By Leah Brignall
Unfortunately, most people will have a friend whose loved one receives a serious diagnosis. People often have a hard time figuring out how to react when their friend finds out. How do you support someone who has a loved one going through such a difficult time? What do you say? How do you navigate their emotions to best help them?
Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D. have written the article Helping a Friend Whose Loved One Is Seriously Ill, which outlines some steps you can take to give your best support. The first thing they recommend you do is think about what your friend needs, not what you would need. You are different than your friend, so the things that make you feel better could also be different. Communicating that you are there to support your friend is the next step. Many times they do not need you to say anything, they just want someone to listen. Just being available to listen without judgement will let them know you care. You can also help by trying to lift their spirits. Invite them to participate in a fun activity or event. They do not have to be constantly serious and neither do you! Lastly, if you think that your friend needs professional help, recommend that they see a therapist or doctor. They will probably appreciate the fact that you care!