What to say when someone is having a hard time

12 Things to Say to Someone Going Through Hard Times

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The important people in your life will sometimes experience challenges and heartbreaks. As a family member, friend, or even colleague, you’ll likely want to let these people know you care for them when they’re struggling. You want these people to know you’re there for them, even if all you can do is offer some small degree of comfort.

Jump ahead to these sections:
  • How You Can Support a Family Member Going Through a Hard Time
  • What to Say to a Friend Experiencing Hard Times
  • What to Say to an Acquaintance or Colleague Who’s Going Through a Rough Patch

Consider these ideas for how to console someone if you’re aware that a friend or loved one is going through hard times. Your message may be exactly what that person needs to hear. Here are some ideas for what to say to someone going through a hard time.

Tip: If someone you know recently lost a loved one, our post-loss checklist can help them sort through the complicated tasks and challenges they might be facing. 

How You Can Support a Family Member Going Through a Hard Time

Family members need one another, and saying the right words is one of the most important things you can do when your loved one is struggling. Ideas to consider include:

1. “Thank you for all you do for us, but now is a time to take care of yourself as well.”

Family members are often responsible for taking care of each other in various ways, and that includes doing chores and key duties.

When a family member is going through a difficult experience, he or she might not be able to justify a much-needed break. Help your family member by letting him or her know that you’d like to take over some responsibilities while your family member tends to his or her own needs.

If you're far away from your family member and can't be there in person, consider sending a care package with food or some of their favorite things in addition to your message.

2. Remind your family member of something very kind he or she did for you.

Your family members have probably been there for you when you were going through hard times. Remind them of this when they’re in the same boat. They’ll be happy to know they made you feel better. More importantly, hearing about how they helped you may make them feel a little bit better.

3. “I’m proud of you.”

Depending on the nature of your relationship with a family member, there’s a good chance this important person would love to hear that you’re proud of the way he or she is dealing with a painful experience.

For example, parents might tell a child that they’re proud of how he or she dealt with a very difficult breakup.

4. “My job is to make your life easier right now. This is how I’m going to do it.
Does that work?”

Family members need to support each other when one is in pain. However, if you only ask a family member “How can I help?” when he or she is struggling, your loved one might not actually let you know. Instead, offer to make his or her life easier during this painful time in specific ways.

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What to Say to a Friend Experiencing Hard Times

Friends aren’t just people we share fun times with. They’re also the people we may turn to when life is difficult. If you know a friend would like to hear from you right now, get in touch to share one of these messages:

5. “I hate that you’re going through this, but I know that you’ve got this.”

People want to know their friends don’t just like them but admire them as well. Tell a friend going through a tough time that you know he or she has the strength to overcome it.

Even better, reference a specific story or life event that proves your friend is as strong as you claim.

6. “You’ve got a lot on your plate. Can we set a time to chat every week?”

Maybe you’re trying to think of what to say when someone has a sick family member that needs to be cared for. In this instance, let your friend know you’re impressed with how well she’s handling caregiving responsibilities and suggest a specific time each week when she can call you to vent. You can also consider sending coffee and sweets for her to enjoy while you two chat.

7. “Remember when you were there for me? It’s my turn to do the same for you.”

Like family members, friends going through hard times often feel better when someone reminds them that they’ve been a big help in the past.

Let your friend know you want to support her by reminding her of a specific time when she did the same for you. This will boost your friend’s odds of actually accepting your offer to help.

8. “You’re my best friend. Helping in any way I can is my top priority right now. Please believe that.”

Sometimes, saying “sorry for your loss” isn’t enough to convey to a friend just how much you care when a loved one has passed on. Go the extra mile by wearing your heart on your sleeve. Tell your friend what his or her friendship has meant to you, and why helping in any way possible is very important to you.

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What to Say to an Acquaintance or Colleague Who’s Going Through a Rough Patch

The people we wish to comfort aren’t always close family members and friends. Throughout your life, you’ll also likely have colleagues and casual acquaintances who are experiencing tough times. Here are some things you might say to them when this happens:

9. “Here’s how we’re going to take care of your work while you’re away.

A colleague going through a rough patch may need to take a step back from work for a period of time to address other needs. This may be true if your colleague is in mourning, struggling with an illness, or otherwise dealing with a life challenge that consumes a lot of his or her time.

