Life is never easy, but sometimes, we have to navigate or negotiate challenges that are particularly difficult. When times get tough, having family and friends to call upon can make all the difference. If you have close friends or relatives trying to cope with heartbreak, grief, addiction or illness, here are some tips to help you support them as best you can.
Talk but don’t push
One of the most beneficial steps you can take as a concerned friend or family member is to reach out to the individual and talk to them. Some people are reluctant to take that first step because they don’t want to burden their loved ones. If you make the first move, this may encourage them to open up and start talking about how they feel. It’s important to tread carefully and to be gentle. You want to urge the other person to chat with you, but you don’t want them to feel like you’re putting pressure on them. Don’t push too hard.
Help them to get help
There are organizations, individuals and groups out there that provide help for all kinds of difficulties and challenges, but often, reaching out is the hardest thing to do. As a close friend or a family member, make it your mission to help your loved one get the help they need. This may mean seeking advice or exploring treatment options to get prescription abuse help, searching for organizations that specialize in helping people who have been abused or neglected, or finding groups that offer support for bereavement or dealing with terminal illness. Research, seek advice from medical professionals and look for online groups or support systems that will enable your friend or relative to connect with others who have been in the same situation.
When a friend is going through a tough time, it can be difficult to find a balance between helping them and making them feel like you’re putting pressure on them or sticking your nose in. The key lies in ensuring that your loved one knows that you are there for them, whenever they may need you. It can take time for people to start talking, and they may need to build trust and confidence before they confide in you. Check in from time to time, but do it in a casual, informal way. You want to stress that you’re there without making the other person feel like they have to keep in constant contact with you.
Take a walk in their shoes
It’s very easy to make judgments and to assume that you understand what people are going through when you’re looking in from the outside. In reality, until you find yourself in the same situation, it’s impossible to know how somebody else is feeling and what kinds of struggles they are facing. It can be helpful to undertake research and to talk to experts about how you can help if you feel helpless or you want to be proactive in providing useful advice or reassurance.
We all go through tough times at points in our lives, and often, it’s our friends and family that help us to cope. If you want to help a loved one, take these steps to reassure, comfort and support them.