have.
Instead of saying at least you/I don’t have something else, try the following instead:
- I have (insert your illness or symptom) and guess what? Sometimes it really sucks!!
- This is my body, my disease, and my journey. Nobody will ever understand what I am experiencing, just as I could never fully understand their battle.
To someone else:
- You are brave and strong. Let me know if there is any way I can help you.
- I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis.