The Mating Grounds

21 Ways to Comfort Someone Who is Hurting: Empathy Validation Understanding and More

How to Comfort Someone Who is Hurting

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to comfort someone who is going through a difficult time? It can be nerve-wracking and challenging to know how to be there for someone who is hurting.

After all, everyone’s grief process is unique, and what may work for one person may not work for someone else. In this article, we’ll explore some caring and reassuring actions you can take to comfort someone, no matter what their unique process looks like.

We’ll also consider shared traits of comforting words and actions that can help build empathy, compassion, validation, understanding, and encouragement.

Unique Grief Processes

The first thing to understand when comforting someone who is hurting is that everyone processes grief differently. One person may express sadness openly, while another may become more withdrawn.

Some people may find solace in spending time alone, while others may prefer to be around friends and family. The most important thing you can do is to ask the person how they’re feeling and try to understand their specific needs.

This may mean simply allowing them to express their emotions without judgment or offering to take them out for a cup of coffee or a walk in the park.

Shared Traits of Comforting Words and Actions

While everyone’s grieving process is unique, there are some shared traits of comforting words and actions that can help provide comfort and support, including empathy, compassion, validation, understanding, and encouragement. Empathy means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to see things from their perspective.

Try to understand the magnitude of their loss and offer them comfort and support in whatever way they need. Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and concern for someone else’s well-being.

Show compassion by acknowledging their pain and offering emotional support. Validation means recognizing and acknowledging the person’s feelings and emotions as being valid and understandable.

Let them know that what they’re feeling makes sense and that you’re there for them. Understanding the Person means taking the time to get to know them and their specific needs.

For example, if they prefer to talk about their feelings, you should listen actively, without trying to fix anything. Encouraging Talking (if they want to) is another way to provide comfort and support.

Many people find talking about their feelings to be therapeutic, while others may need time and space to process their emotions alone. Offering Physical Affection (if appropriate and acceptable) is another way to show support and comfort.

This might include hugging them if they want to be hugged or simply sitting close to them. Showing Unconditional Support and Commitment means being there for them in whatever way they need, for as long as they need.

Be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or simply a comforting presence. Withholding Opinions means avoiding offering advice or opinions, unless the person specifically asks for them.

Not Biting off More than You Can Chew means not trying to solve all of their problems or provide all the solutions to their pain. Instead, focus on being there for them as a supportive friend.

Avoiding Platitudes and Exhortations means avoiding generic encouragements like “time heals all wounds” or “cheer up, things will get better.” These platitudes can come off as dismissive and unhelpful. Saying Goodbye (when appropriate) is an opportunity to offer your love and support to someone who may be passing away.

A visit to someone on their deathbed can be a powerful act of kindness and love. Being Honest About What You’re Feeling (if asked) is essential, especially if you’re feeling numb or uncertain.

It’s okay to admit that you’re struggling to find the right words or to feel unsure of how to comfort someone. Not Trying to be the One Most Affected by their Pain means not competing with the person who is grieving.

Instead, focus on being a supportive and authentic presence in their life. Offering a Brief and Honest Tribute to the Deceased (if asked) can be a way to honor their memory and provide comfort to the person who is grieving.

Make sure the tribute is kind, genuine, and suits the situation and the audience. Encouraging Self-Care means encouraging the person who is grieving to take care of themselves, by taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk, or watching a movie.

Respecting the Person’s Process and Needs for Comforting means giving the person space and time to grieve in their own way and at their own pace. Everyone’s grief process is unique.

Balancing Giving Space and Showing Support means finding the right balance between giving the person space while demonstrating that you’re there for them. This might mean sending flowers or a thoughtful gift card, making calls or sending texts, or simply being there to listen.

Taking Care of Yourself means making sure you’re taking care of your own emotional needs. This includes finding ways to manage your own stress and anxiety, practicing self-care, and seeking support from friends and family if you need it.

