Hello, welcome to today’s blog! In previous posts, I have opened up about my own difficult situations, & shared with you all how I choose to work through them. (Click here to read one of my blogs about finding strength in the midst of my own hardships) However, life has been throwing quite the curve-ball at me lately. These last six months, the people I care about have suffered more than I have seen in my entire life. Every time I turn around it seems like I’m off to another funeral, another friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, another person is battling depression, another person is getting no answers from doctors… & all I want to do is just truly be there for the people who need me. You too? Well, keep reading.
I wish it was easy to explain the feelings that come with knowing people you care about are suffering. The truth is, I never really understood, or felt those emotions until bad things were happening to the people I know, & love. Now that multiple people I care about are all going through different hardships, I have found myself feeling things to a greater extent than I have ever felt. Maybe not being in control of these tough situations has intensified my emotions, such as… Confusion; I’m not sure how such horrible things could happen to such good people. Anger; at the people who just don’t even try to understand, & make ignorant comments. & Sadness; for the pain these people, & their families are experiencing. These emotions come in random waves, & if you’re still reading- that means you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
When you love people who are suffering, it’s inevitable that these feelings will find their way into your heart at one point or another. I cannot tell you how many times these last six months that these emotions have crept up on me. With these things happening that are just so heavy on the heart, I find myself constantly asking, “Well, What can I do? How can I be there for these people? How can I be there for their loved ones?” So, I sat, & thought about all of the nice things people have done for me before; things that meant a lot to me when I needed a friend. Here are 7 ways to comfort someone who is suffering:
One. First things first, we care about these people, right? So express that to them. Make sure they know that they aren’t alone in these rough times. Hardships unfortunately make it easy for people to feel isolated, even if they don’t express that to you. Really let them know how much you appreciate, & care for them. Express to them how important their happiness is to you. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own lives, we forget to remind people how much we care for them. You may think that they already know you care, but giving them a nice reminder will truly prove that you do.
Two. Go out of your way to do something nice for them. Whether you do this by simply leaving random notes with words of encouragement around for them to find, or bringing them their favorite coffee, it really impacts a person more than just a, “I’m always here for you,” We don’t want to just say we will be there for someone, but we have to actually be there for them. Show that you are. It isn’t always easy for people hurting to reach out to someone, so this is where you take the initiative, & reach out to them. I cannot stress how important this step is!
E X A M P L E:
When I was in high school, I was suffering depression. My brothers all moved out, & we didn’t have a lot of money. My brother Jay decided to come pick me up one day to take me out. Before he arrived, I looked in the empty pantry, & was starving. I texted him, “Would you mind picking me up a burger from the dollar menu on your way here?” I in no way wanted to be a nuisance to him. I even felt a little embarrassed to ask.
He said yes, & I was beyond excited to eat that one dollar burger. A hot burger?! I would be on top of the world! I waited & waited, when he finally knocked on the door. I opened it eagerly, & was shocked at what I saw- my mouth literally dropped. Jay, standing there, not with just one lil bag with a burger for me, but hands full of multiple grocery bags. He smiled & said, “Hey Val, I got you guys groceries,”
“What??? I just asked for one burger!” I could barely get out. He giggled, & said he knew we had no food at the house, knew I spent days struggling to find food to eat. Jay brought the bags over to the table, & went back outside. “Where are you going??” I asked.
“To get the other bags in the car!” He told me. Jay made many trips to the car, & brought back more groceries than I’d seen in a longggg time. I was completely speechless. All I could do was cry tears of happiness, because it was such a moving gesture. I knew that for a few weeks, I wouldn’t have to worry about eating mayonnaise sandwiches nearly every meal. I could have hot pockets, or eggs, or waffles, etc. etc. etc! His actions were so kind, & genuine. After that day, I learned that when someone is struggling, the best thing you can do is go out of your way to show them that you care. That is what can change their life.