Your colleague might stress about work and wonder who will be handling all the responsibilities until he gets back. You can help your colleague in a very big way by coordinating with supervisors and coworkers to divvy up responsibilities. Get in touch and show your colleague you have work responsibilities under control.

10. “If you need a reference, networking help, anything like that at all, let me know. Happy to help!”

A colleague may be going through a tough time because he or she got unexpectedly laid off. There’s a decent chance you might be able to help by serving as a reference or introducing your colleague to others in your industry.

Offering to help in these key practical ways could make your colleague (or former colleague) feel much better.

11. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I went through a very similar experience, and if you ever need advice, I have plenty to share.”

In some instances, it makes sense to reach out to a minor acquaintance when you hear he or she is struggling with a difficult life experience. This is particularly true if this person’s life experience is very similar to one you’ve also been through.

For example, maybe an acquaintance was diagnosed with an illness you previously had. In this case, you could reach out and let her know you understand what she’s going through.

12. Share a positive memory you have of an acquaintance.

As you probably guessed, this is another way you might comfort someone you only know through friends. A friend of a friend might be going through a rough patch, but let’s say you genuinely have a positive memory involving this person.

Consider reaching out and letting this distant friend know about it. It’s always nice to hear when you’ve made a positive difference.

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Offer Support—It’ll Be Appreciated 

Again, you won’t always know what to say to someone going through a hard time. Everyone has this experience at some point. When you’re feeling that way, keep these ideas in mind.

How To Talk To Someone Going Through A Hard Time

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't easy for anyone, and there's a good chance you have at least one friend or loved one who is struggling with something serious right now — whether that's unemployment, loneliness, relationship problems, or illness or death of a loved one. If someone you care about is going through a rough patch, here are some things you can do to show up for them.

1. Keep your focus on them.

When listening to a friend in need, it’s crucial to actually listen. That means listening to hear, not listening to respond. It’s not that sharing your thoughts isn’t helpful; it’s just that it’s so easy to dominate the conversation without even realizing it.

In We Need To Talk, Celeste Headlee cites sociologist Charles Derber’s description of two types of responses that exist in conversations: the shift response and the support response. The shift response draws attention to you; the support response keeps attention on the other person. Here’s what the two responses might look like in practice.

The shift response

Friend: I’m so exhausted all the time.
You: Ugh, me too. I haven’t been sleeping well at all lately.

The support response

Friend: I’m so exhausted all the time.
You: Oh? Are you not sleeping well lately, or do you think there’s some other cause?

Offering more support responses and fewer shift responses is a good conversational habit in general, but it’s especially wise to be conscious of this when your friend is going through a tough time.

2. Resist the urge to say, “I understand,” or to share your version of a similar-seeming experience.

If you are confident you’ve had a similar experience that they might want to hear about, maybe say something like this: “I lost my mom to cancer when I was fifteen, and while I know I’ll never understand how you feel right now, I am here if you ever want to talk about losing a parent.” The key is to let them decide if the experiences are similar enough to bond over, and to frame it as “this is something we can talk about later” instead of derailing the current conversation to talk about your experience.

3. When in doubt, ask.

It’s truly OK not to know what to say or do in response to a friend’s terrible situation. They might not even know what they want you to say or do. So if you’re not sure, ask. Here are some questions that you might want to ask in these moments.

“How can I best support you right now?”

This is my all-time favorite question when a friend is dealing with something difficult (or is simply stressed out). I like it because it communicates “I am here for you” while also saying “and I care about you enough to get this right.” It acknowledges that everyone is different and invites the individual to tell you what they need from you personally. It also shows humility; when you ask this question, you communicate “I don’t necessarily know best, and I’m open to feedback.” Finally, it gives them an opening to subtly steer you away from any of your default responses that aren’t going to be helpful to them at the moment (e.g., they can say “I need you to be my rock” if they know you tend to get really emotional).

“What are you in the mood for right now?”

This question gives your friend permission to set the tone of the conversation or hangout, and gives them the gift of control. They may not realize that they get to have a say in how they cope, so let them know that you’re here for them whether they’re in the mood to talk, laugh, cry, yell, vent, scream, do research, be cheered up, be sad, continue on with your original plans, get a manicure, pretend this isn’t happening, or whatever.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

This is my go-to response immediately after a person has told me something shitty that just happened to them. What I’m really saying is, “This sounds bad. I’m here for you, but I’m going to make sure a conversation with me is what you want/need right now before I launch into it.” Occasionally when I do this, the person will realize they actually don’t want to talk about it, or will say they want to talk about it at some point later, but for now, they’d prefer to stay focused on the task at hand. Which: great! I’d rather give them a moment to think about what they really want to do instead of replying in a way that gets them all fired up and emotional before they even realize what is happening.

