When someone you care about is having a hard time, it can be difficult to know how to help them. Instead of just hanging around them because you don't know what else to do, you can channel your energy into helping your friend in a number of useful ways. Of course, we're not all super heroines or knights in shining armor that can immediately save the day with our laser eye vision or sword skills, but there are little things we can do that would mean a lot to a friend in need.
Life can be rough. It can sometimes seem grossly unfair, especially when life picks on someone for no reason, or hands out a series of unfortunate events, one after the other, to the same person. Your friend may be suffering with a mental illness, they may have just had the worst breakup you've ever heard of, or they may need someone to lean on during the process of having an abortion.
Everyone is different, so we all look at life from our own individual perspectives. Just because you may be emotionally stronger than your friend, or you've suffered more sadness and hardship than them, doesn't mean they aren't going through a rough patch. So whatever you do, don't diminish their perception on their life's recent events or dismiss their problems as small. Be there for your friend and hopefully if the time comes, they will repay the favor.
1. Ask Them What They Need
You may be so busy trying to take care of your friend that you forget to ask them what they actually need. They might need space or some alone time, so your constant fussing around them may be making the whole situation worse. Be clear and direct and ask them specifically what you can do to help them during this difficult time.
2. Give Them Some Time Off
Give your friend some much needed time off so he/she can process their emotions. This might include babysitting for them, putting your joint project on hold or taking the reigns yourself, or not being bummed out when they decline your invite for the 100th time. They're going to need some breathing space.
3. Don’t Focus On Your Successes
The last thing your friend is going to want to hear when their world is falling apart is how well your career, love life, or startup is going. Sure, they'll be happy for you when they're back to their normal self, but right now, they may be feeling a little insecure which might pull them even deeper into the depths of despair.
4. Be Their Shoulder To Cry On
Be the rock that your friend can lean in on in this dark time. Be one of the few people — or maybe the only person — they can feel completely at ease with and let them know they don't need to hold anything in. Sometimes just being there for someone when they need a hug is the best thing you can do.
5. Be Patient With Them
You can't speed up the healing process. You might think six months is ample time to get over an ex, but that may feel like the tip of the iceberg for your friend. So don't rush your friend, let them take all the time they need to recover.
6. Don’t Burden Them With Your Problems
Your friend probably wants to be distracted by hearing about everything that's going on with you, but maybe leave out the more burdensome aspects. Your friend has a lot on their plate right now, they don't need to add worrying about you and your issues onto their huge mound. If you're in need of some advice, consider asking a different friend or family member.
7. Move In With Them For A While
If your friend has had some devastating news or they are really struggling with life at the moment — and they have no close family to turn to — offer to move in with them for a while until they are back on their feet. Do their chores, cook their meals, and generally be there for them. Having someone take care of you when you're sick or sad is just the best, so they're sure to seriously appreciate your kindness when they're back to their normal self again.
If all else fails, turn up at their doorstep and serenade them with the Friends theme tune. They're sure to get the message pretty quick!