Watching friends go through tough times can be heart-wrenching. Oftentimes, you want to be there and help them through those difficult situations but don’t know how. Or maybe in those difficult moments, you’re scared of saying something that might plunge them into more hopelessness.
If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, you’re not alone. To help you, we’ve outlined how to support a friend going through a difficult time. Let’s dig in!
8 Ways to Support a Friend Through a Difficult Time
1. Constantly Reach Out
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The easiest way to support a friend going through a difficult time is by constantly reaching out to them. People going through hard times tend to isolate themselves. This could be because they’re embarrassed or feel misunderstood. Or they wish to avoid situations that would worsen what they’re going through.
When your friends start to cancel on dates, prefer to be alone, or seem withdrawn, you should reach out and continue to do so till they feel better. Don’t take my word for it? A 2022 study found that people appreciate it when friends reach out to know how they’re doing. Essentially, when you keep in touch with friends, you’re communicating your love when you call, text, or visit them.
However, be careful not to stifle them. People process hurt differently. So, isolating themselves periodically might work for them for a while. To be on the safe side, if they say they want to be alone, let them know you’re only a call away if they need you. Give them some time before reaching out again.
Also Read: How to Mend A Broken Friendship In 10 Steps
2. Listen to Them Attentively
When your friends are going through a difficult time, attentively listen to them. They’ll appreciate a listening ear rather than empty words.
Also, don’t feel pressured to give an opinion. Allow your friends to speak with no interruptions. Ask follow-up questions that would urge them to confide in you.
3. No Judging
Judging your friends during a difficult time will make their situation worse. Unsolicited opinions often sound like criticism or judgment. Avoid giving one. More so, we unconsciously project our fears and insecurities onto others when we judge them. Doing this will cause your friend to become distant and disconnect from you.
When your friend starts to discuss their problem, avoid giving your opinion unless they ask for it. Rather than say: “You shouldn’t have done that, do this,” say “I can understand why you did that. Have you tried doing this?”
4. Understand Their Situation and Show Empathy
How to support a friend going through a difficult time is by understanding their situation and showing empathy. If they’re worried or afraid, validate their feelings and be kind with your words. For instance, don’t say “at least you can conceive” when they’re dealing with a miscarriage. Or say “be grateful it’s not cancer” when they’re worried about a diagnosis. Also, watch your body language and tone when responding to their concerns.
5. Reassure and Encourage Them
One of the importance of friendship is to support a friend going through a difficult time. This support can also be by reassuring and encouraging them, especially during trying times.
Let them know they’re not alone and would get over whatever they’re going through. However, don’t be unrealistic when reassuring or encouraging your friends. Rather than say “everything will work itself out” when they’re going through a health challenge, say “we’ll find help together and work towards making everything okay.”
6. Avoid Overused Phrases or Advice
Phrases like “all will be well” or “you’ll get through this” are overused. These phrases or advice might sound good but are not always helpful.
Your friends are worried and overwhelmed by what they’re going through. When they ask for your opinion, they need helpful phrases or advice. So instead of saying “all will be well,” say things like “you’ll get through this. Let’s start by trying these available options.”
7. Show Willingness to Help
“How can I help?” This simple sentence conveys lots of support and care. It’s a good way to support a friend going through a difficult time without assuming you know what’s best for them.
By asking your friends how they would like you to support them, you show that you’re willing to help. Also, you never know what might comfort them. Finding out what they need to get out of their situation is better than offering what might not help them.
8. Know When to Give Them Some Space
As mentioned earlier, most times, people need space because it helps them gain clarity on how to handle their problems or emotions. How to support a friend going through a difficult time can be by giving them some alone time. This should come after you’ve spoken to them.
However, ask them outright when you’re uncertain they need space. If you’re worried they might hurt themselves during this alone time, reach out to her family so they can arrange for someone to stay close.
What to Say to a Friend Who’s Going Through a Hard Time
Saying the right words is very important if you want to support a friend going through a difficult time. Your words can uplift or demoralize them. If you don’t have the right words, here are 10 things you can say to a friend who’s going through a hard time.
- “Thank you for always taking care of everyone. It’s time you also take care of yourself because we’ll all feel better once we’re certain you’re okay.”
- “Remember when you [rendered an act of kindness]. You’re the bravest person I know but I’d like to help you get through this because you’re always there for me too.”
- “I hate seeing you in pain. How can I help?”
- “I understand why you would feel the way you do right now, and I strongly believe you’ll be okay. I’d love to call, text, and help you in any way through this difficult time if you let me.”
- “I’m proud of how you’re handling this situation. While trying out [the solution your friend suggested], can we also get help from [your suggestion]?”
- “You need a shoulder to rest on right now, and I’m always here to help you get through this. You’ll be fine.”
- “I love you and want you to know that it is okay for even the strongest person to seek help or accept it when offered.”
- “I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through right now but I know you need all the love and support you can get. I’m here to give you both, you’ll get through this.”
- “I’m sorry this happened to you. How can I help you get through it?”
- “I’m here for you anytime you need me.”
Remember, one of the perks of having friends as an adult is the support they provide. With the 8 tips listed above, you don’t have to be scared to fulfill your duty as a friend.
This is because simple actions like reaching out, listening attentively without judging, and reassurances can go a long way when you want to support a friend going through a difficult time. Also, say the right words and offer help where necessary.
Is your friend going through a tough time? Read this article to know how to support a friend going through a difficult time.