“Oh! How are you feeling about it?”

I say this when I need a liiiitle more information. A lot of people (myself included!) have a habit of telling others what happened but forget to say how they feel about what happened. I don’t want to be the friend who says “Oh no!” in response to a wanted pregnancy, or who mistakes a demotion at work for exciting job news. I’d prefer not to take the risk when it’s so easy to do a quick check-in before I start emoting.

“Do you want my thoughts/advice on this, or do you just want to vent? I’m totally here for you either way.”

This is a good option if your friend isn’t telling you what they need from you in this moment, or if you tend to be a fixer and advice giver. “How are you doing/feeling today?” This question acknowledges that bad times aren’t static; a lot can change on a daily, weekly, or even hourly basis. It also lets people decide to tell you about their morning instead of, you know, the past three months of hell they’ve been going through.

“Are you OK to keep talking about this, or would you like a break?”

I keep this one in mind when my friend and I are having a particularly heavy conversation and the friend is visibly distraught or drained. Note: This is not something you should say to hint that you’d like to wrap up the conversation; if you’re getting tired or burned out, it’s best to skip this question entirely. Only ask this if it’s coming from a place of genuine care.

“Would you prefer to be alone right now or would you like some company?”

When you’re with someone who has just received very bad news, who is super emotional, or who is about to have a tough conversation with a third party (like, say, a doctor, lawyer, or detective), it’s reasonable to default to doing what you would want a friend to do in that moment. So if you’d hate to be left alone while weeping, you’ll probably assume your friend wants you to stay while they cry. And if you can’t imagine letting a friend listen in while you receive test results from your doctor, you may bounce the moment their provider appears. This is the right instinct, but if you guess wrong, the other person might feel worse. So just ask what they’d prefer, and then do exactly what they say they want.

4. Go easy on the fact-finding questions.

In There Is No Good Card for This, Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell point out that asking too many clarifying questions can actually get in the way of sharing. “Fact-finding questions can divert the conversation away from what a person really wants to talk about to what the asking person wants to know,” they say, “and fact-finding conversations create a detached, clinical portrayal of the problem rather than an emotional one. Getting the facts can be important to your helping in the long term, but you don’t usually need a lot of specific facts to comfort someone.” That last part is key — remember that this conversation is about how they are feeling, not the minor details of what happened.

5. Know that there’s no shame in a genuine “I’m so sorry.”

If you want “I’m so sorry” to have meaning, just make sure you say it with meaning. There’s a huge difference between offering a robotic “I’m sorry for your loss” before you’ve even had time to process the news, and a sincere, genuine, “Oh, friend, I’m so sorry.” ●

Excerpted from The Art of Showing Up: How to be There for Yourself and Your People by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. Available wherever books are sold.

"Hold on", "I understand you", "The time has come" - how not to console - About Palliative


"I understand you"

"Calm down", "Pull yourself together" strong!"

"Hold on"

"Everything will be fine", "Everything will be fine", "Life goes on"

"You will have more children", "You will still have a healthy baby"

"It's time"

"God takes the best" , “God took, God gave”, “Now he is with God, he is well”

“How are you?”

How to help? Indifference

When you think about what to say to a person experiencing grief, usually either banal words or dry phrases come to mind, or you don’t know what to say at all. For example, when a person goes to work after the loss of a loved one, colleagues find it important to say: “Condolences,” “I’m sorry,” “I sympathize.” But it’s one thing when it’s said from the heart, by those who really sympathize, it’s another thing when such words are repeated all over the place.

Duty phrases, at best, pass by, but can also offend, anger when they are said just to say, for the sake of form.

This happens not at all because people are stupid, cruel or indifferent, but because they feel embarrassed and consider it their duty to say something, to somehow respond to someone else's grief. I believe that the principle should work here: if the words come from the soul, from the heart, if you want to say - speak. But don't use dry platitudes just to say it. If you don’t know what to say, shut up or tell the truth: “I don’t know what to say to you now. What can I do for you to make you feel better? Do you want me to just sit next to you? We can be silent or talk together. What can I do for you?". Because it happens that people in an attempt to console a grieving person only make it more painful.

