Sometimes the most empathetic-sounding statements can be the most unintentionally hurtful. This is one of those phrases.
When you say, “I would never survive it,” this is what we hear:
“I would never survive it!” —> This is such a horrible thing to have experienced. (It is)
“I would never survive it!” —> You must be so strong! (I’m not)
“I would never survive it!” —> You must have special abilities that keep you still standing. (I don’t. I’m a person, just like you).
Above all, it’s a means of distancing; a way of emphasizing that this bad thing can only happen to other people. Because in your world, you would not have the ability to keep living.
…Do you understand, when you follow the logical conclusion of these words, you are implying you would choose death?
Do you know how many of us did?
And sometimes, when I hear these words, I wonder if you are judging me because I was unsuccessful.
Something to think about.
Notes for the Support Team – Words Matter:
Original statement: I would never survive it.
Rewritten: I haven’t experienced your pain, so I can only imagine what it feels like. I am here for you though, if you ever want to talk about your experience or your child.