People 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 me/us, but now is a time to take care of yourself as well.”
When someone is going through a difficult experience, they might not be able to justify a much-needed break. Help them by letting them know that you’d like to take over some responsibilities while they tend to their needs. I know someone who orders food, makes appointments, and checks in daily with somebody going through a hard time. It makes a big difference.￼
If you’re far away from a loved one, and can’t be there in person, consider sending a care package with food or some of their favorite things, in addition to a personal message of support.
2. Remind your person of something kind they did for you.
They 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.”
These are powerful words.
Depending on the nature of your relationship with, there’s a good chance this important person would love to hear that you’re proud of the way they are dealing with a painful experience.
4. “My job is to make your life easier right now. This is how I’m going to do it. Does that work?”
People need to support each other when one is in pain. However, if you only ask a loved one “How can I help?” when they are struggling, they might not actually let you know. Instead, offer to make their life easier during this painful time in specific ways.
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 they have the strength to overcome it.
6. “You’ve got a lot on your plate. Can we set a time to chat every week?”
You can suggest a specific time each week when they can call you to vent. Some of my patients tell me this gives them an area to vent, cry, and be able to process their week.￼
7. “Remember when you were there for me? It’s my turn to do the same for you.”
Most friends going through hard times often feel better when someone reminds them that they’ve been a big help in the past. It’s easier to except help when you realize that you are not a victim, and that you have been strong in the past.￼
Let your friend know you want to support them by reminding her of a specific time when they 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.”
Go the extra mile by wearing your heart on your sleeve. Tell your friend what their friendship has meant to you, and why helping in any way possible is very important to you.
What to Say to an Acquaintance or Colleague Who’s Going Through a Rough Patch
￼When I had a beloved dog who passed away, I had colleagues at work who pulled together to help me with all of the vet appointments and the loss itself. ￼
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 their time.
Your colleague might stress about work and wonder who will be handling all the responsibilities until they get 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 they got unexpectedly laid off. There’s a 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 feel safer and better.