“I understand you”

Usually the inner reaction to such an attempt to console is: “No, you don't understand!”. Your wounds always hurt more. Even if you had a similar situation in your life, it is yours, you experienced it differently. Grief is always individual.

In addition, when a person experiences his own grief, he does not want to hear about how it was with you. It is important for him to talk about his .

Once upon a time we were on the “Hot Line” (“Hot Line” of the Center for Emergency Psychological Assistance of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia, which Larisa Pyzhyanova led from 2007 to 2014 - ed.) 9A woman called 0026 and told how her father, a pilot, died 20 years ago. Once, calling, she got on a young employee. And she began to tell him how hard it was for her, because at that time there was no psychological support, and she was left alone with her grief. And the young guy "on the machine" replied: "Yes, I understand." The woman asked again: “Your father, a pilot, also died 20 years ago?!”

The words "I understand you" can still be positively perceived when other parents who have lost a child so sympathize with the parents who have also lost a child. And you still need to be careful - everyone's situation is different! Someone had a child who was absolutely healthy, successful and died suddenly, as a result of a tragic accident: in one moment, his whole life changed. For others, on the contrary, the child was seriously ill for a long time, they realized that he would die. Which one is harder? Can they understand each other?

Test. Can you comfort someone in grief?

Take the test “Can you console a person in grief?

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Therefore, there are no blanks and standard phrases for consolation, some kind of universal training manual: everything is very individual.

"Calm down", "Pull yourself together"

you feel!" This is a devaluation of his feelings. It must be understood that if he could, he would have calmed down without any "prompts". But his grief, his fear is poured out in this form, these are such strong emotions that he is not able to cope with them.

Actually, hysterics, screams, aggression, tears are nothing more than a request for help: he wants to be heard, understood.

In this case, it is necessary to recognize and describe his feelings in words: “I see that you are angry.” However, sensitivity is also needed here, it is necessary to choose the right words, because if a person who is furious says directly to the forehead: “I see that you are annoyed,” he will simply explode. You need to get into the emotion exactly: “You can’t cope, you want to do something, but you don’t know what.” Why is it important to say? To make the person feel that you understand him. In fact, all his reactions are about this: “You can’t hear me. Hear me!

Aggression, rage, hysteria can frighten the very person who shows these emotions. He looks at himself from the outside and thinks: “What am I doing?! I must be crazy."

But in a situation of great grief, crying, crying is normal. We must give him the right to behave like this : “Cry, shout out. You're furious now, let her out. You have a right to it." By giving such “permission” to express feelings, you also remove guilt from a person.

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

In our culture, it is generally not customary to openly express one's feelings, boys are told from childhood: “Don't cry”, tears are considered weakness. Therefore, men often hold back. When I saw that a man who had lost a child was balancing on the edge - his lips were shaking, he was clenching his fists - I could sit next to him, take his hand and say: “There are times when everyone has the right to cry, even men. Cry, you have the right to do so . But how else - you have a great grief, how could it be otherwise? He cried. And he felt better.

Experience of grief at work How to help yourself when you have to experience acute grief and at the same time continue to work, fulfill your social functions

Grief causes strong emotions, acute feelings - and this is an absolutely normal reaction. Sometimes giving someone “permission” to cry when they don’t give it to themselves can be a big help.

"You have to be strong!"

In fact, when we say: "Calm down", "Pull yourself together", "Be strong" - we show concern not for the person who is in grief, but for ourselves.

It's hard to see other people's strong emotions, we don't know what to do with them, we want it to stop, that's why we say such phrases that have a message behind them: “Don't show me all this horror, your emotions scare me! ".

But sometimes it is important to say to a person like this: “Now you are crying, sobbing, you are in grief, you have a right to it. But it will be very important for us today to do this and that (for example, to draw up documents). You cry, but when you can, let's talk about it."

It happens that one person in the family, as it were, takes away the “monopoly on the mountain” and allows himself to blame everyone, to fight endlessly in hysterics and aggression, not noticing that his family is also very bad. It is important to say: “You are in great grief. But it is also with your husband, and with your children, your parents - they all suffer. You must be together in your common grief."

When else do you want to say to a person: “Pull yourself together, be strong”? When he has apathy, he turned away to the wall and lies like that for days, not reacting to anything. Such manifestations of grief are worse than aggression or crying: apathy suggests that a person has no strength.

