Sometimes our caregiving friends and family don’t have the energy or words to ask for help, even when they need it most. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life where we need someone to lean on, but what is a good way to help a friend in need?
We’ve pulled together seven ways to support someone you care about who is having a hard time.
In-person, on a call, in a text, or with a letter of encouragement. Do not ignore the situation if you care about them. If you don’t know what to say, don’t avoid them. Be present, stay attentive, and hear what they need to say. They often know what to do or have enough information, but they want someone to talk to and not feel alone.
Netflix marathon with delivery? Soup making to help them prep for the week?
I have a friend who lives 2,000 miles away who would schedule 1 hour a week to “watch” our favorite guilty pleasure on TV “together.” It meant the world and gave me something to look forward to. Sometimes we talked, and other times, we just watched the show. I am ever grateful for this act of companionship.
Make time, even if there isn’t much you can do to solve the problem. Offering to keep someone company or to hang out with them. Sometimes, silence is a good remedy, and knowing we are not alone is enough to help.
This is not about you.
It is about them and what they need to make sense of in their head, heart, and soul. Even if the situation is difficult to grasp or if you don’t agree with the person’s point of view or opinion. Let them lament, grrrr - rage, complain or cry. Don’t rush them or invalidate or minimize their concerns. Honestly, listening is a gift of all its own.
Validating someone’s feelings is a solid first step. Listen. Let them be honest when life is hard. Let them be sad and confused. This is trust. People need to know what they feel is real and that they can move through it. Life can be messy, but validation is a beautiful thing.
It is easier to offer help than to ask for it. Say it out loud. You know it.
Many people prefer to avoid asking for help with meals, a ride, or free babysitting. It makes us feel vulnerable, scared, and like we don’t have a handle on our lives. We’d rather tough it out than ask for a hand.
Caregivers can feel like they are lost in the woods, and they don’t know the way out. Pay attention, offer to help, and try to be specific with what you can do. It’s OK. Just try.
Aside from help, words of comfort, and favors, a hug is a powerful gift. A hug can do the trick even when we have nothing to add and no advice to give.
Hug them if someone is comfortable and OK with touch (not everyone is). Your presence, acceptance, security, and breathing can help soothe the mind storm chaos and calm them so they can think.
“I’m thinking of you” or “I’m praying for you.” – Those are powerful words.
When running your errands, grab a thoughtful plant, card, or treat for them and give it to them. If they appreciate prayer, tell them you are praying for them and with them to relieve their suffering.
We each respond to different types of support. Think about who you are helping and how best they can receive that support. Let them know that you think of them often and are there for them in their time of need.
We always say this when people do not know what to say or do. Show up in some way.
Other ways to show support are with calls, texts, goofy memes, baking their favorite dish, or planning fun things together – taking a walk or watching a movie. Caregivers make lots of decisions for other people all the time. Plan something for them. It is a welcome surprise.
If they can’t leave the house, offer to cook for them or to clean their place. Whatta treat!
Do you recall the music from the TV hit show “Friends” by the Rembrandts? That song nails it for me. The song's gist is that this friend will be by your side as they've always been, no matter what. That is the heart of the care circle and why support matters.
Small acts of kindness make a big difference to someone in need.
This is the heart of CircleOf. You build your trusted circle with friends on the caregiving team for you and others. This circle is your nexus, together in a secure and private circle in your hand.
Invite relatives, friends, paid caregivers, and others who help with the daily care of your loved one or supports YOU.
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Stay together, connected, and care together.
More on setting up a care team in this article.
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