Stepping in to help a friend that’s facing struggles isn’t always easy. Some people don’t like to accept help, whilst others may abuse it. Taking the following steps can help you take the appropriate action and help your friend through the tough stage their going through.
Lend an ear
Most people going through tough times may simply want a sympathetic ear to talk to. Fully understanding their issues is important before taking action to help, so arrange a time for the two of you to meet where you can listen to what’s on their mind. If they’re not opening up but you can tell there’s a problem, getting them to loosen up with a few drinks might help. Focus on what your friend is feeling and don’t immediately try to solve the problem – unless they’ve asked you specifically for your advice.
Plan a day for the two of you
Plan a date in which the two of you can go out together or alternatively have a day in. Half the pain of a struggle is the loneliness of it. Don’t make the day out about the issue at hand, instead let it serve as a relief. This will allow you to see how well your friend is coping – if they can’t stop bringing up the subject or seem reserved than you know that extra help is needed.
Lighten the load
Lightening the load can be a great way of helping without getting too heavily involved in the issue at hand. Volunteer to look after kids, help pick up a parcel for them or invite round for dinner and cook food (useful if the struggles are also financial). Do small things that your friend won’t protest to.
Similarly, be careful of offering too much if they’re the kind of person that might use you. Cleaning up someone’s house that has a hoarding complex may temporarily fix the problem, but they may then rely on you to keep tidying when round – instead start cleaning and make some progress that may encourage them to do the rest themselves.
Help make plans
Their struggles may be causing them to not think straight or not focus on certain aspects of their lives that they should be. Be there to help make plans. Sometimes suggesting may be all you need to do. If your friend has a funeral but needs to plan a kids’ party, and you think they may have forgotten, start suggesting party plans to see if they’ve made any plans already. If they haven’t even considered it, then you may be able to step in and help plan something.
Also consider making plans to help combat their loneliness so that they’re not just relying on you. If they’re single, they may do well to get back into dating that could serve as a positive distraction if anything else. Suggest going to social events or even joining up dating sites. Online dating is now more popular than ever with specific sites for senior dating and dating people with similar interests – even if they don’t find a partner, they may meet people that leads to them growing their social circle. Also recommend joining clubs – the two of you could even join a club together.
Know when to give them space
As important as knowing when to help is knowing when to provide space. If they’re getting annoyed with you interfering, it may be time to back off. Similarly, if they’re relying on you too much, try to limit your help.