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How to Act When a Friend Goes Through a Tough Time

October 25, 2016

It can be paralyzing to know what to say and do when a friend is going through something difficult. Rather than avoiding your friend or doing the wrong thing, try one of these sure fire ways to support someone, no matter what he or she is facing.

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Send Care Packages

It’s so tough to be far away from a friend going through a tough time, but don’t let the distance discourage your support. Remember how amazing care packages were when you were a kid? Now’s the time to bring them back. Pack small things to cheer up your friend, like cheerful stationery, or nonperishable treats like a gourmet chocolate bar. Lightweight items like gift certificates can be slipped in to treat your friend to a massage or facial. A super soft pashmina is easily packed and might be just the thing for your friend to cozy up with after a long day. 

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Check In Frequently

If this is your first encounter with tragedy, grief, suffering, or struggle, it’s impossibly difficult to know what to say. But make the effort. Those going through a tough time are often isolated for exactly that reason: Friends don’t know what to say, so they stay silent. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to talk about their struggle. Your conversation about the funny thing your puppy did or where you found the most bonkers delicious tacos might actually be just the escape from reality your friend needs. No matter what, call, text, FaceTime, or email. Just check in often.

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Deliver Meals

When times are tough, food can be the last thing on your friend’s mind. Dropping off easy to reheat meals is a thoughtful way to help unobtrusively. Even better, offer to drop the meal on the doorstep, so that if your friend isn’t up for guests or small talk, you can still lend a hand without causing stress.

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Offer Heartfelt Words of Comfort

There is no circumstance ever, no matter what, in which cliches like those you hear repeated over and over are helpful. If you don’t know what to say, be there silently for your friend until you have something heartfelt to say. But avoid phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “time heals all wounds.” At the very best, they’re empty platitudes. At the worst, they discount the very real pain your friend is experiencing.

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