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Supporting Your Friends Through Tough Times

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A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.
- Walter Winchill

Being a friend during the good times is easy. It's a no brainer to go to the movies with your friend, to have dinner or drinks together or talk on the phone for hours - or as long as your kids will let you do so.

It's a little bit more difficult to be friends during the tough times. I'll never forget the time that my best friend miscarried. I held her hand while she cried, brought her dinner and dessert and found a book that remembered her pregnancy. She was touched, and told me that it was more than anyone else did for her. That shocked me - why wouldn't someone support their friend?

It can be tough to be there in times of difficulty. You have to reach beyond yourself, to go into a difficult place and many of us are uncomfortable with that. That's what a true friend is, though - someone who is there with you in times of good and times of bad - much like your spouse.

Do you have a friend who is going through a tough time?Job loss? divorce? Fertility issues? Difficulty with her teenagers? Do you want to be there but just don't quite know what to do? Here are some ways that you can be supportive to your friend:

  • Listen - Above all, be there to listen to your friend, without reservation and without judgement. Don't use this time to tell your friend what you would have done in her situation, or how you've handled a similar scenario. It's not a time for you. It's a time for you to support your friend. There's a big difference.
  • Be There - Does she need someone to talk to at 3 a.m.? That might not work for you- but maybe it does. Tell your friend that if she needs you, you are available at this time - and be there. Don't screen your calls, or fail to return messages, or ignore emails. If you say you'll be there, be there. That's often the most critical form of support a person needs - just your presence.
  • Show Support - Does she need a dinner brought to her? Would a nice card lift her spirits? Maybe flowers, or candy, or just an email to say I'm thinking of you! Who doesn't love to feel as if they are important to someone else, and often the tangible signs are gratefully appreciated.
  • Be Positive - Even if you've battled infertility or infidelity and your outcome hasn't been successful, that doesnt' necessarily hold true for your friend. Try, as much as you can, to keep things positive, or at least neutral, especially in cases of divorce. I know of at least three scenarios where I've heard of someone divorcing, I've been vocal in my distaste for her spouse - and they've gotten back together. Which left me with egg on my face each and every time.

What are some situations that you've been a source of support for your friend? How have you shown this support?

by on Aug. 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Replies (61-70):
by on Jan. 21, 2012 at 4:56 PM
I do my best. I try to listen when a friend needs someone or resources as needed.
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by on Jan. 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM

sometimes all you can do is listen...pray

by on Jan. 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM

if there is something i can actually do.. babysit or whatever...i will try to do to help

by on Jan. 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM

so true...sometimes someone gets sick or whatever happens and they are overwhelmed for a bit and need short term help to make it through

Quoting ecagle:

 I've been a lending ear, I've also helped with dinners, running errands, watching kids etc.  Sometimes people just need help!

by on Jan. 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I talk to them or more often listen  to them.  Just be therefor them.

by on Jan. 30, 2012 at 4:14 PM
The best way I know to show my support, is to listen, and hug :)
by on Mar. 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM

when a loved one has there for support...when a new baby is born im there to help out

by on Aug. 16, 2012 at 11:52 PM

It's individual.  It really depends on what they need.  Some need food brought to the house, others need their laundry done, or their kids watched while they go to the doctor.  Pay attention, see what needs to be done, then figure it out.  You'll know if they need someone to talk to, someone to be silent with, or what they need.  You're their friend or relative after all, you know the person well, you can read them...... that's why you are who you are.

You are a special person.  Don't forget to take care of yourself too.

by on Aug. 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM

 Just lending an ear so she can vent

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 3:53 AM
Great advice!
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