This is a list of ways not to give sympathy.
I collected this list from Ms. Manners a long time ago. Since then I’ve reworked it some and added some more.
- Pangloss – it is all for the best
- Affirm’s this is a just world – “Probably deserved it…” “If only he had stopped”
- Relativism – “You know, it could be worse.”
- Competition – “You think you’ve got troubles! Let me tell you about my …”
- Emotional Vampire – “Go ahead feel bad! Cry! I’m here for you.”
- Not a Quiter – “I’m sure this will only lead you to redouble your efforts.”
- Predjudice – “Ah that’s how people like you deal with this, eh?”
- Distraction – “Ah, how ’bout those Red Sox!”
Since we are on the topic I might as well mention the right thing to do.
“I’m so sorry, I just want you to know I’m here for you.” and actually doing something is better.
These can be used to construct a very silly joke of the exaggerated kind. Something very minor happens. For example: “Oh, we are out of milk!” you then trot out the full set one after another. “Well it’s probably for the best. We probably don’t deserve milk. You think that’s trouble why my toast is cold! …” This works best if you can the entire family to join in.
Next time something bad happens to you, see if you can collect the whole set.