It’s Brain Health Awareness Month! Exercise your brain with interactive activities and more with Staying Sharp.
by Val Walker, AARP Bulletin, October 28, 2010
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.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 30% off the first year of a World Explorer subscription.
25% off device and online privacy protection plans
25% off the first healthy meal delivery of $99+.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at