The Savior spent his final hours giving counsel and consolation to his dearest friends. Instead of thinking of his own impending death, He focused on providing relief for his grieving disciples, promising, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (KJV John 14:18). Every individual has a similar opportunity to seek to relieve suffering and pain in the life of another.
Following are five simple ways to provide comfort for those who are sorrowing, grieving or discouraged.
You don’t have to rely on Hallmark cards to find words of sympathy and consolation. Thoughtful, sincere expressions of love and concern spoken in kind-hearted tones can do much to comfort, soothe and cheer. Without experiencing the same pain as another, you may not be able to fully empathize with her, but you can sympathize, validate and appreciate her pain. A tender note, a caring phone call or a timely visit provide opportunities not only to communicate your love and support, but also to engage in attentive listening and healing conversations.
The power of human touch to provide relief, reassurance and comfort is undeniable. Oftentimes a gentle pat or a close embrace can communicate love and concern more quickly and effectively than words. Stroking a sobbing child’s hair, clasping the hand of a brokenhearted friend or putting an arm around the shoulder of one who is discouraged can soothe, calm and uplift in a matter of moments. When you can’t find the words to comfort one in need, let your hug say it all.
One of the greatest expressions of love and support for one who is suffering is selfless service. During some of my darkest hours, kind-hearted individuals sustained me through their consistent, creative, thoughtful acts of service.
I will long remember the group of youth who planted colorful flowers in front of my bedroom window when I was confined to bed; the sister who repeatedly drove six hours round-trip to visit me in the hospital; the friends who decorated my windows with encouraging notes and sunny pictures to help me fight the winter blues; the children who cooked meals, cleaned and took care of each other for extended periods of time when I was incapacitated by the crushing weight of depression; the women who laundered and ironed my family’s clothes when my mother was dying; the healing, heartening visits from relatives who sacrificed time, money, and energy to come to our family’s rescue; the heroic, unending efforts of my husband to help our family through intense physical, financial and emotional difficulties; and the quiet deeds of countless others who provide relief at every turn.
Read aloud from an uplifting book, bring a meal, babysit the kids, stock the pantry shelves or sit and listen. Find a way to serve, and you have found a way to comfort.
Any offering given with love is sure to brighten and strengthen another. Gifts that appeal to the senses are especially comforting to the soul.
Plants, artwork, handicrafts and decorations please the eye and gladden the heart.
Scented candles, flowers and aromatic bath soaps provide refreshing smells.
Homemade “comfort foods,” special treats, fresh fruit and soothing drinks encourage relaxation and contentment.
Soothing music and upbeat tunes elevate the spirit.
Soft blankets, warm clothing and moisturizing lotions comfort the body and warm the heart.
No human word or deed can provide solace like that which is freely given by God. His very nature and defining characteristic is love. One of his own titles and another name for the Holy Spirit is “the Comforter.” God constantly stretches out his hand to comfort and bless his children and promises, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (KJV Matthew 11:30)
Scripture is replete with messages of counsel and consolation from him who intimately understands our pain, individually carries our sorrows and eternally provides peace. Turn to almost any Psalm to find words of strength and comfort. Read the stories of the Savior in the New Testament to discover truths and doctrines that will heal the wounded heart. Offer sincere prayers for loved ones who carry heavy burdens and exercise faith in their behalf.
Remember the words of the psalmist: “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (KJV Psalm 147:3)
In the words of Linda Burton, president of a worldwide women’s organization, “We all have burdens to bear and burdens to share … ‘We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.’”