Is there someone in your life that is going through a difficult time? Maybe it is a friend who lost a loved one or is going through a divorce. Perhaps your sister is nursing a broken heart., or is battling a serious illness. Whatever the situation, you want to be there for the person, but you may feel a bit lost as to the best way to offer your support.
Here are just a few tips to help someone through a difficult time:
Don’t Ask if There is Anything You Can Do, Make Concrete Suggestions
Whenever someone is having a difficult time, we have a tendency to ask if there is anything we can do for them. We say this with the best intentions, and most of us really mean it. But, what we don’t realize is this question may be placing an additional burden on the person, who is then tasked with having to ask people to do things for her. Most people are not comfortable asking for help, as much as they may want or need it.
If you really want to help, make concrete suggestions about things you will take care of, whether it is making some food, picking the kids up from school that week or driving the person to their doctor’s appointments. This way, you’ll get to fulfill your desire to help and the person does not have to ask for it, but simply accept your kindness.
Just Be Willing to Listen
When someone is having a difficult time, we may feel a bit of anxiety about talking to the person because we are not sure what to say. What words of comfort can you offer someone whose marriage just ended and fears a future alone, just lost her beloved parent or has just been diagnosed with a serious illness? And, this discomfort may sometimes lead to avoiding the person, and this is the last thing she needs.
Don’t worry about offering sage wisdom or having to say something that makes the person feel better. She knows you don’t have all the answers, nor is she expecting you to make her feel better. Ultimately, people feel the need to express what is swimming around in their heads, and just want someone to listen. That is all you need to worry about doing. This simple act can do wonders.
Random Acts of Kindness Can Go a Long Way
Knowing people care about our well-being goes a long way in dealing with difficult times. Little random acts of kindness or gestures that let you know you are thinking about the person is a great way to boost someone’s spirits. Buy a little gift that you think the person would like, like a book. Check out some funny ecards and shoot over an email to give them a nice, unexpected laugh in the middle of the day. Show up unexpected offering baby sitting services so she can head out for a few hours of alone time.
Be a Source of Positivity But Let the Person Feel their Feelings and Speak Their Mind
Telling people things will get better, they will be okay, pointing out the positives of a situation, and the like are certainly helpful. Helping someone adopt a more positive perspective, and make them feel like things will get better is part and parcel of assisting people in times of difficulty. But, in our effort to make the person feel better, we can sometimes unintentionally diminish her feelings, and make it seem like she should not be as upset as she is. Make sure you let the person express whatever it is he is feeling-let him be upset and feel the fear, anger and whatever else is going on inside. Not feeling heard, or being made to feel like they cannot fully express their truth in this moment will only make people feel worse.