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There Is No Good Card for This

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There Is No Good Card for This

What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Life just kicked your friend in the teeth. What do you say? What do you do?

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Empathy experts Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell’s comforting, instructive manual gives you the tools to offer genuine, appropriate empathy to someone facing a crisis, be it a death in the family, a divorce, a job loss or some other trauma. Both authors are cancer survivors, and Crowe’s mother died young after battling mental illness. They’ve received awkward attempts at comfort and agree that these well-meaning efforts weren’t so terrible, after all. What hurt was the silence from people they thought would be there for them. Crowe and McDowell share their experiences on the giving and receiving ends of comfort, tell candid stories, provide concrete examples and offer frank, lively advice. getAbstract recommends their guidance to anyone who wants to help when it’s needed most.


“Bad Things Happen”

When you find yourself face-to-face with someone struggling or grieving, your first reaction might be “analysis paralysis.” Don’t overthink the situation. Learn to trust yourself to act when someone is hurting. You might say something clumsy, but that’s better than being silent. Figure out how to evaluate whether you’re being supportive or if you should just leave quietly. Self-trust is the key to serving others. Have faith in your kindness, values and ability to be supportive.

“Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First”

Common reasons for not reaching out to a friend in need include fear of doing or saying the wrong thing and fear of not having enough time to follow through if the person needs more than you can give. Psychologist Aaron T. Beck reduces such situations to two underlying fears: that you are either unlovable or incompetent. Don’t let these fears stop you from extending a hand. When people need support, they don’t want someone perfect. They want someone they can trust. Two types of baggage may stop you from connecting:

  1. Feeling guilty about disappointing others  Guilt is beneficial only...

About the Authors

Kelsey Crowe teaches social work at California State University. She founded Help Each Other Out. Its Empathy Bootcamps give people tools “for building relationships when it really counts.” Illustrator and speaker Emily McDowell created Empathy Cards for people undergoing a crisis.

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    G. B. 5 years ago
    Very good common sense advice
    • Avatar
      4 years ago
      Agreed. This book has helped me a lot. I've reached out more since reading it.