How to Be There

LadiesWalkingHave you ever wondered how to be there for someone who is hurting? Maybe a close friend has been diagnosed with cancer, or she’s devastated over having lost a partner or a child. The thought of stepping in might be scary. You may think you’re not qualified, or that you can make it worse. Rest easy. There are ways to show your friend that you care. The trick is to remember there is really nothing to do.

Here’s how to get started…

– Relax.
– Be yourself.
– Let your friend be herself, even if it’s different than usual.
– Pay attention. Follow her lead.
– Be honest. If you’re nervous, you can say so.
– If you can’t imagine how she feels, tell her that.
– Take a breath. Pauses are great.
– Listen. Then, listen some more.
– Fight the urge to offer solutions or logical explanations.
– There is no need to fix anything.
– Allow her to vent, cry, complain, ask questions.
– It’s OK if you don’t have answers. “I don’t know” can be comforting – like you’re in this together.

Change affects each of us differently. There is no “right” way to recover, and no “normal” amount of time to adjust. Sometimes, as a friend, the hardest thing to do is to do nothing at all. But if you can remember to be there, you’ll be doing more than you know.

Read a patient’s perspective on having people show up here

Have you been in a similar situation? What have you found to be helpful? Leave a reply below…

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