Finding the Right Words and The Right Way to Comfort Someone

Finding the Right Words and The Right Way to Comfort Someone
By Body Language Expert Patti Wood
What to say when you can't find the "right" words to talk to someone who is experiencing tough times like health issues, job disruption or loss  Frequently, people don't show up during
tough times simply because they feel like they don't have the "right" words. 

Here are suggestions about how to respond to friends when they are grieving or going through a hard time and need some extra support.
I suggest that you listen to the voice and watch the body language of the person who you wish to speak to and see and note where they are emotionally. Be fully present with them, and focus on their discomfort instead of your own. You may not say the perfect thing, but that's a small hiccup, don't perform an act of help, with an old script platitude, be helpful, People often avoid those going through loss and struggle. Being present and connected is a gift.

To be helpful you will want to know if they wish to go deep or if they need to pull back. Make full complete eye contact, breath with them. If can be authentic match their posture so you can chemically for a moment feel what they are feeling.
You know that when you match and mirror body language with someone authentically you can create the same chemicals they are. This is what creates empathy. Don't be afraid to feel a small bit of sadness or pain briefly with them. That' a gift you can give them.

It's important to know that when someone is laid bare in grief, they can read you your nonverbal cues more acutely. They know if you are open and willing to be with them and listen to them and if they can share their truth. They will shut down or pull back or have to work to make you feel comfortable if you a plastic, and only go to the surface or you show more discomfort than they do. So be careful not to give them pat statements like, "I am sorry for your loss." You can say that but use different unscripted words.
What can you say when someone is going through a hard time?
You can ask how the loss is affecting you. Be prepared they may go deep "I have lost my partner and my best friend, and it hurts so much."
You can say you can share your deep pain with me, it's safe to tell me how you are really feeling. You can say, "I have the time and want to spend the time with you to sit with you, to be with you, to talk on the phone with you. You can say, "I know the pain is big." Or "I know it's a deep aching pain. They may say, "Thank you for asking and standing in my grief with me for a moment." "My pain is so big, thank you for being in sorrow with me."
You can just ask to sit in silence with them and or give them a long hug.
You can share memories of their situation and how hard you know it is and memories of they lost. You can say, "I remember how you and Roy loved to sing in the car together when we went to the beach. I will miss hearing his voice joining with yours." 
Rather than say, "Call me anytime if you want to talk. "You can share three things you want to do for them and ask them of those three what would be the most beneficial now. "I can call you every day this week at 4:00 to check-in, or I can stop by Thursday for a short 10-minute visit." Or I can drop off dinner one night you chose this week." Which of those would be the best for you?

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at