Is someone you know going through a hard time? These days, who isn’t?
Whether they’re grieving the loss of a loved one, dealing with a challenging breakup, or just in a seemingly endless rut, it’s important to be there to offer support. After all, you know they would do the same for you.
Although it might feel uncomfortable to reach out to someone unexpectedly, it’s one of the most helpful things you can do to show someone you’re there for them. Here are five ways to show you care when things are hard.
#1 Talk It Out
While you may be worried you’ll say the wrong thing, it’s better to try than say nothing at all. Let go of your fear and just reach out. Send a card, write a message, or give your loved one a call. No matter how you decide to reach out, your main job is to show your loved one support.
Remember not to compare your loved one’s loss to your own experiences. Similarly, avoid using empty platitudes and well-intentioned-but-ultimately misguided advice like “everything happens for a reason.” Instead, ask questions, be sincere, and let them guide the conversation.
#2 Send a Care Package
The gift itself won’t solve their problems but it can still feel good to receive a tangible reminder of someone’s love for you. Create a personalized bundle to cheer them up and provide comfort.
A care package might include:
- Bath salts – Grief can manifest physically, including stiff muscles. A long soak in a bath with therapeutic salts may be just what your loved one needs to relax and recharge.
- Flowers – Gifts like sympathy flowers are a lovely gesture to show you care. With so many blooms to choose from, you can select the perfect bouquet.
- Homemade treats – Bake some cookies or scones to tuck into your bundle. If it was made with love, they’ll feel it no matter the distance between you.
#3 Practice Listening
Try not to overwhelm your loved one with opinions and advice. The most helpful thing you can do is listen to their experiences. While you may feel the need to “solve” their problems, be patient with their grieving process—after all, it’s their grief, not yours.
When you talk to your loved one, practice active listening. Allow them space to process their grief. Additionally, it’s okay to sit in silence. Don’t feel the need to fill pauses or jump in when the conversation slows. Get comfortable just being there with them. Sometimes your presence is all they need.
#4 Offer to Do Practical Tasks
When you’re right in the thick of it, it’s hard to complete day-to-day tasks, no matter how easy they might be. A great way to show up for a loved one is to offer help with errands and to-dos.
Here are a few simple ways to pitch in:
- Cook dinner for them and deliver it to their home
- Pick up dry-cleaning or prescriptions
- Clean their house
- Offer childcare support or pick the kids up from school
- Drive your loved one to a support group or therapy
#5 Validate Their Feelings
Grief is an emotional rollercoaster. It might manifest as sadness, anger, frustration, regret, and anything in between or beyond. The best thing you can do for your loved one is to validate their emotions.
It’s okay to feel what they’re feeling.
Emotions are cyclical, not linear, and it’s normal to experience varying levels of intensity as you deal with a difficult experience.
So, you’ve sent the gift basket, listened to them cry, and jumped in to pick up groceries or make them soup. Job well done, right? But hard times don’t just disappear in a puff of smoke. Check back in even when they seem to be back on their feet. Part of being there for them is continuing to show up even when life may seem “back to normal.”