Dos and Don’ts of Comforting Friends

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a good week, but if you or someone you know have not had a good week, you may relate to this post. Last night, I had dinner with a friend who is going through some hard times. She pointed out the difference in talking to her friends who are “social workers” (we met while employed for a social service agency), versus her friends who are not. Obviously, having one occupation over another does not necessarily make one a good or a bad friend, or any more or less adept at empathy. However, her point was clear: there are definite wrong ways to show support. She listed off a few that she has heard that are especially not so great, and a few wonderful ones, so I thought I would help us all change the world by being better friends, and share her insights

DO

  1. Validate what they are feeling
    Everyone experiences things in different ways. However they experience something is Ok. Let them know that any emotion they have is Ok.
  2. Listen
    For me personally, it is so easy to give advice. But when people are suffering, that’s not really what they want. Just listen, they are not asking you to solve their pain.
  3. Distract
    When appropriate, help them to do something they enjoy. You don’t need to walk on eggshells, their hard time is not all of who they are. It can serve as a good reminder that “this to shall pass”.

DON’T

Now that we’ve covered some basics… here is what NOT to say:

  1. “Everything¬†will be Ok”
    Yes it is true, but everything is not Ok right now, and that’s hard.
  2. “God wanted this to happen” or any variation…
    No comment. Yes, God allows bad things. No, you don’t need to tell them that makes bad things not bad.
  3. You can learn a lot through this
    Suffering is a cruel teacher. They are learning without you trying to point it out.

Well, I hope this inspires you to not only comfort your friends but to REACH OUT to show the world how much God loves it.

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