H.O.P.E. for Helping Those Who are Hurting

It’s been an atypical week.

I’ve been on the receiving end of people who are hurting. Different “shapes,” “sizes,” and “scenarios” of pain. But pain, nonetheless. It can be pain as a result of having lost a loved one, pain from injustice, or pain from living in this imperfect world with imperfect people. Pain from any angle is still pain.

For any atypical week that I have, I handle and process these situations in my typical way – trying to offer a word of affirmation in the midst of life events that blindside the people we know.

We try hard to comfort, but let’s be honest. Many of us are uncomfortable in their pain and, because we care, we want the pain to go away quickly. Sometimes we don’t know what to say or we say nothing at all.

Here is a simple and powerful formula to help those who are in pain:

H. = Hug

When appropriate to do so, a hug says… “My words are void of making you feel better, but my touch imparts how much I care.”

And let’s face it…there’s nothing you can say that will lessen their pain.

O. = Offer

If someone is grieving a loss, offer comfort after the casseroles have ceased. Offer a meal long after the week of the funeral.

Offering a service or an intentional act of kindness says that you know would help them says, “I acknowledge that this pain has interrupted your life. I still want to serve you in a small way even though time has passed.”

P. = Plan

Plan a time to get together with the person in pain. As someone who has experienced different “shapes” and “sizes” of pain, it hurts when people withdraw or disappear altogether.

To plan a lunch, dinner, or coffee date says…. “I want to check in and just see how you’re doing.”

That’s it. And if your time with the person hurting is just a time of allowing them to cry while supplying tissues, it’s not wasted time. Be a safe and confidential person with whom they can let down their guard and cry or vent as needed. Be the person who offers no judgment, just a shoulder.

E. = Empathy

Empathy doesn’t come naturally; it is learned.

Empathy says…. “I don’t need facts,”  “I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling, ” and “I am so very sorry.”

Empathy allows their pain to override the amount of facts you know. If it is someone outside of your family, the true test of whether or not you really feel empathy for the one hurting, you won’t desire the need to know facts. The other’s pain is enough. Put yourself emotionally in their situation.  Be in the moment with the person hurting. Don’t hurry into their future by offering painful platitudes such as “There is a reason,” “There is a plan,” or “You’ll be fine.”

Learn the art of offering hope in an atypical way. This is Hope Unveiled!


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