True friends quickly become apparent when navigating difficult times. They are the ones that offer support when it is truly needed. People often ask me what to do to help people going through a separation, as they feel helpless.
To be a good friend to someone going through change can be challenging. It can take a lot of energy and time to support people during a breakup, but true friends always know their investment is worthwhile. Difficult times are usually temporary and good friends can last a lifetime!
Here are some of my ideas for people trying to be supportive as someone goes through a separation.
Ways to be a supportive friend:
- The best thing you can do is simply be present. Show up and be there. If they don’t seem to want anyone around, respect that, but don’t forget them. Call and check in on them and give them time to work through things on their own if this is what they want.
- If you do not want to hear the negatives of the ex-partner or separation details, specify this upfront and be assertive about it. (This is particularly true for family members and friends that are trying to stay in touch with both parties.)
- Listen if they want to talk. Listen with empathy and compassion. Walking and talking is a great activity.
- Be kind.
- Do not judge. Try and remain open and understand their perspective.
- Before you start offering suggestions or solutions, clarify if they are welcome. Sometimes people do not want advice. They just want to be heard and are not ready to listen.
- Include them in fun activities; take them out and find distractions to ease off some of the stress and negative energy. Activities with other people are great at taking the focus off the situation and creating some much needed positive energy and relaxation.
- Keep a sense of humour!
- Pitch in if you see things need doing. Do the dishes. Cut the lawn. Babysit or take the kids out for, or with, them.
- Allow them time to grieve and gain perspective.
- Ask how you can help. They usually know what they need from you.
- Remain honest and voice your thoughts and concerns with respect and compassion as suggestions. Do not tell them what to do.
- Respect their choices even if you do not agree with them. It is their life, not yours, and the decisions are theirs to make.
Please let me know what you did to help a friend in crisis in the comments below.
Below are some other blogs on friendship that may be of interest:
If you are having trouble managing your separation or are worried about a friend, please contact me.
I do offer a strategy session. Please call or email so we can discuss how you, or your friend, can benefit from coaching.
The Separation Project Coach!
Your Divorce Coach in Dundas!
Photo © luna123 / depositphotos