8. Don’t say, “it could have been worse”. When people are going through something tragic it’s as worse as it can be.
9. Don’t say, “I understand” unless you have been through what they have. It’s better to say something like, “I can’t imagine what you are going through it must be so hard”.
10. Don’t think that you have to say something. And, if think you need to say something use common sense. Ask God for two things. What you should say and when you should say it. Timing is probably the more important aspect of those two. The best illustration of this is found in Job chapter 2 of the bible.
11. Don’t ask them to make major decisions for you. Questions like, “should I fly out there and should I pick up mom and bring her?” place major decision making into the lap of a person who is most likely not wanting to do anything more than grieve and cope. I think it’s better to tell them what you would like to do and let them respond to your decision. This way you are bearing the weight of making the decision not them.
12. Don’t be afraid to admit that you aren’t the best person to help them. You probably aren’t. Give them what you can and have the humility to step aside if someone more capable needs your time and space to help them.
13. Don’t take the cannibal approach to tragedy by making a big splash in a person’s life in the beginning and then disappearing to never be heard from again. You might think about rationing your “resources” so that they last over time. People tend to get an initial barrage of help but then it fades over time. Be there for the long haul if you can.
14. Don’t think you can save or deliver people out of the tragedy they are going through. That’s God’s job. Your job is to walk with them through it.