You’re so lucky! I hear this phrase so often these days now that we are in the homestretch of rebuilding our house. While I try not to fault people too much because over the last year and a half, their lives have gone on as normal, but it stings. One piece of life advice is….if you know anyone who has lost everything and had to rebuild….Never….and I mean NEVER use the phrase “You’re so lucky!”
When people tell me that I’m “lucky” it makes me feel like I won a lottery that I did not want to enter and have to PAY a lot of money for in the end. For a short list, here are some things that our home insurance doesn’t cover. We have to pay out of pocket to replace or repair: All five of our vehicles, our friend’s vehicle that was in the garage, and a boat. Sections of fence, the whole sprinkler system, four trees, a stair railing, a driveway, a back patio, and the lawn. The walkways and city sidewalks in front of our property and OH…let’s not forget the bill from the city for the burned garbage cans. There is more, but….moving on!
Now, those are just the items that we CAN replace. We lost things that day that we will never get back. My childhood rocking chair, my husband’s childhood rocking horse, our collection of souvenirs from all our vacations, my wedding dress, paintings my Grandmother did and a necklace she gave me….this list could go on, but it’s painful. I’m sure you get the idea. I don’t feel lucky.
What You Can Say….Maybe
If you can’t tell someone they are lucky, how do you support what they receive from the insurance once they get back on their feet? It is a tricky question and I have a great answer of what not to do further down this page. For now, I will start with what you might can do.
From my experience, I have a list of things people have said that hurt. I’ve also had friends and family that have given excitement for me in a way that made me feel okay about my situation. I’m going to list some of the good and bad. I will start with the good.
- “How can I help?” and “What do you need?” This is a great mindset and thing to say to someone right after a tragic loss of any kind. We had a lot of family, friends and neighbors that wanted to help. We received help in the way of people donating things that we needed all the way down from having complete strangers just sit with us in the first moments after our house fire so we weren’t alone. Never underestimate just being there for someone. You don’t even need to say anything, just be there.
- “How are you holding up?” This one requires that you really mean to be ready to listen to the answer. Sometimes it might be a quick, “I’m fine.” Other days it could end up being, “I don’t know what to do!” With a 10 hour saga of events and emotions that follows. If you ask this loaded question, brace for the ugly answer, or don’t ask.
- “It’s great to see the progress.” This one has been delivered to me by complete strangers that have walked by my property on a daily or weekly basis. This is a great neutral thing to say and you really can’t go wrong in my eyes. When someone says that to me, I am able to say, “Yes, it has been great to have the progress.” Not huge, but enough to move in a positive way.
- “What’s the latest update?” This might sound like a loaded question up front, but given enough time and space between the initial loss, you could get a really great conversation with this question. This is more of a specific question that you will realize at first. When someone loses a house, everything behind that happens with the insurance and the rebuild will all happen in stages. These aren’t great leaps like question #3 could reveal. These have answers like: “The insurance is finding us a place to go.” All the way up to “We just heard we only have about three weeks left!” Use this one carefully.
What Not To Say
If you are facing someone that just had a huge loss, this is a list of what not to say. I don’t care if it’s been five minutes or five years after the loss. Stay away from these….
- “It’s just stuff.” Steer far away from saying anything like this! This was my number one anger trigger in the first few weeks after my house fire. Someone would say that to me and I would bite my tongue….hard. What I really wanted to say is, “This isn’t just stuff! This is MY stuff! Everything we’ve worked hard for is gone!” Do not say it, ever.
- “You need to focus on what you have left.” Now, for me, this is just a gentle way of people saying I should be glad my family and I were still alive and nothing else. I am grateful no one was hurt that morning. Once my brain knew that, it moved on to all the ugly things I was looking at and dealing with. All the things I lost is all I could focus on.
- “Everything happens for a reason.” If you are saying this to someone who believes in a higher power, it might seem safe, but don’t say it. I will start this off with one statement: I agree, everything happens for a reason. I will follow it with: Don’t let it come from your mouth, because it will create a flare of anger coming from anyone’s mouth but the person dealing with the event. They will need time to deal with their situation before this can ever be spoken.
- Don’t stay silent. If you know someone who has just experienced a loss, but are afraid you will do it wrong, just reach out in some way. If you can’t trust yourself to call or talk to them, send them a card or a even a text. Something so they know you are thinking of them. It will make both of you feel better if you reach out.
I really hope this give some insight and a small guideline of why you shouldn’t say “You’re so lucky.”