Janelle's Blog

When You Don’t Know What to Say

Sometimes saying the wrong thing can slip up on you and should leave you speechless. But, few of us can leave that awkward moment alone. Why is it we feel we have to insert comments at inappropriate moments? Why can’t we let words hang in the air and cap them off with a smile or silence? Because we are human and human nature won’t let it be.

Minding My Own Business

On a casual Saturday when I had the weekend to relax and catch up on things, I decided to clean out our master bedroom closet while my husband was at the dentist getting a simple cleaning. His appointment was at 10:30, so it seemed likely he would be back in a little over an hour. We would then go to lunch.

That was enough time for me to move winter clothes from the top closet clothes bars to the bottom—a job that took more time than I planned. Completely absorbed in the closet straightening project, I paid no attention to the time. I had long ago skipped breakfast since we would leave soon for lunch, but when I checked the time, it was already 12:30. Now my determination set in to finish before Neal arrived home. Time clicked by and it was after 2:00 before I heard the garage door open.

As the back door swung open, I said, “What in the world happened to you, Neal?”

“The coupon you gave me for a free cleaning and exam cost me $1,700,” he said. “While they had my mouth open, I agreed to let them fix everything in sight.”

After a few minutes of recovery, we left for lunch. The time was now 3:00.

Neal thought it would be easy to eat Cajun rice and beans, so we drove over to Half Shells, a nearby casual seafood dining restaurant. Half Shells is located exactly next to Nicolas, voted as Dallas’ #1 Italian restaurant. Neal parked between the two restaurants. As we got out of the car and angled toward Half Shells, the manager of Nicolas stepped out to greet us. He recognized us from eating there many times, so he said, “Oh, you are not coming to eat with us today?”

Why Can’t the Words Hang in the Air?

At this point I would like to say that my delirium from not eating all day was the reason my next statement was, “My husband just got back from the dentist.”

Not to leave me hanging out on a limb, Neal jumped in to rescue me before I finished with, “He thought beans and rice would be easy to eat.”

Neal said, “We sure like your restaurant,” as we stepped through the doors of Half Shells.

We both looked at each other in disbelief. What would be easier to eat than pasta?

Tips for Saying the Right Thing

Whether you are going through day-to-day experiences in life or trying to say the right thing to someone you care about that is facing breast cancer, there will be a time when you don’t know what to say. You get caught off guard and wish you could crawl under a rock rather than say something. People ask me all of the time what to say to friends and family when they are dealing with breast cancer. Here is my advice:

  1. Don’t try to live someone’s experience. You really don’t know what she is going through. If you have a listening ear, she will be inclined to tell you what troubles her. Then you can offer assistance in more meaningful ways.
  2. Little things are magnified to the person experiencing breast cancer. While she may be troubled over small things, she will also appreciate every thoughtful thing you do or say.
  3. Try not to agitate the person with breast cancer by asking every day what is happening with her problems. By letting someone know you are there and care, she will feel comfortable in confiding in you at the right moments.

When it comes to caring for others, you just about can’t say the wrong thing. Loving people overshadows any awkward moments. Never be afraid to show you care. Go to MyNBCF to share your experiences with others.

Thought for Today:

“Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.”—Czech. Proverb

Live Life,


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