How to Comfort Someone

For most people, one of the hardest things to deal with is when someone they love is in emotional pain and they simply don't know how to help. It can be a challenge to figure out what to say to your loved ones as they struggle with an emotional blow. While you can't necessarily get rid of their frustration or pain, you can learn how to comfort someone and make a difference. Simply listening and focusing on your loved one can make a big difference. Next time you don't know how to comfort your friend or family member, consider these advices.

How to Comfort Someone—General Methods Can Help

1.    Focus on the Person's Feelings

As tempting as it is to mention the time that you went through a relatable experience and pulled through, this won't help most people. Instead, let them know that you are sad that they are sad, say something like "I'm so sorry you're going through this." Remember, no two experiences are the same. Even if your friend just lost their mother and you lost your mother several years ago, everything can be different: their relationship with their parent, the person's response, and how they measure their response, etc.

2.    Listen, Don't Talk

Make a compassionate statement and then just sit quietly. Let your loved one talk if they want to, otherwise just give them a hug and let them relax, knowing you are there for them. Instead of offering statements you think are comforting, stay silent and let them start a conversation if they want one.

3.    Don't Add Your Opinion

Part of learning how to comfort someone is to not to give advice. Even if you think you have the perfect solution to the problem, don't offer it. Instead of offering advice such as trying to do a certain thing, just listen and let them know that you support them and provide emotional comfort.

You need to remember that every single person is different. Your loved one has different weaknesses and strengths than you or another friend that has gone through the same thing. Since you don't understand the situation, don't offer advice unless your loved one asks.

4.    Don't Focus on You

Instead of mentioning a related situation that you experienced, build on your experience to figure out how to help your friend. They don't want to hear about when your dog died or some other tragedy occurred. Instead, think about how you felt in that situation and use that knowledge to help your friend. Say something like "you must be feeling ___" and insert an emotion you felt at the time. Simply finding a label may provide comfort.

5.    Provide Practical Help

If you are concerning about how to comfort some, you can just find some daily stuff to help your loved one. This is a great way to show your friend that they can count on you. Don't be afraid to consistently offer the same type of help, such as bringing over dinner the same night of every week. Don't offer to help and tell them to call you when they need you. Unless you are incredibly close and have a special relationship, they will never take you up on the offer. Instead, offer to complete a specific task.

6.    Things to Avoid

To make the most of learning how to comfort someone, you also need to understand what not to do. It is common but just don't try to cheer your loved one up by telling jokes or telling them something about the situation that is funny. Later on, you can read their emotions and body language and see if it is appropriate. Initially, however, just respect their feelings.

Don't try to push them ahead to complete new actions. Respect that upset people are probably not ready to make decisions, potentially even simple ones. Take it slow and gauge how they feel.

How to Comfort Someone—For Special Cases

Special circumstances can be even more challenging, such as when someone is dying. You may not know the best way to comfort someone who has limited time left, but it is possible.

1.   Look for Cues

If your dying loved one is confused, you don't always need to correct them. It will be easier for you and better for them emotionally if you just go along with what they are saying instead of correcting them every few minutes.

2.   Be Open About Feelings

Many people suggest avoiding crying in front of someone who is dying, but this doesn't help anyone. It may lead to both of you crying, but it is inevitable. Being open about your feelings lets your loved one know how sad you are and how much you care about them. It may even be a refreshing change for your loved one to be able to talk about what will happen after death, both to them and those they love.

3.   Share the Situation with Kids

Despite common belief, children can handle death as long as it is explained properly. If someone is terminally ill, explain the situation to your children and encourage them to talk to the loved one. Most children will be brave enough to do so. This will also give the dying loved one the chance to say goodbye and children may bring a smile to their face, however briefly.

4.   Don't Miss Saying Goodbye

Even if you are uncomfortable with visiting someone on their deathbed, staying away will be harder. If you don't get the chance to say goodbye because you stayed away, you can never change that. Make the effort to say goodbye and it will ensure your loved one knows how much you care.

How to comfort someone who has lost a loved one:


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