How to Support a Friend Through a Crisis

I don’t know what I would do without my girlfriends. They are my sounding boards, my cheerleaders, my car pool companions…basically they are my everything. And while these superwomen can handle whatever life throws at then, I never want them to go through a life crisis alone. 

Recently, one of my wonderful girlfriends went through a trying medical journey and I tried my best to be with her every step of the way. I am happy to report that she is now feeling well and that her positive spirit still radiates from her beautiful smile.

She recommended that I write this article (ironically on International Women’s Day) to give advice and suggestions of how to support a friend who is going through a crisis. While this list might not work for everyone, I hope these tips provide you with some ideas for how to support a friend, no matter what crisis she may face.

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Listen

When your friend is facing something as stressful and traumatic as a miscarriage, divorce, job loss, death, sickness, or other life emergency, the last thing they need is for you to compare your situations. STOP. Just S T O P. Block your mouth with your hand if you need to or suck on a lollipop. It is your job to listen. Sure, you can ask questions, but your main job is to LISTEN.

Check In Often

Many people don’t know what to say in a crisis. Maybe it’s because you have never been in the same situation or you are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I get it—when my Dad was dying so many people said thoughtless things to me that I can still remember almost ten years late. But the absolute WORST? Silence. It is deafening.

So what is okay to say? A simple “I’m thinking of you” takes hardly any effort on your part and means so incredibly much. So consistently send texts (I mean, you can even say “I don’t know what to say”—it’s perfectly acceptable), whether they are serious or silly. Even better? Call, drop off something (coffee,chocolates, flowers, wine…the options are endless), send some REAL snail mail, etc. Checking in to show that you are thinking of her is so easy to do and will mean so much.

Give Help

A common refrain I heard when my Dad died was “Let me know if you need anything.” Well, I didn’t have the strength to do basic daily tasks, let alone let them know how much pain I was in. So when your friend is going through a crisis, I encourage you to ACT. 

These actions don’t have to be huge gestures. Just things that you know (and hope) will help your friend. For example, setting up a meal train, dropping off meals (I’m telling you…food heals), taking over car pool duty, babysitting her kids, taking her to appointments, etc. Not only will you be taking tasks off of her to-do list, but you will also feel like you are actually helping. Spoiler alert: You ARE.

Help Find the Positive

Let’s face it. A crisis can be all consuming and make life seem dull and depressing. After some time has passed, try to help your friend see some positivity in the world. Whether it is taking a walk in the sunshine, watching a funny movie together, or treating yourselves to a day at the spa, help your friend find some joy (Living Social is a great way to find some discounted fun—talk about sparking joy!)

Here’s to the friendships that get us through the worst days and make the best days even more amazing.

I love you, my girlfriends. You know who you are. XO

Amanda

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Comments

  1. Crystal // Dreams, etc. says

    Checking in often is so helpful. I’d also say that in addition to looking for the positive, letting them experience/talk about how hard it is if they need to is helpful. Being able to talk about the stuff that’s hard and letting it be hard is so helpful and lets people release that instead of holding it inside.

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