A “Verbal” Hug… Wait, what?

Published on April 21, 2020

If there’s one thing I miss more than anything with our current state of affairs is a hardy handshake from a friend or the warm embrace from a special person in my life. I checked on my aging parents recently and as we stood outside, a car length apart, my father opened his arms and said, “Here’s a virtual hug for you!” Although thoughtful, and a common practice right now, it just wasn’t the same.

So what exactly is a hug? In simplest of terms, it is a way of expressing affection through a physical embrace. We know how to verbally express affection but what might one say that would actually be a reasonable stand in for a hug? On one of my many (many) zoom calls recently, a friend in Boston shared something with our attendees that I found profound. At the begging of this virtual meeting, he shared a “verbal hug.” He took a deep breath, paused and then gently, softly and slowly said, “I’m glad I’m here.” After another breath and short pause he continued by saying, “I’m glad you’re here” and after one last breath and a graceful pause, he ended with “and I’m SO happy we’re together!”

Wow! Those three short statements said with genuine emotion and care just felt so good. It left me feeling warm and cared for. I really needed that right then. Being in isolation is not something many people are comfortable with. Mental health is a great concern right now. I’m trying to help combat this in small ways by being more meaningful in the ways I am connecting with those who are important to me. I urge you to try out this “verbal hug” technique at a time that feels right to you. Make a person smile and feel cared for through a “verbal embrace.”

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