What you say and when depends on where the person is at when in crisis. I like the phrase I heard, "First observe then Serve," Linda K. Burton. Too often I am tempted to go for the quick fix. What can I say or do for this to be over quickly. Discomfort, mine or someone else, is difficult. The modern culture of instant everything almost demands an instant fix to big problems. Kissing a child's 'boo-boo' is such an example. Not much effort doesn't take long. Here's the problem. I tend to want to do the same thing with bigger problems too.
The article I shared on what not to say uses the last half of the article comparing being in crisis to treating a burn victim. They give specific examples for each stage.
I believe it is worth taking the time to read through their example.
What is the best thing to say? I believe my first counselor was a wonderful example. My sister and I both saw him. We compared notes. What he told my sister is not what he told me. His words of encouragement for her were quite different than the words he used with me. Gaining understanding of others and what words bring comfort ti them is very individual. Even with the greatest of care, words sometimes hurt when they were meant to comfort. A raw wound is harmed by the softest cloth. 'What can you say' has no easy-quick-fix-one-size-fits-all answer...it doesn't. I remember when I was working in a fabric store. I was required to great every customer and say something nice to them. My main go to was "Have a nice day." Seems safe enough until the day a customer erupted and shouted at me, "Don't tell me what kind of day to have!!!" Wow. I calmly replied, "Sir, I am required to say something nice to every customer. So, Have a day."
My first counselor described talking to me was like running through a mine field. Explosions at almost every step. Healing took years. I am still loaded with pesky land minds. I have two challenges, how to say words that are soothing and calming, the other is how not to be offended when the other person is attempting to say something kind but should have their mouth stapled shut. Perhaps one of the reasons I withdraw when I am hitting deep crisis is to relieve me from not getting pissed off over the smallest slight. No easy answer for this one.