When you find out that someone you know is going through a crisis and you want to support them, make contact call, email offer to visit. People in crisis often feel alone and isolated and appreciate when others reach out to them.
Think of yourself as a vessel filled with love and support that you are offering out. Recognize any feelings that you might have about the situation and try to not have them interfere with your ability to show up for your friend. Keep your personal stories to yourself, along with any judgments or criticisms you might have.
Be careful about saying, “I know how you feel.” When people are reeling from their own feelings, they think that you can’t possibly understand their experience unless you have actually been there.
People in crisis can feel completely out of control and can benefit from making choices. Rather than insisting on a course of action, offer your friend some options to select from. Even simple ones matter, as in, “Would you like to go now or later?”
Suggest tasks you might take on such as making calls or doing errands. Be observant to see what is needed, and ask if you can assist. Especially focus on what children involved may require.
There are no rules about how people should react to crises. Your friend may feel numb, intensely emotional, or anywhere in between. All reactions are
If your friend is suicidal or highly irrational, don’t hesitate to suggest professional help. Every community has a suicide hotline, and 911 is always available.
A person in crisis may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when the event first happens. Hold your friend’s hand, look her in the eye, and say, “You will get through this,” or, “This too shall pass.” She may not believe you at the time, but it will be helpful to hear.
Your friend may need to tell the story many times or may still be emotional weeks after you would have begun to move on. Respect that everyone’s process is unique. However, if, after giving it plenty of time, you think your friend is stuck in the trauma, you might gently ask, “How do you see yourself getting through this?”
In the first few days of a crisis, even the most minimal functioning may seem impossible. Be very gentle in encouraging your friend to take a shower, get dressed, eat regular meals, and take a short walk. If you know of self-care activities your friend enjoys, such as yoga or going to the gym, suggest these as well, being careful not to sound pushy.
Nighttime is often the hardest time for people in crisis. Call in the evening to check in. Communicate empathy regarding how difficult a time it is.
People can easily become exhausted while supporting someone through a crisis. Pay some attention to your own needs so you can be replenished. Take breaks, breathe, and get support for yourself. Often, at the beginning of a crisis, many people are available to help and support. Over time, people tend to forget and return to the rhythm of their lives. Keep your friend in the forefront of your mind, and check in in the weeks or months ahead.