Whenever one of my friends is sad or crying I’m just so awkward and don’t know what to do, I want to help them feel better but don’t know how.
Lifespan of a tree. Kind of makes me sad.
Daeral_Blackheart: If you’re listening to them, that’s more than enough, imo. Be attentive, whatever happens, don’t judge. You don’t need to advise em, you don’t need to come up with a solution, even. Just listen. It helps em to just be able to tell somebody.
But don’t judge. Be very very careful about that. You might do that unknowingly, and nothing could destroy a relationship like being judgemental.
If you disapprove of something, I’d *want* you to say that, not hide it. Don’t hide it. But I hope you’ve listened thoroughly and thought about it from another perspective hard, before saying that.
Just what I think.
brotogeris1: Learn how to listen. That’s the best thing you can do.
mathiasheath91: Buy them their favourite food. Or even better; Make it for them.
SentinelSquadron: Just so you know, I read “sand people…” that’s the Star Wars nerd in me…
As for comforting sad people, sometimes you don’t need to say anything to them…just be with them, hold them, heck even sometimes cry with them; be empathetic! 🙂
HowToBeAsian25: Listen, Ask if there is anything you can do to help, empathize, and encourage
dysrhythmic: Sometimes you just have to be there. Sometimes you just have to listen and maybe ask a bit. Sometimes it’s good to take someone’s mind off of things. Sometimes it’s a hug they need. Sometimes all of it together, other times just some privacy.
I’d wager lsitening is the way to go 90% of the time. You can always ask if you can help in any other way.
Source: I’ve been to therapy and people in therapy do tend to cry.
edit: I’ve personally fouind that trying to uderstand the other person (how they feel and why) is a good way to go, since then you have to listen. And if you don’t understand why that’s a problem, you can still understand how they feel. Also – you don’t have to help them feel better, being sad or angry is absolutely fine. People often like to run a way from feelings, but most of the time the only correct way is to go through them, accept them and let them go afterwards. They exist for a purpose.
I hope it makes sense.
Quadzah: There’s usually two cases when someone’s upset:
1. It’s not as bad as it seems (usually easier to deal with)
2. It is as bad as it seems, or is even worse.
I usually try to reassure them that things will get better etc. If that’s not appropriate a universal line I have is to say “it’s really brave of you to talk about this”. It’s a good line because I always mean it when I say it. Having at least one thing to say helps as it gives a sense of legitimacy to whatever the person is upset about.
Being sad can be healthy for people, but people are often embarrassed. Once you make them feel that their pain is legitimate that’s really the job done.
f3ckdepression: Practice attentive listening skills when someone sad is talking to you. This means demonstrating non verbally that you’re supporting them through open posture, maintain eye contact, sit close enough to them, maybe put an arm on their arm or just briefly touch them on their forearm if they’re having difficulty speaking or are getting more emotional. If the subject is serious, your body language should reflect the emotional tone. Always appear non judgemental and respectful. The goal when supporting someone who is sad is to help them feel validated and understood, and that you genuinely care about them.
When they speak, don’t interrupt. Leave space for them to talk. You don’t need the answers, just listen. Paraphrase their thoughts or feelings that they express, but be careful because this has the potential to appear unnatural if done inappropriately. Restate what they’re telling you in your own words. “You’re having a really hard time today because it’s the first Mother’s Day after your mom passed”.
Empathize with them, and discuss. using the same example above “that sounds really hard, you’re still grieving your mom and are feeling lonely after being reminded of your loss today [mothers day].
Ask them what they need, offer assistance. Literally “what can I do for you? Do you want some water?” Offer tissues, a hug (ask before). Offer to be a shoulder to cry on should the need arise, restate your support “I’m here for you, and I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to share [problem] with me”.
my_coding_account: When someone is sobbing, it helps most for me and other people I’ve talked to if you hold their hand or put your hand on their back and be very still and calm. rubbing your hand around or whatever is somewhat distracting. just be present, and recognize whether they are leaning into you or pulling away from you to get the right amount of touch. Like if they totally sink into your arms and collapse into you then hold them, but if they want to keep some distance that’s cool too. Be open to whatever they want to say.
NahidMuz: It really depends on the person, so I guess you’ll have to figure that out. I have friends who just want to talk and open up but won’t take any advice I have, then there are those who really want me to guide them on what their next step is, while there are some who just don’t want to talk.
The first two people I described have one thing in common, they want to be heard and they want a space where they aren’t judged or called out. While the last type of person I mentioned above just needs to be told that you’re there for them whenever they need it but don’t be too pushy.
minlo: The other answers are good, and part of the reason their good is I’d say that the most important thing is to be authentic, which can oddly enough take some time, because it can take some time to understand who you are, but fundamentally people know when you’re not being yourself and it makes them feel put off. Being self aware and observing how certain actions that you do land are also a part of it. Sort of like Daeral said, don’t judge. Most people aren’t authentically an asshole, and I would go so far as to say most people who are, are so because they haven’t really taken to the time to explore how they feel about said things.
But back to, “I want to help them feel better but don’t know how” Something to remember is that that is ultimately selfish, and about you, not about them. (Don’t feel bad, everyone makes this mistake) Remember a few things: You can’t actually make anyone else feel better, only they can make themselves feel better. In that vein, your job is just to listen and be yourself. Most others advice about this is pretty spot on. But the thing I would say, is not just don’t be judgemental, but also, don’t be dismissive. This is the toughest one, but the one I hate the most (when speaking to an adult) is to say “It’s not your fault”(there are of course exceptions). People say this all the time, but I think it often makes people feel like their not being heard, if there lived experiences is that they fucked up. This is where authenticity comes into play. Sometimes when I’m talking to someone who made a mistake, I’ll say directly “you messed that up….” (YMMV, this goes back to the whole be authentic thing, I wouldn’t pull this out as a level 1 move) but the point is, that I’m not accusing the person or trying to get them to realize something. I’m not really trying to do anything, I’m just making an observation. I’m acknowledging that they feel a certain way, and saying it in a casual way to emphasize that I’m with them, and I’ll usually follow it up with a story from my past where I fucked up, because I know that they’re not going to get over it just because I tell them to.
The point of which is, they may not want to get better, so don’t go into it trying to make them feel better. That makes it about you and your agenda. Just be with them, and try to understand where they’re at.
alm1ghty92: Tell them that you are there for them, if they need anything or they want to talk about their problems… Don’t intrude yourself to much, they will come to you and open when they feel comfortable enough.
And be good listener, before anything.