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Supporting a Friend Through Difficult Times


Some of the best friendships are created in unexpected ways. In every relationship, people will experience a series of highs and lows. But what makes the friendship the strongest is going through the lows, together. In life, we all experience difficulties, whether it is financial, relationship, career, or even health. It’s important to have a community or even a friend to be around going through a difficult time. 

Over time, people go through the motions and usually use comforting words to help, however that is not always enough. Sometimes life throws a curveball and traumatic events occur. Your friend lost a loved one, or your friend is going through a divorce. How do you support a friend who is going through a traumatic event? The method of comforting a friend always does not apply in this situation. 

According to Trauma Informed Care in Behavioral Health  Services, “Survivors’ immediate reactions in the aftermath of trauma are quite complicated and are affected by their own experiences, the accessibility of natural supports and healers, their coping and life skills and those of immediate family, and the responses of the larger community in which they live.” As friends, we feel sometimes obligated to be each other’s therapists, however, we do not always have the right resources.  So, if you have a friend dealing with trauma in their life, how do you support them? 

1. Listen

Listening is so important in a friendship. Not listening and really valuing the person’s feelings can really make the person come off as self-centered. By really listening and following what the person has to say, can really show how much you care for your friend. Be careful not to interrupt the person while they are talking, this may make the person feel bad.


2. Provide love and support

When a friend is going through an emotional state, it is important to provide your love and support as much as possible. Show your friend that you care for them by listening to them and still being in their lives. It is also important to check in with them, send them a text or phone call just to see how they are. 

3. Tune into your feelings

Even though it may not seem like it, it is so important to check in on how you are feeling too. Your feelings determine your relationship with this friend. If you are feeling a lot of negative energy, it will reflect in your personal life as well. When a friend is affecting your own thoughts and feelings, it is okay to pull back a little and give each other space. 

4. Set boundaries

When it comes to any kind of relationship, setting boundaries is so important. According to Dr. Tracy Hutchison, “Boundaries are the basic guidelines that people create to establish how others are able to behave around them.” Even if you have never had a friendship with boundaries before, it is always important to start small. Starting small is just a start and eventually, the friendship will become more mature and healthy. 

5. Remind them you will always be there

When it comes to friendship, a true friend will always be around no matter the situation. Reminding your friend that what they are going through in the moment will not affect your friendship or relationship is so important. This will help the friend have a constant reminder that you will always be in their life and you will always support them. 

Helping a friend who is experiencing trauma in their life can be tough. You may be experiencing trauma or troubling times yourself. We all do from time to time, however, being able to walk through a storm together and show resilience will only make the friendship and bond closer than ever before.