Clients ask me all the time how they can best support their friends and loved ones when they are struggling. Often times, people feel very out of control and useless when someone in their life is in pain and they don’t know how they can help. Often times, it feels like we can’t do anything to help so we just don’t do anything. Doing nothing is about the worst thing we can do. “Giving space” by ignoring, pretending that our best friend isn’t in pain or avoiding the topic or the loved one all together might be easier, but it’s not supportive.
Here are a few ideas of how we can support someone through something difficult.
-Check in with them. Simply ask them how they are doing.
-Reminding them that we are here for them. Sometimes we may ask someone how they are and they say “fine” or even say “I don’t want to talk about it.” That’s really them saying they aren’t ready. That’s okay. Just let them know you are here if they ever want to talk or need a friend. The offer is often enough to let someone know they aren’t alone.
-Be there. Sometimes that means we show up at our best friend’s house and hold them while they cry. Sometimes that means we make sure we answer their calls more often and sometimes that means you join them in doing something fun that will get their mind off their shitty ex boyfriend. Being accessible is a great gift.
-Just listen. Don’t claim to know how they are feeling. Don’t one up them with a story of your own heartache or tragedy. Just listen. Nod your head. Tell them you are so sorry they are going through this.
-Lastly, remember that you can support someone without soaking up all their emotions like a sponge. You can be loving, caring and empathetic while maintaining your own boundaries too.
Much love. Hold your loved ones tight.