What to Say to Someone Going Through a Crisis When You Can't Find the Words

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In 2004, a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a tsunami that devastated 14 countries and resulted in an enormous loss of life. Ani Naqvi and designer Nate Berkus, who survived the tsunami, were brought together during the disaster, and sought solace in each other's friendship and shared experience. Tragically, among those missing in the aftermath was Nate's partner, Fernando Bengoechea.

Oprah spoke with Ani and Nate on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005, and the pair shared their stories of pain and healing in the wake of the tragedy.

After the show, the cameras kept rolling, and Oprah asked the survivors, "Have you found that people don't know what to say, or how to react, or how to be with you?" Ani admitted that there had been some awkwardness with people not knowing the appropriate thing to do.

Nate then asserted his belief that if you're on the fence whether to reach out, you should just do it. Although words of comfort might not always come easily in such a situation, for Nate, the simple act of reaching out, regardless of the size of the gesture, was profoundly meaningful to him. "It doesn't matter how gracious the words are, and it doesn't matter how beautiful the flower is; it's the idea that you are in someone's thoughts," Nate said.

Here, Ani and Nate articulate the insights into humanity that they gained after suffering unimaginable tragedy.