How do you support someone who is struggling?

November 25th, 2014 by admin in Death, Emotions, Grief, Support
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It’s so hard to witness a loved one’s pain. It’s so hard when someone you love is struggling. You might wish you could swoop in, ease their pain and make it better.

You might not know what do to and leave it up to them to tell you what would feel supportive.

One of the most common questions after someone famous (or someone you know) ends his life is, “Why didn’t he ask for help?” I see article after article, imploring people to ask for help when they are struggling. Yes! Yes! If you are able to, please ask for help. However, when people are really depressed or deep in their grief, they rarely have the energy or thought to reach out and ask for help.

I work with people who describe themselves as depressed and they often share how hard it is to do ANYTHING, the last thing they can do is ask a friend for help. When they are deep in their depression, they don’t even know what will feel supportive.

I know that when I’ve felt grief, there were times it didn’t even occur to me to pick up the phone. When you are grieving, your world is filled with that feeling, those memories, the heaviness and it can feel strange or impossible to reach out. It can feel unsettling that the rest of the world seems to keep spinning when your world has stopped.

And for those who love someone who is struggling, it can be confusing. Am I supposed to ask about their grief and talk about the person who is gone? Or cheer them up and take their mind off of it?

Here are some ways you can support someone who is struggling

  • Ask her how she is feeling. Be open to her response. Keep the conversation going.
  • Empathize. Don’t talk her out of her feelings. Don’t try to convince her it’s not so bad.
  • Ask her what she needs.
  • If she is grieving, ask if she wants to talk about the person she misses. Does she want to hear stories you remember? Does she want to share stories about that person?
  • Keep checking in. Ask if she would prefer texts or phone calls and then check in regularly. Checking in can be as simple as “Thinking of you. How are you today?” “Can I bring you anything?” “Would you like some company?”
  • If your loved one is grieving, help her honor special occasions and events. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
  • If your loved one is depressed, offer concrete things you can do together. “Let’s go for a walk.” “Let’s go to this event, I will pick you up at 4pm.”
  • Let your loved one know she is not alone!

Here are some additional resources I found.

Supporting a grieving person

How to help a grieving friend

How to help someone who is depressed

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