Life is full of ups and downs. It can be especially tough to see a loved one going through a difficult time. Whatever the reason for their distress, it can be difficult to know how to help. Here are some ways you can make a difference without overstepping boundaries or giving them the space to cope with their feelings.
Communication is key
When a person is going through a particularly tough time, there will be a lot going on beneath the surface; things that perhaps you won’t necessarily be able to see. With this in mind, don’t assume that you know what’s best for your friend. Take the time to discover what they need and simply ask how you can help. Whether they ask for a favour or just for a person to talk to, you will be prioritising their needs and providing the support they need.
After checking in with them, listen without judgement to what they have to say. Listen carefully, avoid interrupting them and offer your opinion if they ask for it. Ask leading questions that will help them unravel why they are feeling a certain way.
Finally, show empathy to their situation so they know that they’re not alone. Phrases like ‘I can imagine how tough it might be’ validate their feelings.
Kind gestures go a long way
Offer to make their life easier during this difficult time. A few nice and easy things you can do for them include offering to babysit if they have children, cooking them a meal, baking something delicious or bringing a movie round for you both to enjoy. Bring an extra treat with you, like a chocolate gift to tuck into after dinner or during the movie.
Distraction is also a great way to help them overcome pain. However, make sure to judge their situation carefully and don’t plan anything too ambitious; this can prove more harmful than good. Simply spending quality time is good enough. Perhaps you could start working out together, attend a fun event or even go on a mini vacation.
Patience is a virtue
It’s not uncommon to feel disconnected from a loved one when they’re going through a difficult time. If your friendship was previously spent having fun, such a phase can prove challenging. However, to be a good friend at this time means giving your friend the space to feel certain emotions, having more quiet dinners at home and supporting them for however long they need.
Such times often strengthen a friendship, so be patient with your friend. They will undoubtedly treat you with the same love and care whenever you are enduring hardship.