Hi, I am a nurse and see the world of chronic illness daily. I also find the prayer strategy, or "god has a reason" or "think of job" or "god never gives us more than we can bear" or "god is carrying you... foot steps in the sand" stuff incredibly unhelpful. I think it makes THEM feel better and less distraught about the fact that there is a person before them who has a health problem that actually causes some degree (a little... a lot) of suffering. I admit to feeling helpless and wish there was more I could do to alleviate suffering.... and I'm willing to put my feelings on the back burner and be present to the reality of the person before me.

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Yes! How much more helpful would it be to say. "I care for you and I'm here for you." Or to just listen and try to understand instead of suggesting that the person doesn't have enough faith by saying "god never gives us more than we can bear." Obviously, somebody or something does!
I wish that you were my nurse...
Often none of us really knows how to express that we're sorry someone is suffering, but IMO those ridiculous, pat answers are nothing more than a quick way to put someone off and get them put behind quickly and painlessly - yes, a way to make the person saying them feel as if they've 'done their part', and 'there you go'.

I find that it usually depends on the person - how well I know them, and the degree of the situation, as to whether or not I may or may not know at any particular time what to say or not. I find that it is always natural, whether I know what to say or not, to take the hand of someone who is in pain, suffering or grieving and comfort them by sitting with them and allowing them to talk if they want to, or to cry if they need to, or to just 'be' with someone. Asking them what I can do to help can be appropriate, or just scoping out the situation and making a decision based on what I think is needed - cooking a meal, running some errands, or just hanging back and waiting for them to let me know what they want from me.

Certainly along with something that may be of actual 'help' I'll offer words of comfort - but I'm not going to make them pat, hollow and meaningless words that are going to leave someone who is in pain and/or suffering in some way left feeling as if it could have been just as well if I hadn't even opened my mouth.

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