We all experience traumatic events throughout our lifetime. We don’t mean for them to occur – they just do. And when a friend or close family member suffers from an upsetting event, it’s important to know how you can show up for your loved one to help them through the aftermath.
When you’re in this position, you’ll feel unsure, confused, and may not know what to do or say to help.
Consider these strategies whenever someone close to you suffers a trauma:
1. Use what you know about your friend.
Are they usually quiet? Do they usually talk your ears off? Consider how they might respond to the troubling event they’ve recently experienced.
- Being open to understanding that your friend might act different during this time can help you be better prepared to be the best friend you can be to your cherished loved one.
2. Be supportive.
When you’re near the person, think about what you could to do help them most. Focus your efforts. Do they usually enjoy going for a walk or out to coffee? Maybe they’ve always loved going to lunch at a particular restaurant. You can be supportive by inviting your friend to do things they enjoy.
- If she doesn’t appear interested, consider inviting her to a quiet dinner and evening watching a movie at your house. Going to your home might be a more relaxing, less overwhelming experience for your friend than going out.
- Allow your loved one to move at their own pace. It’s their journey to experience it as they choose.
3. Acknowledge to your friend that you’re sorry about what happened to them.
Sometimes, a statement as simple as, “I’m so sorry this happened to you” can be all that’s necessary to give your friend the opportunity to talk openly about how they feel.
- Giving this simple “sorry” also provides important acknowledgement to your friend that you recognize they’ve been through a major life event. Doing so is showing you’re interested in understanding how they feel.
4. Tell your friend you’ll be there for them at any time and mean it.
Make it clear your friend is free to call you or drop by to your home whenever they feel like it. This might take some effort on your part to be on stand-by for them, but you’ll be glad you did.
- Strive to do whatever it takes to come to their aid.
5. Call your friend more frequently than usual to check in with them.
Share information about your day or what you’ve been doing. Talk about the book you’re reading or how your kids are doing in school. Hopefully, your friend will do the same. The goal here is to stay positive.
- Taking this step will begin to normalize your friend’s life again, which is usually welcomed, given the unusual trauma they’ve recently experienced.
6. Just listen.
Many times, someone who’s gone through a troubling time simply wants to talk about it. It’s not even necessary to comment or give your opinion of what your friend has been through. As long as you’re listening, they know you care. Don’t try to solve it but simply listen.
7. Have patience.
Because your friend might not recover in the same way that you would or that you expect them to, patience will come in handy. There’s no defined timeline for getting over a traumatic event. Therefore, having patience will enable your friend to re-blossom at a pace necessary for them.
When someone you care about experiences a traumatic event, it might take them a long time to fully recover from it. However, you can serve as a great support to encourage your friend to gradually get back into the swing of life.
Following the simple steps above to be there for a friend in need will aid you to provide the special care and compassion your friend needs to continue peacefully down life’s path.