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“Man…That Just Sucks!”

We have all been there. A friend or family member is going through something tough (REALLY TOUGH) and you are racking your brain to say just the right thing, or provide some kind of pep talk to get them through.

Your first instinct is to reach deep into your heart for a quote, a story, or a postive affirmation. You want so desperately to pull them out of their dark place and back into the light, and I commend you for that.

But before you put your “Life Coach” hat on, I urge you to remember ……….


Sometimes, “Man…that just sucks!” is the best thing you can say!


Stay with me people. I am not saying that you have no added value or that your words can’t help. That is not what I am saying!

We all want to help and empathize with others in their times of need, and not all situations will be appropriate for a “Man…that just sucks” response.

But when you are faced with a loved who is going through a tough (and often chronic) obstacle in their life, sometimes it is helpful to know when this phrase can be most helpful.

I have listed a few below:


1. When you want to connect with your friend or family member, but you have absolutely no experience with what they are dealing with at this time.


It is natural to try and show empathy by relating an ancedote or story that YOU THINK is similiar to that person’s circumstance. But unless you have walked the exact same path (or something far worse), it is best to not try to insert your experience into theirs.

Most people dealing with unique (and often uncomfortable pain) in their lives do realize that most people won’t understand, and that can seem isolating.

Sometimes, they just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes they just need to relate what is happening to them OUT LOUD and to hear the words actually leave their heads and their hearts.

Sometimes, they need to just vomit words and feelings and saying, “Man….that just sucks!” helps just as much as Brene Brown’s latest affirmation.


2. When you DO have some familiarity with their situation and might be able to offer advice, but unsure it will be helpful at the present time.


If you are unsure, err on the side of caution. This is especially true with parenting struggles, friends facing divorce, financial struggles, and other life changes.

Even though we tend to have common threads, quickly telling them how you reacted to a particular situation might tend to make them feel inadequate.

We all go through tough seasons in life, but it is important to stop and ask if what you are about to relate to them will actually be helpful or make their problem seem even worse.

Perhaps giving the phrase a little extra layer such as, “I went through something similiar and Man… it just sucks!” That might help propel them into asking you for more help.


3. When your friend or loved one is “deep in the valley”


When your friend or loved one is in the pit, sometimes you need to just crawl in and join them. Sometimes, they just need to know that someone is willing to stand beside them through all the pain, the shame, and the messiness of life.

It doesn’t mean you have to stay down there forever with them. But sometimes, we all need to sit still in our grief and our suffering. Especially in the fishbowl of military life.

Stepping into the pain until they are ready to come out, or ready to see solutions to their problems, can make us uncomfortable. But that is exactly the time we need to be there for each other.

Not armed with casseroles and hollow words, but with our hearts and our willingness to say, “Man…THIS just sucks!” while we wait for the light alongside them.



*For more of Kathleen’s work, check out her M:M Author Page.








  • Kathleen Palmer

    Kathleen is an educator and project seeker from Texas. In her 28 years as an Army wife, Kathleen has taught and coached in six different states and Germany. Kathleen has a big heart for both Army families and soldiers having served as a Soldier for Life counselor in both Germany and Korea. Her favorite part of Army life is her acquired community of battle buddies! Kathleen loves words (both speaking and writing them) and has contributed to AWN, NMFA, The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Army Spouse Handbook, Inside Abu Ghraib, Memoirs of Two US Military Intelligence Officers, and The Army War College at Carlisle. Her favorite writing piece about being an Army wife is “The Lady in the Grey Suit” which was published in 2015 in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (Vol.3). You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website, Life Is Messy, Love Big. Just like Kathleen, the site is a WORK in Progress! She also currently serves as Mission: Milspouse Director of Content.


  1. Marcia Moran

    This is EXACTLY what i needed today! Thank you my dear kathy. It does suck!
    Sending hugs and love
    Your writings are great…

    • Kathleen Palmer

      Aww! Glad it reached you- Praying for you!


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The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

If you’ve read any of my blog submissions on Mission Milspouse lately, you’ll likely see a pattern where I have been mostly writing about what I’ve learned being a military spouse for the past twenty years but in presented in slightly different ways. In addition to...

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