Many people go through life without ever experiencing a major loss. But it can happen at any time, and often does – the death of a loved one, an illness or injury that changes your life dramatically, losing your job or home. Whatever the cause of such upheaval in your life, you’re bound to feel as if you’re drowning in pain and confusion. And even though it’s hard to imagine now, there will come a day when those feelings start to ease up just enough for you to see some light again.
Each person who has gone through this type of hardship knows what others need most: someone who understands their grief and is ready with empathy and love; someone who has been there before so they don’t have to bear everything alone; someone to offer a hug, a listening ear, and practical advice when needed.
Here are 15 How To Support Friend Who’s Struggling
Send them positive thoughts
When all your friend can think about are the negative aspects of their situation, try sending them positive thoughts. Maybe they aren’t allowed to get a job while they’re sick, but if you remind them that their time off is an opportunity to rest and recuperate instead of working long hours, it might lift their spirits. You could also tell them how much people care about them or even offer words of encouragement from famous quotes – whatever it takes to make them feel better.
Don’t offer empty platitudes
As tempting as it is to say something like “God only gives us what we can handle” or “You’ll get through this,” those words aren’t always helpful because they make the person struggling feel powerless. Instead of speaking words of resignation, speak words of encouragement by letting them know how much faith you have in them and their ability to get through even the most terrible of times.
Show them they’re not alone in their struggle
Studies have found that people who feel isolated in their pain are more likely to relapse into suicidal thinking, making it important for your friend to know that you’re there with them in this difficult time. Whether or not you agree with this line of thinking, make sure your friend knows you’ll be by their side throughout every step of the recovery process.
Offer practical support
You can’t take away all their problems by any means, but there are always small things that make a difference: offering to run errands or pick up groceries, walking the dog or watching their children if they need to go somewhere alone, cooking them a nutritious meal and dropping it off without saying anything (or with a cheerful “How’re you feeling today?”). The more time and energy you spend helping them out in even the smallest ways, the more likely they will feel able to lean on you when they need it.
Connect them with helpful resources
If your friend is seeking help but doesn’t know where to start, do some research on their behalf and connect them with relevant articles, websites, helplines or support groups. The Internet is a great resource for finding information on just about any topic these days – and there are usually people online who are more than happy to offer advice and support.
Never dismiss their feelings
No matter how tired your friend is of their situation or how many times they’ve told you it’s happened, don’t ever brush off their struggles by telling them things are “going to be okay”. If they feel miserable about what’s going on with them, giving them the impression that they shouldn’t is only going to make the whole situation worse.
Don’t become distant
Their problems might be preventing them from getting together the way they used to, but don’t feel like you should cut yourself off completely. If your friend decides to confide in you even though they know their issues are causing a strain on your friendship, it can help relieve some of that pressure just knowing that they trust you enough to share what’s going on with them.
Be patient, but firm
If your friend is constantly talking about how uncomfortable or unhappy they are with their current situation, do everything you can to make them see the light again – but don’t go overboard either. Pushing too hard may cause them to withdraw even further into themselves and take away the little hope they have left. So simply remind them of all the positive things they have in their life and slowly guide them towards a better mindset.
Don’t make excuses
When your friend needs you most, they shouldn’t have to question whether or not you’ll be there for them – they should know you will without having to ask. Take responsibility for how much time you can dedicate to them and stick to it, even if it means taking a couple of days off from work or canceling plans with friends. If your friend knows that they come first, everything else will start falling into place naturally.
Stay emotionally available
If all else fails and your friend feels like no one cares about them anymore, remind them of how much you care by keeping yourself emotionally available at all times. Sometimes all they need is someone to talk to, and you should be that person. Listening without judgment or trying to give them a solution is often the best thing you can do for them.
Encourage them to seek professional help
If your friend is struggling and they feel like they’re at their wit’s end, encourage them to go see a mental health professional. It might be a difficult decision to make but it could very well be the best thing they ever do for themselves. A therapist will be able to offer unbiased advice and support that can help your friend get through their tough time.
Help them set boundaries
Your friend might be feeling overwhelmed by their current situation and as a result, might have a hard time saying no to people or things that are stressing them out. Help them set some personal boundaries so they can manage their time and energy more effectively. This could involve anything from declining an invitation to spending time with someone they don’t feel comfortable around.
Give them time to heal
Everyone deals with difficult times differently and your friend might need more time than others to heal and get back on their feet. Don’t rush them or expect them to be “back to normal” in a short period – that’s just not realistic. Be patient and continue to offer your support, even if they’re not yet ready to accept it.
Don’t judge them no matter what
No matter what your friend tells you or how much they reveal to you, don’t judge them. If they want to confide in you and tell you about the tough times they’re facing, understand that it’s because you mean a lot to them and trust that they wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t necessary. You might not always agree with their decisions or what has happened in their life, but that doesn’t make any of it your business – unless your friend asks for your opinion.
As hard as it might be to hear, your friend needs to know that they can get through this difficult time. Whether you’re the one helping them out or not, let them know that everything will be okay and that you’ll always be there for them throughout the entire process. This kind of encouragement may sound small compared to what’s happening in their life, but it could very well end up being exactly what they need to keep going.
Supporting a friend who is going through a difficult time can be challenging, but ultimately it’s worth it if you can help make them feel a little bit better. By following these tips, you’ll be in the best position to provide the support your friend needs and wants. Thank you for reading!