When a friend or loved one is going through a difficult time, it can be hard to know how to approach them or what to say. Even sending an ‘I’m thinking of you’ card or text can be difficult because it might raise more questions about how you should actually frame the message.
Keep reading and we’ll give you the top 10 tips on how to strike up a conversation with a friend who’s going through some tough times, whether you’re sending a thoughtful card or seeing them in person.
“You’ve been in my thoughts recently”
Letting your friend know you’ve been thinking about them can help them realize that they’re not alone. It’s a great way to start a conversation or begin a greetings card message.
Telling them they’ve been in your thoughts recently lets them know they have people they can rely on and turn to whenever they’re ready to talk. Simply being there for a friend that’s going through a tough time can make a big difference.
Make sure you check up on your friends whenever you’ve gone for long periods of not speaking – especially if it’s out of the ordinary.
“I miss you”
If your loved one hasn’t been able to face social outings recently, perhaps due to illness, let them know you miss them and will be ready to hang out or talk as soon as they’re feeling up to it.
If the reason you’ve not seen each other for a while is because they’re suffering with their mental health, then getting in touch can help them feel more connected to the outside world. They may feel that no one even remembers them, or cares enough to contact them, so sending a card or message telling them you miss them can be really helpful.
“You’re the strongest person I know”
Your friend is much stronger than they probably know. Remind them how tough they can be. Tell them about the times they helped you through a dark period of your life, and how they managed to make it through many of those times themselves.
Remind them that they can take anything life throws at them. It might seem hard now, but they may have been through worse and it will eventually get better. Just be sure not to pressure them. Let them know they can take all the time they need to get through it and you’ll be there for them while they do.
‘I’m here whenever you need me’
Being there for your friend is really important when they’re going through a tough time. It’s great telling them ‘I’m here whenever you need me’, but it means nothing if you don’t mean it or follow through with it.
Be sure to let your loved one know they can talk to you whenever they want to, but keep chatting to them normally in the meantime. If they want to talk they will, so there’s no need to keep reminding them.
‘I’m sorry for your loss’
Losing someone close to you is one of the toughest things a person can go through. There are no right answers when it comes to dealing with grief, and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do from the outside to help.
Sometimes simply telling your friend how sorry you are for their loss is enough to remind them they’re not alone. Remind your friend how loved that person was in life and how they will be dearly missed by so many people. Ask about the great memories they shared with them, and mention the amazing ways that person made you feel whenever you met or spoke to them.
‘Let’s meet up’
Meeting up with your friend when they are going through a loss or a tough time is incredibly helpful. They might be completely reassessing how their world works and it’s so easy for them to hide away. Encourage them to meet up and go for a drink or get food together – reassure them that not everything is lost and that the world will keep turning.
Take them somewhere where talking isn’t a necessity, like a hiking trail, or the movies. Be there for them, but if they’d rather keep busy take their cue and go along with it. If they start to act like their normal selves, don’t assume their pain has vanished. Remember to remain at their side, because the tough days will still come and knowing they can rely on you will be a massive help.
If your loved one isn’t ready to get out into the world yet, sending a card with a gift to let them know you’ll be there when they are is a great first step.
‘We will get through this together’
Going through a hard time can make you feel completely isolated from the world. You can think that no one would give you a second thought, or be able to understand how you feel. Knowing that others have been through the same things can be really comforting.
Let your friend know you’re there for them, and that you’ll help them get through whatever problems they’re facing. You can get through more together than you can apart. If you’ve gone through similar tough times, then tell them how you made it through and that they were one of the people who helped.
‘I want to remind you what an incredible person you are’
Tough situations can leave people with a completely deflated ego, and a total loss of self-worth. They retreat into themselves and might think the situation they’re in is their fault because they weren’t ‘strong’ enough.
Remind your friend just how incredible and important they are, or how helpful they were when you were going through a tough time. Tell them about all the great things they’ve done and how loved they are by so many people.
A simple ‘Hello’
After thinking about all the different ways you can get in contact with your friend, remember that a simple ‘hello’ is better than nothing at all. It could mean the world to them, by reassuring them that they aren’t in this alone.
Be consistent, but don’t pressure them. They may not want to reply to you yet and by sending multiple messages you could increase the stress they’re under. Just remember to check in every now and again and don’t get offended if it seems like they are ignoring you.
For when you don’t know what to say
Sometimes there are no words that can help and we simply don’t know what to say. You don’t need to avoid the topic altogether, but you could try to start a conversation about something unrelated and take their mind off their current problems. Talk about that new movie or video game that’s coming out and how excited you both are for it. Anything that can redirect their feelings away from what’s making them feel down will work.
You likely won’t be able to help your friend all by yourself. There are so many things that go into working through grief and hard times, and neither you nor they can get through it alone. The biggest thing you can do is be there for them. Keep reminding them that when they are ready, you will be there.
If you can’t think of anything to say, sending a personalized card to remind them of your happy times together, the loved one they lost or the many future memories to be made is a great first step in supporting them.