Everyone goes through some rough times in life, and it can be very difficult to see your loved ones deal with grief, with divorces, with being made redundant, and with illness. There are some things you can do to help out – here are some tips.
If your friend or loved one is hurting, the most important thing to do is simply be there. A lot of people find that their friends and family are surprisingly unhelpful in difficult times – and a big reason for that is that a lot of the time, people simply don’t know what to say, so they end up avoiding them instead. And it is definitely hard to know how to respond to hearing about the news of a bereavement or a marriage split. If you aren’t sure what to say, it’s okay to say exactly that – that you wish you knew what to say to help but that you love them and that you’ll help out any way that you possibly can. Knowing that they have people they can lean on will help your loved one immeasurably.
Be Careful With Your Advice
Remember that if someone’s going through a rough time, they don’t necessarily want to listen to any advice – they’ll have their own ideas on what they’re planning to do to handle things and they won’t want to hear the experiences of people who haven’t been through the same thing. If you’ve dealt with something similar and they’re asking for advice on which divorce attorneys they should choose, or how to deal with their kids being with their ex every other weekend, then you could offer some tips on what you did in the same situation. Unsolicited tips that you don’t know much about might not be met with a very warm response.
Cut Them Some Slack
Remember that everyone deals with difficult situations in different ways. If your friend’s reacting to being made redundant by going out every night and drinking until 4 AM instead of looking for a new job, then you could definitely step in and tell them that maybe they aren’t making the healthiest choices. But if you don’t think they’re being brave enough, or that they’re talking about their situation too much, then cut them some slack. Listen instead of judging, and give them time to heal.
Offer Practical Help
When crises occur, a lot of people say ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’, and then they proceed to do absolutely nothing because they’re too busy waiting around to be instructed to do something specific. But if someone’s life has turned upside down then the last thing they’ll be thinking of is assigning different jobs to different friends. Instead, take it upon yourself to go over and deliver some frozen dinners, or to do some laundry, or to tell them specific times that you can do some babysitting. Using your initiative to offer thoughtful things to do will be appreciated hugely – your time is one of the biggest kindnesses that you can offer someone.