How to Support a Friend Through Any Hardship
Your best friends have been there through pretty much everything: the wonderful stuff, the weird stuff, and the really, really hard stuff. When your bestie is in crisis, finding a way to help them through it can feel scary and daunting. Whether the person you care about is getting over a breakup, grieving a death, or struggling with another tough time, crisis clinician Angela Tennyson has some tips on how to be there for your BFF.
1. Be selfless. “Meet your friend where they are, and do not try to push them into your own agenda,” Tennyson instructs. “Allow them to open up with their processing in their time.” This means resisting the urge to relate their feelings or circumstances back to things you’ve experienced; when you focus only on your friend and their feelings, you’ll help them by validating their experience.
2. Give them grace. One of the most important things you can do for a friend going through a crisis is to give them a safe, nonjudgmental space to process their emotions. This means refraining from using statements such as, “You’ll get over this soon” — especially since there is no time limit to grief. “A kind touch, a nod of understanding, or even a soft Kleenex allows your friend to know it’s perfectly normal to cry as much as needed,” shares Tennyson.
3. Let them know you’ll be there. Simply being present makes all the difference in times of crisis. No matter what your friend is going through, demonstrating to them that you will show up for them means that they will never have to experience anything alone. When you can’t be there, Tennyson recommends collaborating with other supporters to ensure your friend will always have someone by their side.
4. Be patient with their recovery. “What might take you a short time to recover from and go back to your norm may take your friend much longer,” Tennyson reminds. Since, as we mentioned, there isn’t a universal timeline for grief, be patient as your friend takes whatever time they need to recover. If necessary, Tennyson recommends helping your friend find professional help to aid in your absence.
5. Take care of yourself too. Watching someone you love go through something terrible isn’t easy. During this hard time, Tennyson implores you to keep tabs on your own mental health as well. “Being a good supportive friend does not mean you have to take on your friend’s pain by vicariously living through them,” she cautions. “Keeping in mind your own self-care and detachment will allow you to be the best supportive friend you can be.”
What things do you do to help a friend in crisis? Let us know @BritandCo.
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