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Language Guidance

Language Guidance: Common Phrases

It’s important to think very carefully about the way you’re referring to the Highland Park shooting and the time since. The words we choose can have inadvertent and unintentional consequences. As with other instances, the principle of “impact” vs. “intent” applies here. Good intent doesn’t excuse negative impact, and we can prevent negative impact by avoiding certain common phrases that are known to re-traumatize or otherwise harm victims’ families or survivors of similar incidents.

Instead of “healing” or “recovery,” try “resiliency” or “journey.”

Instead of “strong,” try “resilient.”

Instead of  “normal,” try “familiar.”

Instead of  “move on,” try “move forward.”

Instead of “trigger,” try “re-traumatize.”

Instead of “lives lost,” try “lives taken” or “people killed.”

Instead of “I understand,” try “I hear you.”

Instead of “you’ll be OK,” try “you’ve got this.”

Instead of, “time heals,” try “you’re on your own timeline.”

Instead of “how can I help?,” try  “here’s how I can help, when you’re ready.”

Instead of, “I know how you feel,” try  “you’re not alone.”

Instead of, “[your survival] was God’s will,” try “it’s OK to have complex feelings about this.”

Instead of “[your survival] was meant to be,” try “I’m just so grateful you’re here.”

Instead of, “anniversary of [the shooting],” try “[x] years since / [x]-year mark, remembrance.”