Two weeks ago, I shared a post on how to reach out for help when you are overwhelmed. Today, I want to share how to help someone who is hurting. Have you ever heard the axiom..”just be there.” Sounds simple right, but when it’s your friend, family member, or acquaintance that is hurting it doesn’t feel simple. Instead it feels challenging to be there for them. You still want to be able to say the right thing or do the right thing for them. Or maybe your in pain yourself so it is hard to be present for them. Or maybe you’re that person that wants to be helpful but to sit still with someone while they are in pain is more than you can do.
Here are some things to think about when someone in your life is hurting.
1)Go to them before you think about: If you are like me it is easy to over-analyze visiting a friend when they are hurting. Then once you start over-analyzing you start thinking too much about it and then it seems like there is no right time, right way, or right way to be. And you end up talking yourself out of it. So go..don’t think..just go. Because what they say is true. If you are present they will feel your care, comfort, and support.
2)Tell them your sorry…don’t do anything to try to solve their problem…just say you are sorry: We often want to say something that will make our loved one feel better or change their situation. We want to throw out a verse or quote or statement about how the future will be better. But often when they are really hurting what they need to know first is that you are sorry and feeling their pain with them. They need you to let them cry or vent or just be. So say you are sorry and then stop talking. And they will know that you care.
3)Once you have been with that person and let them know you are there for them, offer to do something specific: I think the tendency is to tell someone, “let me know if there is something I can do for you.” We feel like we have done our part if we do that. However, the fact is that often the other person is too overwhelmed to come up with a job for us to do or they feel bad asking. It is often better to offer something specific. It takes some of the work away from the hurting person and may give them something that they never realized they needed. Some possible things you can give them are:
-meals or coordinating a meal sign-up
-childcare or coordinating a childcare sign-up
-cleaning or running errands for them
-fielding phone calls, texts, or a care page about the situation
-taking care of the updates they need to send out to let others know what is going on
-sitting with them in the hospital or a difficult meeting or appointment
-inviting them to dinner
-giving them money or a gift card- hard times often mean more bills and expenses.
4)Be there and Be there and Be there: At times, when someone is going through a hard time they will have a serge of people that are willing to be there and help them. And then slowly but surely people kind of get back to their own lives and forget that for that person suffering is part of the new “normal.” They need care and support for much longer then we often give them credit for. So keep being there even after you feel normal again. Keep being there!
Take these tools to heart when trying to help someone who is hurting. If you want more information or ideas to help check out the book, Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart.