Giving Comfort

imageThis is a tough subject because sometimes I don’t know how to give someone comfort, or maybe I should say I’m not certain what kind of comfort they need.  Do you need a hug, ice cream, new dress, alone time, advice or possibly a few shots of whiskey?  Maybe you need all of that or maybe it’s best not to say anything at all and just be that soft place to fall.

 

The Merriam-Webster definition is this: 1)  To cause (someone) to feel less-worried, upset, frightened, etc.: to give comfort to (someone)  2)  to give strength and hope to  3)  to ease the grief or trouble of.

To cause someone to feel less or ease their trouble.  Think about that for a moment or two. To me that means lessening whatever burden they perceive themselves to be having. This is probably where I would give them a hug and make some homemade chocolate chip cookies, do you feel better yet??  That doesn’t always work though.  When I’m around people,  I can get a good sense of their feelings.  I don’t know how to explain this to you but it’s almost like I absorb whatever it is they have going on.  For me, feelings are contagious.  Any negative feelings they have, I soak up like a sponge and it’s not intentional.  It’s like having a tornado swirling around in my head that I can’t make sense of.  I just have a great deal of empathy for people.

You know what’s it like being around someone troubled.  They have a tendency to be a wee bit irrational.  And it’s understandable, they’re upset, of course they’re not going to be thinking clearly.  That’s why they’re talking to you, maybe not in a language you understand (honestly most people don’t make a lick of sense when upset), but because they trust you to be that soft place to fall.  How you handle it determines whether they feel better or worse.

I have a dear friend who has a lot of turmoil in her life right now.  Problems at work, a divorce,  loss of her home and her parents are having serious health issues.  That’s a lot happening all at the same time. So like the sponge I am, I soak up her bad feelings and try to ease her stress.  She made me a list of all the negatives and I took that same list and converted each item on her list into a positive.  It wasn’t easy in some instances but I gave it a shot.  At the end of my list I also added a little personal note that said this, ” God has been working very hard to get you in the right place, trust his direction”.  I wasn’t able to give her a hug or cookie ( she prefers whiskey anyway) because of the distance between us but I could feel her relief.  I gave her a soft place to fall.

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It’s difficult to open yourself up and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You just don’t know how the other person will react and that may be why so many people stuff their feelings deep down inside and try to handle it on their own.  Maybe that’s why so many people would rather pay to see a therapist.  A therapist will help you calm down and see things in a more rational way (and you might get a cookie.)  They ease your trouble in a positive way. So remember, it took courage for someone to open up to you all the craziness in their head, you just need to be that soft place for them to fall.

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22 thoughts on “Giving Comfort

  1. You’ve captured the tricky art of comforting someone quite well.
    I get uneasy when trying to comfort somebody mainly because I don’t know what they want. What if they want some time alone and I keep bugging them to tell me what’s wrong. Or what if I give them space when what they needed was somebody to listen? So many questions go through your head.
    A hug usually works. And who can say no to cookies and ice cream? Giving them space – that depends on the person they are. That’s what I believe anyway. 😀

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  2. When you know that you have made the world a better place to live for your dear ones in whatever way you can, it fills you with so much contentment and happiness. Like you said, just a shoulder to cry on or a patient listener will do but yes a cookie or whiskey can help too 🙂 I think your efforts in converting each of the negatives of your troubled friend to positives is to be commended. I hope things get better for her and I will be sure to remember her in my prayers as that is the only thing I can do from here 🙂

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    1. That’s very sweet of you, thank you. I’m touched by your comments, for you to pray for her troubles to be removed. You must have a very big heart and your compassion is both, well received and undeniable. You have a beautiful soul!

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    1. You’re right. I suppose there are many people who have no one they trust enough to turn to when they are troubled. They would need to find an outlet, like writing for example or working out, to remove the random, crazy, negative thoughts swirling in their own mind.

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  3. I think that it is important that you identify what comfort they need, if in fact you are open to providing comfort. What works for you, may not be what they are needing and vice versa. I know that all the best of intentions seem to go unwarranted if not perceived the right way. Take that into consideration when you are giving as well as receiving the comfort. Maybe it takes a minute to gain perspective but the effort in the first place should go a long way.

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  4. “They ease your trouble in a positive way. So remember, it took courage for someone to open up to you all the craziness in their head, you just need to be that soft place for them to fall.” Awesome way to phrase it…

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