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There are few things in life more painful than watching the suffering of someone you love. Even worse, if you don’t have the tools or information to help, you feel lost. Sometimes, you can do nothing but watch him or her drift away from you. If you’ve ever had extreme challenges, you know it can be difficult to ask for help or even admit that there is something wrong. So, how do you support a hurting loved one without creating a wedge or resentment? Even if it seems hopeless, there are things that you can do. Here are a few ways to help and support a loved one in need.
Empathize Without Pity
If a loved one is going through a tough time, he or she likely doesn’t want your pity. Pity can make someone feel small and ashamed. If they feel ashamed of what they’re struggling with, they are far less likely to seek out help or accept your support. Make sure you listen to them. Show them that you really are trying to understand what they’re going through. Just don’t put yourself above them or act like you feel sorry for them.
Suggest Possible Solutions
Difficult situations, like mental, emotional, or medical conditions can evoke a sense of panic or hopelessness. Your loved one may not be able to see any solutions to the problem. You can offer that to them with gentleness and sincerity. Try to guide them to the support they need without being controlling or pushy. In the case of needing counseling for depression or support for recovery from alcohol abuse, your assistance could save your loved one’s life. You will need to assess the situation and decide how serious it is and what course of action to take. I’ve had multiple situations with my children and adult friends and family and know that our input can either help or it can create unnecessary stress. It would help to do research in advance, so you can give quality information.
Offer Noncontrolling Support
Offering support without trying to control someone is crucial when handling some situations. An exception to this might be if you’re dealing with a minor who is in danger of hurting him or herself or someone else. Again, you must get a full scope of the situation to know what course of action is needed.
Generally, if you try to control an adult child or loved one, you run the risk of alienating him or her. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just offer your support without trying to fix the problem. Let them know that you’re there. Try to help them feel less alone. Isolation and loneliness are two of the most harmful things for someone who is going through something difficult. Make sure they know you’re not abandoning them.
It’s tempting to sugar coat things when someone is going through something awful, especially if the loved one is a child. If you are dealing with a minor, be honest without drama or panic. Anyone, at any age, going through a hard time simply wants to know that you are there and that things will be OK.
Also, avoid not taking it seriously. Everyone wants to be heard. Avoidance or down-playing a condition or situation could make him or her feel as though you are not listening. This can often just make your loved one feel even worse, as it suggests that they’re to blame for the way that they’re feeling. The best thing you can do is be honest with them. Let them know you understand how hard it is. Don’t pretend that working through their problems will always be easy. Let them know that, even though they might have a long, difficult road ahead of them; you’ll be with them every step of the way.
Take Care of Yourself
If you’re miserable and exhausted, you won’t be able to take care of someone else the way you would want to. Don’t let your duty to your loved one prevent you from taking care of yourself. Making sure that you’re still taking care of your personal well being is one of the most important things you can do. It also shows the value of self-care and how important it is to do what’s right concerning your health.