Comforting Others
By Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

The Bible tells us “life is full of trouble,” Job 14:1. Therefore we all will experience a time or times where we are in need of comfort. Likewise, the Bible also says we should “mourn with those who mourn,” Romans 12:15, so it is safe to say we will also experience times when we are the comforters. For many, this is not a comfortable position. We often want to “fix” situations and may feel like we are not helping if the person’s situation does not change. How can I really be a help if I can not make things better? If I can not make the person feel better?
While teaching second grade, I witnessed the excitement on children’s faces when their parents visited the classroom. This would be the highlight of their day. Small children view their parents as superheroes. Mommy and Daddy can always turn situations around. As children mature they realize their parents are humans without super powers. Although mommy and daddy “can no longer make the monsters in the closet go away,” they feel comfort knowing their parents are present and in their corner. How can I be present with someone who is mourning? How can I offer true comfort? How can I be in someone’s corner?

First, It is really ok if you do not know what to say. Many do not feel at ease sitting in silence. We want to be able to say something. Listening to what is said and also to words that are not spoken is one of the best ways to demonstrate your presence. The one who is mourning may need space to be alone but also would like to know someone is near.

Next, remember that similar is not the same. We may have a similar experience with someone. But no two experiences/losses/disappointments/hurt are the same. The phrase “I know what you are going through” is said in sincerity but it is not totally accurate. Hurt/pain is personal. Our experiences, although similar to another, are unique to us and no one can fully understand what we endure. We can reflect on what was comforting to us when we experienced a similar event and ask if it would be helpful before being presumptuous.

Lastly, do not miss opportunities to be consoling thinking others will fulfill the need. Several years ago a couple whom I was acquainted with suffered a loss. Because of their notoriety, I believed my presence was not needed and delayed my visit to express condolences. Sadly, after arriving at their home, I discovered they had been alone for most of the time and received very little comfort and support. They expressed their appreciation for my practical gifts, listening ear, but mostly for my presence. We should not underestimate how our unique gifts/talents can be a blessing to others.

When we express love and concern for those who are hurting we offer security. They feel safe and are more comfortable to be vulnerable with their feelings. The person can hear your voice in the silence assuring them of your unconditional presence and availability.

Perhaps you have not received comfort during a time of loss. Perhaps you have comforted others but have not felt this in return. Perhaps you need someone who will mourn with you. Ready to take the next step.


Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

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