Showing How Much You Care means finding small ways to show that you care, such as dropping off a meal or a care package, or simply stopping by to keep someone company. Offering a Healing Distraction means finding ways to make the person feel better and more positive.

This might include watching a funny movie, taking a walk in the park, or working together on a creative project. Writing a Letter can be a powerful way to express your thoughts and emotions in a way that feels authentic and honest.

Letters can be deeply personal and meaningful, providing comfort and support to the person who is grieving. Not Presuming to Tell Them What They Need to Do means avoiding the temptation to offer advice or tell the person what they need to do.

Instead, focus on being present, listening, and providing loving support. Being Ready to Help However You Can means being open and willing to help in whatever way the person needs.

This might mean simply being a listening ear or jumping in to help with practical tasks, such as grocery shopping or cleaning.


By taking the time to understand someone’s unique process, we can provide a comforting presence and much-needed support. Empathy, compassion, validation, understanding, and encouragement are all shared traits of comforting words and actions.

Being there for someone who is grieving can be challenging, but with the right approach, we can provide comfort and support during challenging times. Remember to prioritize self-care and be there for yourself as well.

How to Comfort Someone Over Text

In this digital era, text messages have become a more convenient way of communicating, especially in situations where calling may not always be possible. While it can be challenging to find the right words to comfort someone over text, there are some helpful tips you can follow to make your message empathetic, sincere, and comforting.

Communication Options (Call vs Text)

When considering whether to call or text, it’s essential to keep in mind the urgency of the situation and the person’s communication preferences. In some cases, a phone call may be the best option, especially if the situation calls for immediate support or comfort.

However, if the person may prefer a more muted approach, or if it’s not possible to make a phone call at the moment, a text message can be a good option.

Caring Message (even without the right words)

Sometimes, the right words may feel elusive, and you may feel like nothing you say could adequately express your thoughts or emotions. But it’s essential to remember that showing that you care and are thinking of the person can itself be a comfort.

You don’t have to have the perfect words – even a simple message of “I’m here for you” or “I’m thinking of you” can be a powerful way of showing your support.

Honesty About Difficulty Finding the Right Words

It’s okay to be honest with the person about how you’re feeling, especially if you’re struggling to find the perfect words to say. Being open and authentic about your difficulty in finding the right words can help you connect with the person and make your message come across as more sincere.

Making the Message About Them (not You)

When sending a comforting message, it’s important to focus on the person who is hurting and their needs, rather than on yourself. Avoid venting about your feelings or focusing too much on your own experience.

Instead, make the message explicitly about the other person and how you can support them.

Sincere Condolences

If you’re sending a message of condolences, make sure it comes across as sincere and personal. Avoid generic, impersonal messages like “thoughts and prayers,” as these can feel insincere and dismissive.

Instead, consider adding a personal touch, such as remembering a favorite memory of the person, or expressing how much you appreciate them.

Offering Help

If the person is going through a difficult time, it’s essential to offer practical help and support. This can be as simple as asking if there’s anything you can do, or offering specific help like grocery shopping or running errands.

Even if the person doesn’t take you up on your offer, simply knowing that you’re willing to help can be comforting. In summary, while texting may not be the most personal way to comfort someone, it can still be an effective way to show your support and offer comfort, especially in situations where other forms of communication may not be possible.

By following these tips and taking a sincere, empathetic approach, you can help comfort someone who is going through a difficult time. In conclusion, comforting someone who is hurting can be a challenging task but providing empathy, compassion, validation, understanding, and encouragement is essential to support them.

It’s essential to respect the person’s process and needs and offer practical help and support. In addition, the article highlights how to comfort someone over text by keeping the focus on them and being honest about the difficulty in finding the right words.

No matter your approach, whether in-person or over text, it’s important to be present and attentive to the person’s needs. By showing you care and are willing to help, you can make a positive impact and provide the support and comfort that is needed during challenging times.

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