I remember as a kid when a friend of mine was sad I would ask her “Are you OK?” and maybe offer her a piece of candy from my lunch box with a reassuring “it’ll be OK” pat on the back.
As adults, showing up for friends who are going through a hard time is much more complicated than when we were kids.
We are more consciously aware of overstepping our boundaries, navigating the politics of the situation, being overly sensitive and careful not to offend. The complexities of the situation sometimes have us too nervous about doing anything in fear that we will say the wrong things or inadvertently hurt their feelings by bringing the subject up.
It can also feel complicated as to how we should show up. After all, every person is different, and not everyone will appreciate an unannounced visit with casserole in hand while others want to be surrounded by as many people as possible. Yet, we shouldn’t let the fear of the delivery of our compassion hold us back from showing up when our friends and loved ones need it the most.
I’m here to say that something as small and simple as a phone call or texts CAN make all the difference.
By reaching out to let someone know you’re thinking of them with just a simple text message, you are providing them a small sense of comfort even if it doesn’t feel like it. That small gesture can then lead to further discussions about what you can do to help.
Perhaps you are going through one of these crises right now or your friend is facing a certain hard time …
I’ve been the recipient of other people’s thoughtfulness, and I can attest that ANY action other than silence makes a difference. Real-life experiences have proven to me that even the bare minimum of thoughtfulness does make a considerable impact.
When my husband deployed and when my mom was gravely ill in the hospital, I had friends who showed up with gifts and others who sent a text message to check in. It didn’t matter to me how they demonstrated they were thinking of me, what mattered was that they were thinking of me, and they let me know. And for that I’m eternally grateful.
During the deployment, I had friends and family who visited, but they weren’t there every day to lend a hand; it was all left to me. But even though my friends and family couldn’t be there each day to help, they showed up in ways I never expected, and that helped me considerably. From the “you’re so strong” comments on Facebook to the “just thinking of you, how are you?” text, I was reminded that I wasn’t entirely isolated. Through their actions, I was reminded that people were thinking of me and believed in my ability to persevere.
Some of my hardest days of getting through his deployment or navigating my mom’s care were the moments when my phone was silent the longest. Every card, text message, phone call, social media comment filled a void in my soul that needed support. It lifted my spirits to know that my life was worthy of someone else’s attention, even if it was just a few seconds out of their day to send me a message.
So, show up.
If you can’t be there with a casserole, it doesn’t make your presence any less significant to help a friend get through a hard time. Simply reach out with words of encouragement: send the text, make the phone call, show them that you’re there.