When Someone is Suffering | Do’s & Don’t’s
- Diagnosed with cancer.
- Suffered a miscarriage.
- Having a hard time at a job.
- Struggling in marriage.
- Challenges with a child.
We all have a friend or family member who’s been in one or more of these situations. As mamas, we know all too well the overwhelming pressure and pain that can come from life in a broken world – the exhaustion, stress, sleepless nights, never-ending appointments, piling bills, and deepening wrinkles brought about from similar situations to those above. Our hearts ache to help them, but words seem insufficient. Our hands long to do something to help, but we don’t want to intrude. What can we say or do to alleviate the weight of the world bearing upon those we care about?
Here are some suggested do’s and don’t’s:
- Don’t ask them to call if they need anything! They are struggling; they need something! It’s not their responsibility to tell you how to be a good friend. They have enough responsibilities and feel like they are not enough as it is. Simply call them and say, “I thought I would bring over fried chicken for your dinner tonight. What sides do you like?” They will love you for this (even if they don’t love fried chicken)!
- Do ask them on a Girls’ Day Out. Take off a day when the kids are in school and spend time together. See a movie, eat lunch, get a mani/pedi, or just hang at your house in pajamas watching the Hallmark channel.
- Do validate their suffering. Recognize that their situation is difficult and agree that it would be hard for you too.
- Don’t offer blanket hopefulness. Refrain from statements like: “It’ll be okay.” ” It’s not that bad.” “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” “You’ll grow from this.”
These phrases are said with good intentions, but usually it’s make them want to punch you in the face.
- Do bring dinner, take care of laundry, buy groceries. The normal little things are tough to do when the big things are overwhelming. Simple stuff makes a big difference.
- Do show up at their work, after-school event, or doorstep with their favorite beverage, cookie, sandwich, etc.. For me, a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts makes the world a lot easier to face. Some services and locations in town deliver all sorts of things, so order it to be delivered to them. My friend from South Carolina sent cookies and milk to my house after I had surgery and it was AWESOME!
- Do send texts or write notes to share that you care. A text of encouragement or prayer may come at just the right time to brighten their day and make the load not so heavy.
- Don’t think you have to solve their problem or fix the situation. You’re their friend, not a maintenance person.
- Do let them vent and don’t let them wallow there. As moms, we often put on a strong front to others, and we need friends who let us break down a bit. We also need friends who give us a good pull up when we’ve been down too much too long.
- Do encourage them to talk to a professional counselor. They’re not supposed to know how to deal with this, so it’s a good idea to talk to someone who does. Counselors can give perspective, teach communication skills for difficult situations, help understand others’, and guide through complicated emotions. Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program that can connect employees and their families with counselors, and many primary care physicians can make a referral. If those aren’t options, ask around your church, your work, or your friends.