Therefore, it is pointless to demand from him that he pull himself together, get ready. You need to take care of him on a physical level: bring him food, drink, feed him, if necessary, give him tea. And then slowly stir him up: smoothly involve him in some kind of activity - offer to take a walk, go to the store, help with the housework. Then the forces will appear.

“Hold on”

Indeed, this very common duty phrase often causes nothing but irritation. “What are you holding on for?!”, “How are you holding on?”.

Society's attitude towards death. From the book “In the Middle of Life” Why, despite the inevitability of death, we try not to talk about it, and how this “conspiracy of silence” affects children who have lost loved ones

But just recently I heard the story of a young woman. She was very upset by the loss of her husband, she cried a lot, yearned. She had an elderly father-in-law, to whom she treated with great warmth. And once I went to him to support, to be near. However, when she arrived, she realized that if she started talking, she would burst into tears. She did not want to cry - she came to support, and not to be consoled.

It turned out that they just sat silently at the table all evening. We drank tea and were silent. And when she got up to say goodbye and leave, her father-in-law hugged her and said: “Hold on, daughter.” And in these words there was so much love, care and anxiety for her, so much desire to help and at least somehow support, that she later admitted: “It was as if grace descended on me at that moment and I realized that I could survive my grief. ” Listening to her, I understood the seemingly obvious - not so much the words are important, but the feelings that stand behind them.

“Everything will be fine”, “Everything will be fine”, “Life goes on”

whatever happened. Naturally, he doesn't want to hear about it. A person in acute grief thinks very differently: "I will be fine only if my loved one is next to me again."

It may be good, but in a different way, and not immediately. First, he will have to learn to live without a loved one who has died. Grief is a process.

During mourning, a person performs a huge inner work, which is to keep the love and memory of the deceased, to go on in life without him. At the beginning of this journey, he does not imagine how good it is, but without a loved one. Therefore, the phrase "Everything will work out" is more likely to provoke an internal protest than to support.

But at the same time, you can tell him: “I know that it’s very hard for you now, but I also know that you can handle it.

At the moment of acute grief, a person is in an altered state of consciousness, he often does not remember what friends or a psychologist say to him. But you can say these words to him, on which he can then rely: “You are very bad now, there will be moments when it will be even worse, and then better: it will be different. Everything that happens is normal, this is how grief is experienced, and there is no other way. The main thing to remember: you can handle it . You will be able to survive it. Take your time, give yourself time, strength will come, and you will learn to live on.

Unchildish grief Oncopsychologist Pavel Sapozhnikov on how to talk to a child about the death of parents

This must be said with confidence. Where such confidence? The fact is that a person has internal strengths and resources to cope with almost everything, this is how he is arranged, we know this from many examples. You do not know if he will be all right, but you hope that he has the strength to endure his great grief. You convey your hope to him in the form of the attitude "You can do it, you can do it." And somewhere at the level of his subconscious, this is fixed as a fact: “I can”, and this becomes a support.

“You will still have children”, “You will give birth to a healthy child”

This is often the way to comfort the parents of a dead child. But we must understand that for them the very thought of another child can be tantamount to the betrayal of a deceased child. In addition, no one knows whether they will have more children, whether they want to have children. It happens that a man consults: “I am so afraid that my wife may go crazy. Can we have another child? I understand that all this is from the best of intentions, but I always answer this way: “You probably had the worst thing that can happen in life - you lost a child. We lost the one you love, who became the meaning of life, with whom so many hopes were associated. And now 9 more0025 his time is the time of your parting with him, the time when you learn to live without him. Live this time, and then decide whether you will have more children or not.

But in fact, the truth here is also something else: if parents give birth to a child immediately after the loss, then there is a high risk that they can give birth to a substitute child.

This situation is dangerous because parents can unwittingly make the second child responsible for living the life of the deceased: they will compare him out loud or mentally with the first child, correct his behavior. They do this without wanting anything bad, simply, not having fully experienced the loss, they cannot renounce the image of the deceased child and transfer it to the newly born. But a completely different person was born! With its own characteristics, its own character and life tasks. And he may not resemble a dead child in any way. This pain can resonate in the soul of the parents and severe resentment in the soul of the child who is not accepted for who he is.

If guilt tears the heart apart In all the languages ​​of the universe, so different, we are connected by one dialect - the one that sounds in our hearts as the voice of pain. When we lose loved ones...

Psychologists usually advise not to make vital decisions within a year or two after the loss. You must first survive the grief, and then think about how to build your life further.

