Hi there!

Kerry, over at “Lemon-aide”, has asked me to chat a bit about what to say to people who offer platitudes when you are journeying through something rough like a chronic illness, a death, loss of a job…whatever.

I have been thinking about this since she asked me…it is a tough question.

What do we say to people who offer lame platitudes?

What makes this question so difficult is that usually, when a lame platitude is shared, we are in a place of vulnerability…when we are feeling vulnerable…things like this can really shake us up.

Years back, when I was widowed…I remember one particularly rough platituder…she had platitudes pouring out of her. Every time I saw her these weird statements came out of her mouth. These platitude’s caused me extreme distress. I tensed up every time I saw her.

Because I was raised by fairly polite people…I first dealt with this by smiling and shaking my head as if I was in agreement. Then, I would try to get away from her as quickly as possible.

But, one particularly bad day…I saw her in the grocery store. I was in such distress…I could barely hold it together to get the groceries…

HER: “Hi Lynne…How are you? (said in a kind of whiny voice)

ME: “Shitty!”

HER: “Oh…well, God must have really wanted John. Now he is up in heaven looking down on you… blah blah blah blah blah blah”

ME: completely going over the edge “Well, I don’t believe in your God…I hate your God..and your God sucks!”

After I spewed my stuff, she just looked confused and walked away. I felt a little better! But, after I got out of the store, I felt embarrassed and lame. I wanted her to know what to say to me. I didn’t want to have to teach her how to support me. I didn’t have the energy to be patient with her while she fumbled with her words.

Needless to say, the next time I saw her she spewed platitudes about what I had said to her. She didn’t understand that I MEANT what I said!!!! Within a handful of months, I moved away and didn’t ever see her again. I was relieved. Maybe she was too!

So…Kerry, I don’t know what to say to platituder’s. They are a strange breed of folks who don’t know what to say and refuse to learn a better way to support people.

I guess, if the platituder is someone you love…then you have some room to talk to them about what you want:

“I know you are trying to be supportive, but every time you say that…I want to strangle you!!!”


“Ya know…I feel really bad when you say that…how about if you don’t say anything???”


“I know you love me and you are trying to support me…but, what you just said doesn’t feel supportive. I really just need you to listen to me. Don’t worry about trying to make me feel better…cuz that ain’t gonna happen today. Besides, it ain’t your job to make me feel better…that is my job.”

If the person is not someone you love…and here is where it can be a bit tricky…try to focus on the essence of what they were offering. In their clutzy, weird way…they were probably trying to offer some sort of support.

If you can’t do that because you are heading over the edge…let em have it! Then, when you walk away, pat yourself on the back for NOT STRANGLING THEM!!!!

Hope this was helpful!

Good luck!!!

4 Responses to “What to Say to a Platituder!”

  1. Great post. I will read your posts frequently. Added you to the RSS reader.

  2. Hey there Randy~ Thanks for stopping by. Glad you like the post. I am off to go check out your blog:)
    Have a great day!

  3. Lynne, Thanks for posting about platitude responses!

    First thing I feel after reading this is relief. It isn’t easy to come up with things to say…and that automatically helps me feel less lame about my abundant lame responses.

    I would have liked to have been shopping with you at the grocery store when your tolerance for the “platitude lady” crumbled and you let it all out. When we got to the car, I would have given you a high five for not taking it anymore and for your discipline in restraning from strangling her, or hitting her over the head with a loaf of bread or whatever grocery items you might have had in your basket. Then I would have driven you to Starbuck’s to celebrate.

    I have dealt with many platitudes through my journey with chronic illness, but Lynne, the platitudes you endured that followed John’s death–Wow, truly hard to imagine someone saying the things that were said to you! There couldnt be a more vulnerable time to have deal with them.

    Here’s the “Lynne wisdom” I’m taking from this post (besides the great (and humorous) responses to the “platituders” we love and can straight shoot with)–If you don’t strangle the person who lays a platitude on ya– you’re doing good, no matter how lame the response.


    Love, Kerry

  4. I think we are doing awesome when we don’t beat the platituder on the head with a loaf of bread for sure!!!!!

    Thanks for the happy birthday…you have one coming up soon to…we are the birthday babes!!!
    Wanna meet for some coffee and cake? How about at noon????

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