Alert
Close

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest! See official rules

Highlights

Open

Bob Dylan Talks!
Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

Horoscope

Aquarius - AARP Horoscope

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between Jan. 20 & Feb. 18

CONTESTS & SWEEPS

Life Reimagined Renew Year

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Miami skyline viewed through palm trees.

Enjoy fun in the sun during Life@50+, May 14-16, 2015

Most Popular

Viewed

The Author Speaks

Excerpt From 'The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress'

It can be a hard world to be soft in — to remove the Teflon we wear amid all the impatience and cynicism around us just to be there for someone who needs our love and support. Qualities like gentleness, patience, warmth and empathy can be so undervalued in this day and age that when we need to sit down with someone devastated by a loss or turbulent change in their lives, we often feel unsure about what to say or do.

Given how uncomfortable the act of comforting can feel, many people completely avoid getting close to a distressed or grieving person. They either barely acknowledge or say nothing at all about what the person is going through. Others offer cheerful remarks or uplifting platitudes such as "Something good will come out of this" or "God will show you the way." Still others drop off food, flowers or gifts, only to disappear after a week or two. Yet the person in pain can feel as isolated by the smiling well-wishers as by the avoidant ones. Sometimes grieving people find it easier to just hide, thinking that, at least this way, they won't make others feel bad.

But highly comforting people still prevail, albeit quietly in the background and without much fanfare. And they have much to teach those of us who wish to restore the lost art of comforting into our lives.

Reprinted from The Art of Comforting by Val Walker by arrangement with Tarcher, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2010 by Val Walker. Read an interview with Val Walker.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

AARP Bookstore

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular menu price orders at Papa John's.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

McCormick and Schmicks (McCormick and Schmicks)

Members save 10% every day when dining at McCormick and Schmick's.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.