Learning How to Give Comfort

· November 9, 2015

When someone goes through a difficult time in their lives, the last thing they want to hear are voices asking them to ignore their pain, to downplay its importance, or that there are worse things that could happen. What this person actually needs is understanding, and not for their suffering to be minimized. 

Honoring another’s pain

The majority of us at some point will experience a difficult loss, painful events, maybe an illness that is difficult to handle, or some situation that critically affects us. What we hope for of others in these moments is not superficial words, but rather attitudes that allow us to feel their understanding and support. 

When someone is in pain, diminishing the importance the situations is the wrong approach. Sometimes we mistakenly think doing so will help relieve the burden. But what we’re really doing is denying the legitimate feelings of the other. The worst is that generally, when we approach another’s pain this way, it’s because we’re simply try to maintain our own personal feeling of peace.


A person who is grief-stricken or distraught usually only wants to be heard, completely and without judgement. The act of listening itself is the best way to console the person who is suffering. Knowing someone is prepared to listen to that suffering without questioning it actually eases the pain.

Though some people do not want to talk about what happened to them, and only hope that others respect their silenceIn these cases, avoiding referring to the issue at hand is a way to understand and give the person company. It will not be interpreted as a being indifferent, but rather the opposite.

Being sensitive to others

There are no exact formulas that tell us how to give comfort to someone who is suffering. Each person has a particular way of accepting pain and experiencing suffering. The only requirement for consoling another person is having a genuine desire to do so.

To give comfort is essentially offering warm and affectionate company, respect, and support. In offering all that, it is important to demonstrate, with your gestures and your attitude, that you are there. That their pain does not scare you, and that you are ready to accept whatever it is. That your decision is the stay there, to be with them while they endure their pain.

You can never ask the other person too many times if there is some way you can help them, something you can do for them. Sometimes, people have needs that are not so apparent. Or maybe we don’t pay enough attention to some actions that could be decisive for the person who is involved in whatever the difficult situation is.

On the other hand, it is not the same thing to console an adult as it is to console a child. In young people, the act of consolation may be more simple.

Finally, the most important, in any case, is that you open your heart to the feelings and needs of the other person. It’s a great comfort to know that someone has the best intentions in listening to and understanding us. Giving comfort is an art and all art requires sensitivity and willpower.