I was looking for this interview last night as another piece that might be of interest alongside Jamison's, but I only just now found it again, finally: Interview with Emily Rapp, on the death of a child: Say, “That sucks.” Don’t say, “I can’t imagine,” because of course the horror is that everyone can, but to say so feels isolating and cruel.
And today's reading: Phil Klay also offers an expansion upon Jamison's desire for "empathetic language" to change from "That must have been really hard for you" to "I can't even imagine." Klay argues against Jamison (and most of the trauma theory developed in the lat 30 years), and suggests instead that people should, and can, imagine just about anything:
To enter into that commonality of consciousness, though, veterans need an audience that is both receptive and critical. Believing war is beyond words is an abrogation of responsibility — it lets civilians off the hook from trying to understand, and veterans off the hook from needing to explain. You don’t honor someone by telling them, “I can never imagine what you’ve been through.” Instead, listen to their story and try to imagine being in it, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that feels.
(And indeed, that it is crucial to our era of increasingly depersonalized warfare that we do.)