Most of us intuitively know it’s important to be supportive during troubling times, and yet it can be challenging despite our best efforts. Our friends, neighbors, loved ones, colleagues, and community members are facing a myriad of issues from health, unemployment, financial to mental health. You might reach out to them and get a response, and other times, no response.
When someone is facing a daily crisis, they often do not have time or energy to answer queries. But that doesn’t mean that your emails, phone calls, or text messages are not appreciated. In fact, it’s possible your outreach helps them pull themselves together to face another hour or make it through the day.
At one time I faced a crisis. Friends and family were eager to keep in touch, and I was too overwhelmed to talk or return messages. I asked everyone to text me, and that way my phone alerted me to messages and the message remained on my screen until I opened my phone. I got text messages in the morning that asked how the evening before went and text messages before bed that queried how the day had gone. Each message made me feel less isolated, kept me connected, and helped me cope. This is a helpful approach that is not intrusive. Periodically send text messages that say: “Thinking of you,” “Miss you,” or “I'm here for you.” Don't expect a response and you won't be disappointed when you don’t get one. Your ultimate goal is to be supportive.
A friend took a different tact when her mom faced terminal cancer. She sought indirect support by updating everyone through Facebook posts. While many people are uncomfortable putting such personal details on social media, some find solace, as did my friend. Her Facebook friends who were uncomfortable with public posting reached her privately through Facebook Messenger. The many heartwarming responses comforted my friend, and when her mom died, the online community continued to rally around her.
We have many forms of communications that make it easy and less intrusive to reach others. Continue to seek out ways to stay in touch during difficult times as your efforts truly show you care.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.