Aug 10, 2020 in Life Coaching

What to do When Your Loved Ones are in Pain

Helping someone in pain requires empathy and understanding. Here are some tips on what you can do!

Shiwani Gurwara

Life Coach

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Helping someone in pain requires empathy and understanding. Here are some tips on what you can do!

As a younger person, I often struggled with dealing with someone else’s loss or pain. My mother would ask me to call up and speak to those going through a tough time or grieving the loss of a dear one and I would shudder inside, thinking “What can I possibly say that will ease their pain”.

Yes, I know there are things that you can say like “They are in a better place”, “Time will heal your pain”, “We can do nothing about it”. But I have always thought of them as clichéd statements that one spews out without an understanding of what the sufferer is going through. Societal norms have never come easy to me, ever.

Which brings me to my journey to understand what one can do honestly and genuinely to ease the pain of your loved ones? And here is what my journey, exploration, and understanding have taught me.

1. Recognize your own Discomfort

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Shiwani Gurwara

Life Coach

75 $ / session

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Unless you acknowledge and understand your own discomfort, you will not be able to move forward. Realize that you do not have to feel guilty about not being in the kind of tough situation they are in. Believe that you can do something for the one suffering. Accepting your discomfort helps you overcome the feeling when you really want to help.

2. Pain is not Logical

As illogical as the pain may feel to you, grief and pain are not logical. The things that pain someone emotionally, are not the same. While death may be a universal equalizer, there are a lot of other situations in which someone can be in pain. Just because you do not think the situation warrants this much pain, does not make his/her pain less ‘real’ for him/her. Feelings arise from thoughts and these thoughts can later be managed, converted to positive ones, and a whole host of other things. But, for now, that feeling of pain is totally ‘real’ for the one who is feeling it. Focus on that!

3. Be Present

There are various stages of grief and pain and this does not apply only to pain from losing someone to death. Your mere presence can provide solace because when you are present you make a statement that you are there and you showed up! It communicates that you care and you are there in case the person wants to reach out to you. Just making an appearance is a great way of showing your support.

4. Listen

We say the silliest of things to people when trying to console them. ‘Look at the bright side’, ‘snap out of it’, ‘its only in your head’, ‘Don’t think about it’, ‘God does not give us more than we can handle’, and I can really go on. With each of these statements, I hear a retort that the sufferer is giving in her head about how silly it sounds to them.

None of what you say is actually wrong. However, giving advice when the need is to feel the emotion and get it out can be harmful. Be patient and allow them to process the feeling. This may mean you need to be there and be present to ‘listen’ when they are ready to talk.

4. Check-in and Ask

If you are itching to do something to help, you can offer help in ways that are practical. Make sure they are rested, have eaten, and are comfortable. Do not force it, though. If you have to leave, then check in periodically. Be ready for some backlash at times. As they process their emotions, the anger stage is also likely to come at some stage!

5. Don’t try to fix it

Each person has their own way of dealing with pain. Some like to talk it out. Be there to listen. Some like to cry it out. Be there and just sit while holding their hand. Some like to really get angry (and even throw things). Be there to patiently allow them to do that (for which you will have to really be secure in your own being). Some will ask for advice. At such a time, assess the situation and direct them to a professional rather than telling them what to do. What worked for you or someone else in a similar situation may not be their best solution!

Last of all, remember that their pain is not yours. If you allow that pain to hurt you, you will not be capable of helping them in the best way that you can because you will be nursing your own pain and hurt. The best way to care and love people is to be detached (and detachment does not mean that you do not care or love, as it is often made out to be)!

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