Have you ever received a call from a friend, at any time of day or night, where all you hear are sobs, and a crackling voice that says, “Can you come over?” You may hear more sobs, and some kind of mumbling that lets you know they are in distress. Your immediate reaction is to get the keys to the car, your purse, or wallet, and out the door, you go. Have you ever been in that situation? I have. Our instincts kick in, and we think of how we can help. However, our thoughts should be not how we can help, but how do they want us to help. From their perspective: They want us to stand by them, hold their hand, listen to their problem, not judge them, and kindly help them.
Stand by them
As a friend, we want to stand by them, but sometimes we want to do it on our terms. However, if our friend is the one that needs us, we should do it on their terms. That does not make them selfish. They are distressed. We are not. We need to understand that the situation may be complicated, and they are not sure how to resolve it. They just need someone to stand by their side while they sort things out.
Hold their hand
Holding hands is a gesture of care. Holding hands is a way to show them we share their pain, sadness, or any other emotion. For as far as I can remember, anytime someone held my hand, I always felt comfort, I felt safe, I felt acknowledged. Holding their hand can do just that.
Listen to their problems
Listening to their problems is important. We let them explain what they are going through and let it out. We are there to, not necessarily agree, or disagree, but to let them talk and know we are there for them. As we listen, we may want to put our two-cents in, but this is not the time. We need to hold our tongue, until they are ready for an opinion.
Please, do not judge them
A friend that calls and asks us to be there for them knows that we are the best person for that situation. They know that, we, as friends will stand by them, hold their hand and listen to their problem without judging them. If they wanted judgment, they probably called their sister or brother, not us. It is not easy to bite our tongue. There are times, I want to tell them the whole alphabet of things that could have prevented the situation, but that is not what they need to hear at this moment of crisis.
Kindly, help them
To help a friend in a crisis, or struggle we need to find out what they want us to do to help. As friends, we have the solution to their problem. Since we are outsiders to their situation, we can see with clear eyes how to solve it. Unfortunately, our friends may not be able to see things clearly. As we listen, they will provide us with a way they need help at this time. As long as we are not assisting them in anything that will cause harm to themselves or others, then do help.
As much as we do not want to see our friends suffer, we need to understand our role. When they call us because they need us by their side, we agree to be there in a supporting role. We may want to take charge and tell them how to resolve their problem, but this is not the time. Take the time to be there for them, on their terms. Accept your role and stand by them, hold their hand, listen to their problem without judgment and kindly, help them get over the situation. They will be grateful and you will be just what they needed, a friend.