What’s the first thing you do when you find someone, close to you, struggling? By struggling I mean, more than being sad, a little beyond having a bad day, or a fight with someone.
I am referring to someone, who might have lost a loved one, is going through a divorce, dealing with depression or a chronic medical condition, has been jobless for months, or is dealing with a painful betrayal. It can be anything really, reasons don’t matter, it’s the pain, confusion, or fears, that sometimes, bring us to our knees.
So, my question to you is – how do you conduct yourself around a person, who has been experiencing troubled waters in life? What’s your style of being there for people?
And while you go within and find your answer, let me tell you what I have learned:
1.Give People Space:
We all are unique in our own ways and so are our ways of dealing with the curve balls life keeps throwing at us. Like some of us eat more when under stress, for some, their appetite goes for a toss when they are edgy about something.
Likewise, while some people reach out to their friends and family, when faced with difficult times, there is another type of people, like me, who prefer to go hermit instead; choosing solitude over connections.
And who are we to question others’ mechanisms to deal with life? No one, I suppose.
So, if you know someone, who isn’t responding to your calls or texts for some reason, don’t get worked up and resort to making assumptions. They may not have the energy to invest anywhere else at that moment.
Give them space, be patient, and wait for them to come back.
2. Let Them Know You Are There For Them:
Not a long time ago, one of my close friends went off the radar for some reasons. While she was trying to figure her way out of life’s uncertainty (existential crises is real, trust me!), which she chose not to tell anybody about, her friends were left clueless about her sudden absence.
Having shared a close bond with her, I knew something was wrong. I tried to reach out to her a couple of times, taking a break for a few weeks in-between, trying not to be too pushy in my efforts, but couldn’t get any response.
But I was concerned for my friend, so I did what I would have wanted the other person to do, had I been at her place. I dropped a message telling her – “that whatever it is that she was bothered about, I just wanted her to know that I am right here, whenever she is ready to talk.”
Well, I did receive a call, after a month, and the person on the other end of the call told me how happy she was to have a friend like me who understood, when many didn’t.
We all have to fight our battles, and some battles are only fought alone. At times, others don’t need our help as much as they need our understanding.
3. Don’t Push them To Snap Out Of It, It Doesn’t Work Like That:
The subject of Depression and Anxiety has been in the talks for a few years now, many celebrities have also come out to share their ordeal with the illness, but have we learnt anything from all these awareness drives or do we still let our ignorance, insensitivity, or opinions come in the way of truly being there for someone we care?
Because if we still think that people with depression are generally weak and that thinking positive, socializing, and keeping oneself busy, is the solution to their miseries, I’d say we aren’t quite there as yet.
If you have someone, who is going through life, don’t expect them to snap out of it overnight, things don’t work like that. Everyone processes grief, disappointments, or loss in their own way. Let them take their time to heal, be patient with them.
4. Choose Your Words Cautiously:
When I lost my mother, the last thing I wanted was to deal with the sea of people, who had turned up at our door. I just needed time to mourn the irrevocable loss with my family, but can we blame anyone, as this is how the society works.
Contrary to how we’d like things to be, there are times when somethings are inevitable. But using expressions like – I understand your pain, you have to be strong for your family, don’t worry, they are at a better place – aren’t helpful either.
We can’t really understand someone’s loss unless we ourselves have gone through it. And even if we have had a similar experience, it still might not feel the same way for them as it did for us.
I believe, the best way to show you care is by just being there for them. Sit quietly with the person, even better, offer to help with anything the person might need at that moment.
And if we can’t do without saying a few words, it’s better to say things like – “I can only imagine what you must be going through, or just know that I am here for you,” than what we actually say.
At the end of the day, the best way to be with people who are struggling in any way, is to reflect upon our own experiences. No one gets to escape the trials and tribulations of life, we all have been there.
How would have you liked to be talked to or cared for in those moments? What were the things done or said by others, which made you uncomfortable? The answer lies in there.
Before I leave, here are a few lines that resonated with me so well. They might, with you too…
“Next time I meet someone, who looks sad, I won’t ask them to smile, or promise them that they’ll get better; If I truly want to help them, I’ll try to let them know that, while I may not understand what they’re going through, I’ll be there if they need me.”
– Crazy About her, 2021