The Art of Comforting

A couple of months ago I was wandering through the local branch of the library when I found this gem. Once I picked it up I saw the cherry blossoms on the cover and immediately thought of spring. I had almost put this book back on the shelf when I remembered an experience I had prior to this, I had reached out to a gentleman with a plate of homemade cookies, I decided to check this book out. I volunteer in my city and talk with people I don’t know that well on a regular basis, a couple of others and I talked with this man. About 30 minutes later, some tears and a lot of talking he shared some personal hardships he was currently facing. This encounter was hard for me, to say that I am awkward when trying to comfort someone is a huge understatement. The extent of my comforting skills are listening, a pat on the shoulder, and some mumbling that I hope sounded encouraging.

There was so much I wanted to underline, highlight, and pages to dog ear in this book. Val Walker holds a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling with specialization study in grief, loss and disability. That being said a majority of the book is focused around comforting people during the loss of a loved one, but the applications in this book can be used in an array of situations. This book is a straightforward easy read. The author provides a great walk through of dos and don’ts to get you started in the right direction. The she breaks down different types and ways of comforting. Val provides profiles from seasoned professional caregivers in different environments (VA hospital, local outreach, hospice, schools, retreat owners, ect) each person also has a different type of comforting style. Using real life examples, creates an easy way to incorporate comforting techniques in everyday life. Within a week of finishing the book I was able to use the advice that was given in this book. I may have borrowed The Art of Comforting on a whim a couple of months ago, but have since then I have purchased a copy of my own to have as a reference on hand.

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