How to Find Words of Comfort When Your Loved One Feels Bad

About how to support a loved one if he is going through a misfortune. -ploho-d055574.jpg” alt=”How to find words of comfort when a loved one feels bad” />

Kristina Yatkovskaya Author and editor.

“Grieving is no more talked about than sex, faith, and even the death itself that gave birth to it,” writes Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, in the book “Plan B: How to survive adversity, gather strength and start living again.”

Sandberg, along with her children, experienced the death of her husband and was not afraid to be honest about it. She has collected her experience, as well as the results of research by psychologists, to help thousands of people around the world cope with their own grief.

We know how difficult it can be to support a loved one who is in trouble. Sometimes the suffering of others hits us even more painfully than our own adversity. And very often we cannot find the right words to comfort and just keep silent. Here we have put together some tips for you on how to properly support a person experiencing adversity.

— 1 —

Even people who have experienced the most terrible sufferings, often want to talk about them. When we are hurt, we need to know two things: that the feelings we are experiencing are normal and that we have someone to support us. By behaving towards suffering people as if nothing happened, we deprive them of this.

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Regular “How are you?” greetings they hurt because the people who say them don't seem to recognize that something significant has happened. If instead people were to ask, “How do you feel today?” it would show that they understand how difficult it is for a person every day.

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Not everyone is able to easily talk about a personal tragedy. We all choose when and where to do it and whether to do it at all. However, there is strong evidence that speaking frankly about difficult events can be beneficial for mental and physical health. Having a conversation like this with a friend or family member can often help you sort through your own feelings and feel understood.

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When tragedy strikes in your life, you usually find that you are no longer surrounded by people – you are surrounded by platitudes. The best thing you can do is admit it. Literally say the words: “I acknowledge your pain. I'm there.”

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Until we acknowledge the problem, it's not going anywhere. Trying not to notice anything, those who suffer isolate themselves, and those who could offer them support distance themselves. Both sides must go towards each other. Sincere words of sympathy are a great start. The problem will not go away just by your wish, but you can say, “I see. I see how you suffer. And I care.”

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It seems natural that friends are always ready to support friends, but there are certain barriers that prevent this. There are two types of emotional reactions to someone else's pain: empathy, which motivates you to help, and anxiety, which makes you avoid its source.

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< p>When we learn that a person we care about has lost his job, is undergoing chemotherapy, or is going through a divorce, at first we think: “We need to talk to him.” But then, immediately after this first impulse, we are visited by doubts: “What if I say something wrong? What if he doesn't feel comfortable talking about it? Am I being too intrusive?”

When these doubts arise, they lead to excuses such as: “He has many friends, but we are not so close.” Or, “She must be very busy. Don't bother her again.” We put off talking or offering help until we feel guilty for not doing it sooner… and then we decide it’s too late.

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Those who turn their backs on you in difficult times try to distance themselves from emotional pain out of a sense of self-preservation. Such people, seeing how someone is drowning in their grief, fear – perhaps subconsciously – that they, too, can be pulled into this abyss.

Others feel helpless; they feel that nothing they can say or do will improve the situation, so they decide not to say or do anything. But you don't have to do anything out of the ordinary. Just dropping by to visit a friend is already quite a lot.

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There is no single way to grieve, just as there is no single way to comfort . What helps one person does not help another, and what helps today may not help tomorrow.

As children, we were taught to follow the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated . But when someone near you is suffering, you need to follow the platinum rule: treat others the way they would like to be treated. Catch the signs and react with understanding, and even better – react with action.

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Concrete actions help, because, not while solving the problem, they nevertheless reduce the damage from it. “Some things in life cannot be fixed. But they need to be experienced, ”says psychotherapist Megan Devine. Even small things like holding a person's hand can help.