How to help a friend in need

July 23, 2016

I reached inside and found the best parts of myself and offered them to her

There’s nothing like sisterhood – the bond between women that transcends ordinary acquaintance. When the going is good and the laughs keep rolling, it’s easy to smile and giggle through the joys of life with our sisters.

But when the going gets tough and a friend is suffering how do we help them in their hour of need? How do we offer support even though we might feel terrified or uncertain inside?

A cancer diagnosis

In recent years when a dear friend of mine was going through cancer I reached out to offer support in whatever way I could. The initial shock of her diagnosis didn’t deter or immobilise me – it empowered me to be the best friend I could be in her many hours of need.

So how did I help when the situation seemed helpless? I reached inside and found the best parts of myself and offered them to her. Here’s what I did:

  • I talked to her (because I love to yabber);
  • I listened to her (because there’s nothing more important);
  • I wrote to her (because it’s a gift I can give from the heart);
  • I encouraged her to smile in whatever ways I could:
  • I asked my kids to draw her pictures;
  • I created a book of positive words (for her to read whenever she needed);
  • I sent her cute gifts; and,
  • I emailed her joyful U-Tube clips.

The ways we offer support are limited only by our imaginations.

Support a sister

Whether someone you know is grieving the death of a loved one, is separated from a partner, is suffering from illness or otherwise, there are many things you can do to support a sister.

Here are some steps to get you started:

  • Ask her directly how you can help;
  • Listen and acknowledge her feelings;
  • Be patient and let her tell her story in her own time;
  • Help her prioritise self-care;
  • Phone her regularly to check in;
  • Write her caring letters/emails;
  • Send her care packages (e.g. bath salts, chocolates, tea bags);
  • Read her a beautiful passage from your favourite book;
  • Offer to take her out; and,
  • Remember that everyone heals differently – her way may be different to yours.

Healing resources

There are also some excellent positive healing resources online that can help in times of distress.

Clinical psychologist, Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, developed a method called TEARS—“Talking, Exercising, Artistic Expression, Recording or writing experiences, and Sobbing”—to help individuals cope with their emotions, particularly with grief.

Christina says these five things can give us something to do when feeling overwhelmed by life stress. Read her full article – here. Or for local professional support visit – here

Pick up the phone

It’s never too late to help a friend in need – pick up the phone and offer a sister support.

This article is dedicated to the amazing women who’ve helped me in my many hours of need.

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