Unfortunately, at some point in our lives, we all have to tackle difficult situations. No matter how tough it is to deal with them ourselves, it’s also extremely difficult to watch our loved ones going through hard times. Here are some tips on how you can help them cope.
Firstly, providing an ear is one of the most helpful things that you can do. Talking is extremely helpful to anyone when they’re going through something difficult – it helps you to sort through your thoughts and to feel calmer. Being someone who your loved one can talk to, vent to, or ask for advice is invaluable. Unless they ask for it, though, or unless you have specialized knowledge about what they’re going through, don’t offer that advice automatically – they have much more understanding of their situation than you do, and chances are, they’ve already looked at what you’re thinking of suggesting. A lot of the time, people just need a sympathetic ear.
Provide Practical Help
The best way to help someone out is through deeds rather than words. It’s one thing to say ‘Let me know if you need some help’ but it’s another thing entirely to show up consistently, to take their kids to school, to help with laundry, and to provide the occasional casserole. If they need a ride and you can easily help, provide that help. If they’re dealing with grief, provide the name of a funeral director you know is good. If their partner or brother is dealing with substance abuse problems, research a good men’s drug rehab program nearby and give them a ride to check it out.
Keep Checking In
A lot of the time, when someone goes through something difficult, they get a flurry of sympathy and good wishes. But after a few weeks, it all dries up – but a lot of the time, the problem is still there. A sick partner is still sick, a leg is still broken, their relationship is still over, they’re still coming to terms with a bereavement, and so on. Make sure that you continue to be there for them – don’t stop offering that help, don’t stop asking them how they’re doing. Time heals most wounds, but not right away.
Don’t Take It Personally
When people are going through something rough, a lot of the time their immediate instinct is to push people away, particularly if the problem is something they consider to be embarrassing or if they feel overwhelmed. If that happens, don’t take it personally. Everyone reacts to trauma in a completely different way and a lot of the time those feelings are ugly and unpleasant and upsetting. Take a breath and remember that it’s their situation, and not you, that they’re angry with.
Know When To Step Away
Finally, it’s important to know when to step away and take time for yourself. You can’t help anyone if you’re overstretched and overburdened, and you can’t take anyone else’s problems onto your own shoulders. We all have our own stuff to deal with and it’s okay to take a breather.
Although helping your loved ones through hard situations can be difficult, these tips should make life a little easier.