“The time has come”

This is how people often talk about the death of elderly people. This may sound arrogant. How can a person so confidently declare for whom it is time to die, and for whom it is not?

Another thing is that for a person who is experiencing the loss of a beloved grandparent or parent, it does not matter how old they were. What difference does it make if it's time or not? He's hurt by the breakup!

When, after the death of my mother, I was filling out the necessary documents, I went into one office, and a woman I knew was sitting there. She said to me so calmly: “Mom died? Well, such is her age, her time has come - and she died. Yes, my mother was 79 years old, a worthy age, God forbid we all live so long. I didn’t answer her, but I thought: “You shouldn’t have said that.” It seems to be a standard phrase, but it doesn't sound good at all. "Her time has come." Maybe so, but it is very difficult for someone who has just lost a loved one to hear this. This phrase cannot console anyone.

“God takes the best”, “God took, God gave”, “Now he is with God, he feels good”

The phrase “God takes the best” is also dubious consolation, it is incomprehensible and illogical. It turns out that those who live long are the worst?

"Now he is with God" - so a believer can say to another believer. But this, rather, is not a consolation, but a statement: they both believe in it. However, the pain of separation from such words still does not decrease: when a person dies, we cry for ourselves, because we are bitter to part.

Photo: Jack Sharp / Unsplash

Saying such words to a non-religious, unchurched person very often means to inflame his wounds. There is a movie called "Rabbit Hole" where parents are shown dealing with the death of a child. They come to a support group, and there one mother says: “I know that my baby is now an angel, he is with God, he is fine. And we are happy! In response, the second mother explodes: “What, God can’t make himself angels?! Why did he want my child?

Such conversations with unchurched people can cause strong aggression. In general, resentment against God often arises at a moment of grief, people may be perplexed: “Why did God take my son (or husband, wife)? I don't need a God like that!"

Therefore, people who truly believe can talk about God among themselves. And, in addition, we must remember that faith is something deeply personal: each of us has our own beliefs, our own life experience and experience of faith, so the same words can respond in people in very different ways.

How are you?

This phrase is rather an attempt to make contact when a person does not know what to say, but it is important for him to start talking to someone who is experiencing a loss. And what to say? "How are you?". You need to understand that the answer to such a question can be anything, and be aware of how you will act further. As a phrase to enter into a dialogue, such words can take place, but they should not be limited.

If a person cares, he can ask differently: “ What can I do for you? . Even if the mourner says, "Nothing," that's fine too.

At some point he needs to be left alone, or he really doesn't know how to help him. If you have specific suggestions, it’s better to voice them: “Let me stay with you”, “Let me come, help you with the housework, cook something”, “Let me take a walk with your children.”

In fact, often a person really does not need anything - just to be around, that's enough. Nothing special to say and no need ...

“Stay with me” — this is the meaning of the hospice The legendary St. Petersburg psychiatrist, MD, honorary doctor of the University of Essex, Andrey Vladimirovich Gnezdilov about work and life in the hospice

It so happened that when my mother died , there were no relatives, no relatives, no friends next to me, they were all in Moscow, and I was a thousand kilometers away. And, of course, despite all my professional and life experience, I experienced fear, grief, and confusion.

I don't know how I would have coped, but, thank God, my friend was there. The closest, the most real, with whom we have been friends for 36 years. She did not say any special words, did not perform heroic deeds, she was simply there all the time - in intensive care, when the doctor said: “We did everything we could ...”, in the morgue, where it was so unbearably scary to go alone, because there lies your mother, at home, in the cemetery, after the funeral. I don't know how she did it, because the academic year was starting, she was the head of the department at the university, and she had a lot of things to do, and the university was in another city. She left, came and at the same time was always there. I don't know how I would have been without her.

Then my relatives arrived and I felt better from their very presence. I decided to stay until 9 days, and my son told me: "I'm staying too." I began to object that he had a university, studies, and he calmly replied: “I will be here as long as you will be.” This cannot be overestimated.

How can I help? Indifference

I have been working with people experiencing acute grief for many years, and still every time before meeting a person I am in some kind of stupor: I don’t know what exactly I will tell him. But when you come into contact with a person, there is an emotional connection between you, and the words come by themselves. For each they will be different. That's why I think it's important to feel the person. And this will not work if you are indifferent to him.

We can support a person only when we are emotionally with him, when we care.

There is such an idea that if you are not indifferent to everyone who has grief, you will “burn out”, waste yourself, it will destroy you, so you need to keep your distance. But all my experience says otherwise.

