When a loved one (friend or family) is going through a hard time, here’s how to support and help a friend in need.
As humans, by design, when something is not right, we go straight into fix it mode. How can we fix it and what’s the best way to fix it? But often things are not broken and can’t be fixed. So, how then do you help a friend in need?
It sounds harsh, but often the best way to support someone is to let them deal with the pain. And if you think saying things like, ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘at least they aren’t in pain anymore’ aren’t the best things to say to help someone deal with the pain.
The grief developed from loss is a journey, if you can call it that. An emotional journey that is. And no matter how many times you go through it, and no matter how different the emotions are for different reasons, depending on the relationship had with the person no longer here, the only way to get through the pain, is actually get through it.
Of course, I am specifically referring to situations where a loved one has moved onto their next life and is no longer here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help a friend in need if they going through something very challenging in their life, like dealing with a sickness, or financial troubles, a divorce or bad pregnancy.
All in all, pain is pain after all, and so the same concept of how to help a friend in need really covers you in all aspects.
It can be hard to know what to say or what to do for a friend in need when they are going through something. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is just be there and make sure they are okay, without asking them are they okay.
Here are my tips on what to do, say and how to be there for someone close to you dealing with pain, grief, sadness, or any hard life circumstances right now:
Don’t give advice:
The worst thing you can do is try to give advice to someone going through something very serious. Most of the time when someone is sharing their story with you, they aren’t actually asking for advice, they are just wanting to talk through their issues and feelings with you.
Though the temptation can be hard, when they turn and look at you and say ‘what do you think’ to answer, don’t. The best answer to give is ‘I really don’t know. I can’t make that decision for you. Everyone is different. If it was me, I might do (this), but again, I actually don’t know what my decision would be, as I am not in that situation’. This shows that you are listening to the situation, acknowledging the issue, but aren’t there to tell your loved one what to do either.
Keep questions simple:
If you really want to ask a question and you’re unsure how to ask, or what to ask to check in on your loved one, you can try these humbling questions, designed to make answers a little less challenging to answer: ‘Would you like to talk’, or ‘if you need to talk you let me know’, how do you feel today’, ‘do you need anything’, ‘how can I help’.
Stay away from questions and statements like: ‘Try and stay positive’, ‘you’re so strong you will get through this’, or ‘all things happen for a reason’. These types of questions and statements can make someone feel like their issue is not worth dwelling on.
Here are some life-changing ways you can support your friend in need – they seem small, but trust me they will mean the world:
- If you’re out shopping, call them and ask if they need you pick up anything for them.
- If they have plants, or a garden, offer to come around and help tend to the planet together.
- Don’t ask to make them dinner, just make it and pop over – don’t forget the wine (if appropriate).
- Ask them if they have any upcoming appointments that they’d like you to accompany them to, or even drive them to.
- Let them know you close by and water to drop in for a tea or coffee if they feel like company. Then when you get there, ask them if they need hep with any house chores, like washing, vacuuming, anything to reduce the stress of them having to deal with chores.
The main thing to remember when helping a friend in need (or any loved one for sure) is that the emotions they are going through comes in waves and can vary from day to day, so be prepared for them to say no and turn you away without being offended.
But if you know them well enough that they are only say no as they feel they are a burden, then you know what to do. Don’t take no for an answer, sit down with them, hit the on button for Netflix and chose movie that will make them forget about their pain, even just for a little while.