How to be a friend to those who are hurting


To be honest, I feel quite ill-equipped to be writing about such a topic … I don’t see myself as an outstanding friend, nor one whom many would even call their best friend. However, when contemplating how to write on such a significant subject, I quite sombrely thought to myself that perhaps that’s just it … perhaps few of us feel like we are anything special, like we have little / nothing to give and even doubt our abilities to be a friend when our loved ones are hurting. Hence why more often than not, we are not good friends when it is needed the most…

Those that know me know that I am not the best at subtlety when it comes to speaking truth and that I frequently say “I’m surprised I have any friends at all”! It’s because of comments like the following that this statement rings true…

The hard truth is that being a friend to those who are hurting has nothing to do with you.

It has nothing to do with your feelings, insecurities and doubts – and has all to do with the other person. I know I know … it’s harsh … but it’s true. When one of your friends is journeying through a season of hurt or pain in their life, when they have just lost a loved one, a job, a pet, etc …it is quite simply your responsibility to love and to keep loving – over and over and over again.

What does this look like you ask? It looks like a text, a phone call, a card, a meal, an uninvited coffee delivery, a weeding of their garden, a silent hug, a cleaning of their car etc etc... it looks like anything that makes their world a little easier to handle.

What It doesn’t look like is getting offended when they don’t reply to your text, or becoming frustrated when they process their grief differently to you…

A very dear friend of mine (who happens to also be living with us) just recently lost her mother to cancer, and this one day my husband and I had had (what we perceived to be) a really tough day. We came home and were niggling at each other, dinner needed to be cooked, the house needed to be cleaned, the washing was piled up etc etc.

I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated when all of a sudden my husband took me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and said “we think of others and we love others over and over again. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. Our bad day is nothing compared to the pain she is experiencing … we have so much to be thankful for”. And with that my world turned upside down. My mentality flicked, my attitude shifted and my heart softened … and at the core of loving someone else who is hurting … that’s all it is –it is thinking of others before yourself and putting their needs before your own.

It’s not rocket science is it? Yet so many of us get bogged down by the weight of “saying the right thing” or “doing the right thing” … that we forget to say anything or do anything.

You may not think you have anything to give, or that you’re not the best friend … well I am here to tell you that as long as you have the capacity to put another before yourself – you are a brilliant friend and exactly what your loved one needs at this time. Perspective is a marvellous thing isn’t it … it helps keep us in check when we are thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought.

No, you may not know the right thing to say, and no, you may not know what to do … but I guarantee you that as soon as you put yourself in their shoes, you will know what to do.  Please do not misunderstand me … I am not advising to ‘love’ someone at the detriment of your own health or your family’s – that is foolish, unwise and unsustainable. But what I am simply saying is to consider their wellbeing above your own. Their season of grief is not going to last forever… and thank God that they trust you enough to allow them into their world of intimate friendships! What an awesome privilege and opportunity you have to be there for them, just as you know that they would be there for you if (and when!) you experience change, loss or grief.  

So I guess in surmise … what makes me a good friend? My God given ability to love and serve others even when everything within me wants to crawl up onto a selfish ball and cry.

What makes you such a good friend? Your willingness and desire to help – even when you’re not sure what to say or do…

So stop overthinking and simply put yourself in their shoes. That’s all it takes to love our loved ones when they’re hurting.


By Angelica Klein-Boonschate

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