Three. Understand people handle pain differently. Some people prefer to be surrounded by others to feel comfort, whereas others would rather be alone. Don’t be afraid to ask someone what the most effective way is for them to cope. If they are they type that wants to keep busy, & wants people around, be there. Make sure they know you are there for them, & with them. If they are the person who prefers having some space, give them some (not too much!! Just enough so they have a little breathing room) What we definitely don’t want, is to give someone space who needs people there for them. & we also don’t want to be overbearing for someone who just needs a little time alone. We should ask what they prefer, be understanding of their answer, & accommodate to their needs.
Four. Just listen. Sometimes, a person struggling just needs to get it all off of their chest. If they want to talk about it, be an open ear for them. Truly listen to what they are saying, & try to understand. Just try. If they don’t say much, you don’t have to fill the silence with your opinion or give them a pep talk. Give them a minute to find the words. Also, be very mindful with the words you choose to respond with. When people are hurting, some comments come off as extremely insensitive, & rude. You can make someone feel even more isolated if you aren’t careful with your words. I don’t say this to scare you, but to kindly inform you so you can truly be of help to them. I say this, because it happened to me more than once recently.
E X A M P L E:
A few months ago, my life was a whirlwind of bad events. I’m the type of person that really struggles to find any words at all when I’m mentally suffering. Multiple times, I found myself with people who weren’t directly affected by the difficult things I was experiencing, & it was clearly hard for them to understand. While I was looking for the right words to express my pain, they didn’t bother truly listening to my words, or my uncomfortable body language. Instead, they just filled the silence, & went on & on about what they thought about it.
It felt like a huge slap in the face. I couldn’t help but think, I am grieving. Let me grieve. I don’t want to hear about your conspiracies or opinions about this right now. It isn’t going to change the facts. It isn’t going to make me feel better. Don’t make a person struggling feel more isolated than they already do. Just listen. Listen to their words, or their silence, & try to understand. Remember, that even their silence speaks volumes.
Five. Give them time to mourn. Allow them to feel the pain. It’s okay to not be okay, & to just need a little bit of time away from the chaotic world. Let them mourn. One of the nicest things a friend told me a few months ago when I was taking time off to grieve, was, “Whenever you’re feeling up to it, let’s get together,” They gave me the space I needed, but would be right there when I felt okay enough to face the world again. They didn’t pressure me into going out, or try to force me to do things I wasn’t mentally ready for. That friend made me feel 10x better than the people who acted like I was crazy for not wanting to go out, & party with them.
Six. Stay involved. If you tell someone you will always be there for them, then never check up on them again, are you really always there for them? I’ve said this before, & I will say it again- Not everyone is comfortable reaching out for help, & this is why it’s so important that you have to take the initiative. What will really make a difference in someone’s life is if you keep in touch with them, & continue to check up on them. That is what people truly need- A lil love every once in a while.
Seven. Direct them to professional help, if needed. Don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I really care about you, & want what’s best for you. I may not always know the right thing to say to help, but there are people who do. Here is the contact number/email for ______ if you are interested,” Click here for an updated list of hotlines to call that are 100% free, & keep information confidential. The list includes numbers for:
ABORTION, ABUSE, ADDICTION, CANCER, CARE GIVERS, CHRISTIAN COUNSELING, CHRONIC ILLNESS/PAIN, CRISIS #S (TEENS UNDER 18), CRISIS #S (ANY AGE), CRISIS PREGNANCY HELPLINE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, EATING DISORDERS, FAMILY VIOLENCE, GAMBLING, GRIEF/LOSS, HOMELESS/SHELTERS, LGBTQIA+, PARENTS, POISON, RUNAWAYS, SALVATION, SELF-INJURY, SEXUAL ADDICTION, & SUICIDE
Thank you for reading this blog post! I wish the best of luck to you, & the person you are comforting! If you enjoyed this post & would like to read more of my work in the future, on the top righthand side of this page is a field where you can type your email into to follow this blog. (If you are on your phone it will be underneath this post) Much love.
♡ Valerie Karen.