From the Front Lines

Comfort Those in Need of Comfort: 7 Things You Can Do

Do you know someone who has recently received very bad news? Or, do you have a friend who seems down? Even if you don’t know what to say, there might be something you can do. Here are 7 suggestions from the frontlines:

1. Take them a gift.

Just a couple of months into Claire’s cancer treatment, I was feeling pretty detached from my friends. One particularly difficult day the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a very good friend standing there. She was holding a pan of Rice Krispie treats. She handed me the treats and said, “We were already making them, and we thought of you so we just dumped in some more marshmallows.” She made it sound like a small thing, but it was a very big thing to me.

2. Write them a note.

Throughout the first six months of Claire’s very intense treatment, I was not always myself. This made it difficult to be gracious when talking with people face-to-face at times. Notes of love and encouragement were my saving grace. I absolutely clung to those words - an email, a blog comment, a handwritten note slipped to me in church, or even a card in my mailbox. You would be surprised how many times I re-read the notes from loved ones.

3.  Ask them if they want to talk, but don’t expect them to.

I am, by nature, a very chatty person, so it surprised me how exhausting it was for me to talk about me or even Claire. The offer to talk was appreciated, but so was the acceptance if I said no.

4. Talk to them like you normally would.

     If you normally tell your friend all about your child’s sleeping problems, continue to do so. It is a nice reprieve from one’s own difficulties to hear about someone else’s daily challenges however menial.
     5. Pray for them specifically.

At a women’s conference I heard a speaker say, “If you pray general prayers, you’ll get general answers. If you want specific answers, pray for specific things.” Pray for healing for your friend, for comfort, for answers, for strength to do hard things, and for a bit of happiness in their day.

6. Tell them you are praying for them.

I felt the strength of other’s prayers in behalf of our family. It was still nice to know who was doing that praying. It often brought me to tears to know someone had remembered my family during their prayers, especially the children who prayed for Claire without fail. There is power in joining together in unified prayer.

7.  Be in it for the long haul.

The fall-out from a trial is much more than we can possibly know. The grief might last much longer for the afflicted person then we might expect. I remember someone giving a talk in church the week after Claire’s diagnosis. She mentioned our family and said, “The Bluhm family is in it for the long haul.” She then encouraged the ward to also be ‘in it’ with us. And, oh, how they were! They brought us dinners every week for the first 6 months. Several girls, one in particular, babysat Avery during Claire’s weekly doctor’s visits with no expectation of pay. One wonderful woman wrote a comment on the blog almost every single time I made an entry. Then at church, she always made eye contact and smiled. I learned to expect it and look for it. These good people did this for two and a half years. Be ‘in it’ with your friend.

Did I miss anything? What else do you find helpful when you are struggling? I’d love if you added to the list. Let’s start a discussion and learn from each other.


  1. This is so great. I am the WORST at knowing how to deal with difficult situations. Most of the time I wait to do something until they ask (meals, babysitting, etc.), but this is a good reminder on HOW to be proactively comforting others.

    I also appreciate knowing that just a note can ease the burden. So often I feel sheepish writing an email or a note to someone I'm not really close with, worried that it will be taken as cliche. Knowing what to say really isn't my strong suit, but it's good to know that a simple note of encouragement really can make the difference in a heartbreaking situation.

    1. Hi Ash! Thanks for your comment. I like that you pointed out that saying something is not your strong suit, but there are other ways to show you care. Like, I remember you offering us dinner several times even though you hadn't signed up on the RS sign-up sheet. Sometimes it was the surprise meals that were the best! Love you guys!

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  3. Hi Sally, so, just like your other blog I'm stalking this one and I have to thank you for this post.
    I know we weren't super close while we were in Seattle, but I remember hanging out with you at the dinners they did at the Institute building.
    I remembering being in Seattle all happy visiting for the summer and stopping by Em's and she was crying and we learned about Claire. I couldn't believe it,I knew what having a baby meant to you and D and it all seemed so unreal.
    I read every post but I felt silly leaving a comment because I thought "we didn't really know each other that well" or "these people writing to them really know them" or something else silly.
    I enjoyed the times I wrote and always wondered if I should keep leaving a note. This post is so helpful, so thank you. I enjoy this blog and I want you to know you guys were always in our prayers and I will always be grateful for your example.
    You have shown so much faith and when times have been difficult for me, I read your blog and realized that I can choose the way I see my trials and how get through the tough times.
    Thank you and know that I'll be stalking you again :-)

    1. Belky! We were totally friends! Don't you remember that I was your visiting teacher with Jen Pollard? :) Good times! Thanks for the note and the prayers. I loved hearing from you.

  4. What a great list! I have such a strong desire to help others, but often have no idea where to begin.

  5. Thanks Sally!!!
    I do remember your visits, that is one thing I miss dearly about living here, no VT or HT.
    I guess I never felt like one of the cool kids. Either way Thanks!!! great list.