There are highs and lows to everyone’s life story and part of friendship is supporting each other in both the highs and the lows. A friend is not a lifeline in a hard time, but a friend does play a significant role in during a hard time. As a friend, you have a unique perspective of your friend’s situation and you have the ability to support and console a friend going through hard times. Understand how you can be a supportive friend during hard times.
The most important part of being a supportive friend is to listen. A lot of times, someone just needs a listening ear to talk to during a hard time. It’s important to know that listening does not mean that you need to respond with advice or answers. Instead, ask questions. You know your friend. If your friend works through situations by talking out their feelings, then be that friend who will listen. Know that this information they are telling you is most likely personal so it’s probably best to keep the conversation to yourself. The first step to listening is to let your friend know that you are available to listen to them. Understand that your friend may not want to talk to you about their feelings and that is okay! If they say that they don’t want to talk, exercise your listening skills by not forcing them to talk.
It’s Not All Up To You
Although your friend is going through hard times, it’s not your job to get them out of the hard time. A lot of times, friends will put them pressure on themselves to pull someone out of a hard time. This is way too much pressure and frankly not a friend’s job. To truly overcome hard times, one must pull themselves up. As a friend, your job is to support and stick with them. A friend is not the savior, but rather the emotional support dog. Stay near to your friend. And if your friend asks you for space, give it to them. Space does not mean forgetting your friend. Space actually means that you give your friend room to ‘be’. You are in the room next door ready whenever they need you. Your job is to support not to fix.
Ask Them What They Need Of You
Don’t mistake this point with the phrase “Let me know if you need anything”. That phrase always comes from good-natured people, but not a true friend. That phrase means that it’s their job to seek you for help, and that rarely happens. Instead, ask them “How can I be the best friend that you need me to be right now?”. This requires their directions for you to be a good friend to them. They may respond with: “Can we go on a walk?” “I need some space right now.” “Can you come over?” You give your friend a chance to let you know their expectations of you as a friend by also letting them know that you care.
Give Them Grace
It’s hard to focus on others when you are trying to focus and mend yourself. Understand that they may not be able to be the friend they usually are for you. Give your friend grace if they can’t hang out or they can’t invest in you at the moment. They need to heal themselves before they can invest their time in other people. Sometimes friends put pressure on themselves to try to make you happy or feel bad that they are disappointing you as a friend. If you suspect that this is the case, let them know that you want them to focus on themselves before you. Send them a support text saying how awesome they are. Send them a letter in the mail. Start these notes by saying “I want to send you this to tell you I support you and to make you smile. Please do not respond to it!” Let them know that you genuinely don’t want a response. This takes the pressure off of them to respond, but you can still send your support.
If you suspect that your friend is putting themselves in danger or is in danger, it is your job as a friend to take action to get them immediate help. This is usually a very tough decision because you want to help your friend, but also don’t want to lose their trust. In the long run, it is always best to get your friend help if you suspect they are in danger. They may feel betrayed in the moment, but you are being a caring friend in the long run. If you learn of your friend in danger, it is your duty as a friend to contact help for your friend. When you are making this decision, ask yourself “what is best for my friend?” rather than, “what will my friend think of me?”. You can even give your friend the resources available to get help themselves. If they reject it, it might be time to take action yourself. Explain to your friend why you are taking action. Give their response grace. Taking action is an act of love. Seeking help is an act of love.
Stick With Them
A true friend stays near during the highs and the lows. Know that all friendships and relationships ride the waves of highs and lows. As you give your friend grace and kindness, this also sets a president of how you hope they treat you when you are going through a hard time. Communicate. Don’t give up on them. Give them grace. Remind them why you stick around as their friend. Each situation is different and you may need to read the situation before acting. When you’re friend is going through a hard time, take a little bit more time to think before you speak and to think before you act. Be genuine. Be humble.
Being a friend to someone who is going through a hard time can be difficult, but it is also so important. Let us know ways you support your friend during hard times. Share your experiences in the comments.
Featured image source: https://weheartit.com/entry/266811364
Julia grew up in a town just outside of Chicago. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major at Rhodes College. Julia prefers to spend her days outside writing stories for others to find joy in. Other than story-telling, you will find Julia running on her college track and field team and traveling the world.