Indifference gives strength: we not only give, we receive.

When you fence yourself off and try to avoid difficult experiences, they still overtake you and “break through”, and this destroys you. At the moment when I communicate with a person, he is the most important person in the world for me. If you approach human grief in this way, the necessary phrases are found, and burnout does not occur.

You may be interested:

How to help a grieving childHow a child perceives death and experiences grief at different ages, why it is important to take children to funerals, and why the phrases “Poor thing, you are left alone” or “Now you are the head of the house” are dangerous People can't stand other people's pain About what can be done for a person who has lost a loved one. Personal experience. Grief is special for the elderly How to help your elderly parents cope with losses and worries Men don't cry Why it is difficult for grieving men to show their feelings and what to do about it

Larisa Pyzhyanova

The material was prepared using a grant from the President of the Russian Federation provided by the Presidential Grants Foundation.

Support and do no harm A psychologist told how to help a loved one cope with an emotional shock

Finding themselves in a difficult life situation, most people more often turn to friends or family members for support, not to professional psychologists. But not everyone knows how to help a person who is in a depressed emotional state or even depression. Evgeniy Ilyich Morozov, a psychologist at a private clinic at CJSC, told how to properly and effectively support a person in trouble.

  1. Stay close

- When we find out that our friend or relative is in a difficult situation, we usually don't know what to say. But most people who are going through an emotional upheaval are not looking for specific advice, but for support. When a person is hurt, he really needs understanding and sympathy. Therefore, personal contact is one of the effective methods of influence, - the psychologist notes. - Do not leave alone a person who has experienced the misfortune of one, but just stay close. If necessary, you can even move in with him for a while or visit regularly, - says psychologist Morozov. - As a rule, people who have experienced grief remember that friendly hugs and simple words of sympathy and support turned out to be the most effective: “I'm very sorry.” Prophetic phrases like

“Everything will be fine”, on the contrary, cause irritation. They look empty, because no one can know the future.

  1. Don't be intrusive

- It is important not to overdo it with personal contacts, - Evgeny Ilyich emphasizes, - You should not “strangle” with your attention and care. It is enough for a person to feel your presence in his life. Say a simple phrase, "I'm always there and I can listen to you." Do not bother with conversations if the person is not ready to share their experiences, but simply make it clear that you understand what is happening in the soul of your loved one.

Also, don't hang up the phone asking you to keep up to date. Better to write than call. A person can be busy or avoid talking, and he will be able to answer letters, SMS when the opportunity and time arise.

  1. Don't ask for details

- Often you want to know more details and details of what happened. But how can they help? This is a simple manifestation of curiosity, - the psychologist notes, - Imagine for yourself, a person has recently experienced a serious shock in his life, and clarifying the details makes him return to misfortune again and again and again be transported to a moment of acute stress.

  1. Offer specific assistance

- Someone who finds himself in a difficult situation definitely needs help. Of course, depending on the circumstances, it will be different. Therefore, it is better to immediately assess the situation, inform that you want to help and clarify what exactly can be done, the psychologist recommends.

In a difficult emotional state, as a rule, there is absolutely no strength to do household chores. Therefore, even seeing off the child to school, preparing dinner

or a trip to the store can make life easier for your loved one.

  1. Organize a fundraiser

- People who find themselves in difficult life circumstances often experience financial difficulties. But accepting and, moreover, asking for money is always difficult, the psychologist notes. - Don't ask a person who is in trouble

if he needs money. It is better to organize a fundraiser among your friends yourself, and just hand over the envelope. It will be a good support, you will be grateful.

  1. Do not give useless advice

- You also need to know how to give advice. Phrases from the series "it was necessary to do it wrong, but like this" are useless and cause only irritation, - Evgeny Ilyich notes. - The event has already happened, it will not be possible to return to the past and correct the situation, but

drive a person into an even greater emotional upheaval

with such advice - with ease. It is better to give more effective recommendations. For example, to advise some specialist who will help resolve the situation. Give his contact or offer to arrange a meeting with him. This

you will be a real help.

  1. Refuse ratings

- Avoid judging the behavior of the person in distress, or of affected relatives and friends. Believe me, those who experience adversity need a judge the last thing. Also, there is no need to escalate the situation and add emotional coloring to it with phrases: "What happened is just awful!" or "He's still so young." Words that are meant to comfort can have the opposite effect.

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