It’s 2:00 a.m. and your phone rings. You wake up wondering who could be calling at this time of the night. You hear the voice of one of your friends, upset and crying. What do you do?
Here are the top ten ways of consoling a friend in need:
1. Patiently comfort them.
Even though you’d prefer to go back to sleep, stay up and listen to your friend. You probably won’t even need to say much. Let your friend talk things out and cry if they need to.
2. If your friend doesn't want to be alone, invite them to come over, or you could go to them.
Your friend is in need; it’s important to connect with them physically, if possible. While a telephone call will help, having you there with them is better.
3. After they've had a good cry, offer to help them get through the first couple of days by doing the mundane things they might not think about.
There’s laundry to do, food to cook, and many other daily tasks they probably aren’t thinking about.
Even if they have other people in their lives to help them, you can still offer. If they don’t take you up on your offer, they’ll appreciate that you thought enough of them to want to help.
4. Check in with them.
Call them as often as appropriate to see if they need anything. This way they know they can depend on you, and checking in often can comfort them. When things are uncertain, having someone they can count on can help make their life more normal.
5. Gather together some of your friend's favorite things and make a gift basket.
Fruit, candy, a deck of playing cards, a book they’ve wanted to read, a journal and pen are all great things to include in the basket. Tailor the basket to fit your friend’s personality.
6. Bring entertainment.
Your friend may not feel like going out, so bring over a movie or two, some snacks, and their favorite drink.
* A funny movie will help them forget their problems, even if momentarily.
* Be sure to bring plenty of tissues, too, just to be on the safe side.
7. Offer babysitting services to give them an opportunity to do things they need to do.
It will be much easier to leave their children with someone they know and trust rather than letting a stranger keep them.
8. Keep a positive, non-condescending attitude.
Avoid telling them “I know how you feel” or a similar statement. The truth is you may not actually know how they feel, but they need to know they can turn to you when they need you and that you’ll really be there.
9. Are they being abused?
If you suspect your friend is in an abusive relationship, look them in the eyes and say, “I’m here for you if you need me.” Looking them in the eye will help give a sense of confidence that you mean what you say.
Help them, and their children, be safe by letting them come to your house to call the domestic violence shelter, or offer to take them there.
10. Help your friend learn from the experience.
Instead of allowing them to wallow in self-pity or despair, offer them a fresh look at the situation.
For example, if they’ve just experienced a break up, let them know how you see things to give them your perspective to the problems that led to the break up.
With a fresh perspective they may see a solution they may not have seen before.
Obviously there are a myriad of things you can do to console a friend in need. The important thing is to be there for your friend and let them know they can turn to you.
Learn what you need to do to understand their circumstances so you’ll know how best to help. Then reach out and touch them, and you’ll touch their heart as well.