Vignettes in Aging – Comfort
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Comfort is that thing – bed, chair, shawl, bunting, pet, book, photographs, sound, or food — that brings physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Speaking of comfort food, certain foods promise solace as much as they do fuel. But what’s not quite as clear is whether comfort food can actually deliver on that promise. Is that the feeling of being soothed, or just the onset of an ice cream sundae-induced food coma?

Comfort can be found in a person … the reassuring embrace of a parent, loved one, or friend. YOU can be a source of comfort to someone else by easing or alleviating a person’s feelings of grief or distress. What a wonderful gift that is. You can change tears to a smile. You can remind another of a bigger picture with more alternatives and opportunities. Listening is the key to providing support and compassion.

Comforting another provides reassurance that “I’m here. I can help you feel better.” We all need this kind of boost these days.

And yet, comfort can be tricky if we see it only coming from another. As elders, often alone, we need to perfect the skill of self-comforting – in the healthiest way possible. Food, cigarettes, drugs, sex, shopping, and endless mind-numbing hours on the Internet give only the illusion of comfort.

Listening acutely to what my body and soul needs to feel better — a comfort that will last beyond the moment — is what will work best. It can be soothing music, spending time in nature, or enlisting a trusted friend to listen to what’s on my mind. It can be a professional counselor to guide you out of dark times.

If you didn’t learn healthy comforting techniques growing up or by being a parent, there are lots of ways listed online. Be proactive, find one that works the best for you.