A quick how to guide on how to be supportive to a friend/family member/co-worker/etc in crisis.
- Don’t talk about yourself
- Don’t try to fix it
- Shut up and listen
- Stop trying to fix it
- Everything doesn’t have meaning. Cancer, a car accident, death, there may not be meaning. A silver lining can belittle the experience pain, confusion or loss the person is feeling. It’s not helping.
- Be angry/sad/in pain with them. Encourage them to feel what they feel.
- There is no formula so don’t tell them how they should feel
- More listening
- Seriously, stop trying to fix it
- While it’s possible your story may be helpful it’s just as possible, perhaps and more possible, your story won’t help. Keep it short and to a really clear point (you’re not alone, yes I agree people do say dumb things, it helped me to take space). This is not the time for you to process.
- There is no time frame on pain. Let them move at the pace they need to.
- Be honest if you don’t know what to do. Tell them you don’t know what to do or how to help but you love them and you’re here.
- Follow up: you can make them a meal, watch their kids, take them out for drinks, rent a movie for them, clean their house, do some laundry, get groceries, etc. Really practical things that they just may not have time or energy to do.
- Offer to do some or all of the list above
- Prayer is great, but if you can you should answer your own prayer for them.
- I cannot stress this enough, your roll is not to fix this or render some kind of meaning. Some things just suck! Let them suck.
- Listen more than you speak
It’s not an exhaustive list and it’s not universally applied but it’s a really good starting point for love in darkness.