Why 'There is No Good Card for This' Should Be on the Top of Your Reading List

This smart, handy guide helps you navigate life’s crappier experiences like a grown-up.

Every now and then, a book comes along that is just what you need, right when you need it. And by you, I mean me. And I mean us, like our society. “There is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love,” by Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D. and Emily McDowell (who also illustrated the book), is that book.

When someone in your life is hurting, there are real, concrete ways to help.

The authors lay it out early on: “as time goes on, if you want to be a responsible grown-up, you’ve got to do a little better … When someone in your life is hurting, there are real, concrete ways to help.” But what to say? And where to start? Many of us are so at a loss during a crisis that we do nothing rather than risk doing the wrong thing. But, “Reaching out and fumbling is often far better than not reaching out at all.” This book assures readers that we’re all capable of saying the right thing, and more importantly, provides the tools to make it so.

My copy is now flagged with scribbled-on post-it notes about every five pages. It’s that good, and that important.

In the book, you’ll find the same mix of affirmation and straight talk that you find in Emily’s amazing cards (if you don’t know them, go to her website right after you read this), but with a depth of understanding about personal and interpersonal hang-ups that could only come from a psychology professional. That’s where Dr. Kelsey Crowe comes in. She’s devoted her career to teaching others about empathy, and her website Help Each Other Out gives individuals advice for how to show compassion for friends going through tough situations from infertility to coming out. The book is an extension of this work and includes real situations and quotes from Kelsey’s research.

The writers also share their own experiences of going through difficult situations, and how the outreach from others helped — or didn’t help. As a 24-year-old, Emily received the same diagnosis (stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma) that my husband did at 30. During that experience as the partner of someone going through cancer, I thought about writing a book like this, but I’m glad Kelsey and Emily did it instead. They bring more expertise, humor and colorful imagery to the subject than any other pair I can imagine. In writing this post, for example, I transcribed about 500 words of quotes from the book, but deleted most of them so I don’t spoil the story. I want you to all go through the book from beginning to end like I did, and soak it up.

But while I highly recommend this book (that’s obvious, right?), I’m not giving you my copy. “There is No Good Card for This” ends with 10 pages of cheat sheets for common situations like illness, divorce, miscarriage, loss, and unemployment, and I plan on referring to them often.

Because none of us is immune to crappy life stuff, and we all want to help.

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