Sometimes it takes something awful happening to you to find out which friends know the true meaning of the word

Some people think that to be a true friend they have to cheer you up or try to solve your problem for you, that they have to ‘do’ something to fix you.  The reality is that often there isn’t anything anyone can do.  Here are some examples of events that no one can fix for you:

  • your husband/wife/sweetheart has told you they don’t love you anymore and has walked out
  • your child is addicted to drugs
  • your sibling/child/partner/parent has been convicted of a crime and been sent to jail
  • you have been declared bankrupt
  • someone very dear to you has died
  • your house has been repossessed
  • you’ve been fired from your ideal job


When things like this happen there is usually very little anyone can do to make it better.  What you need is a friend who will just be there for you, listen to you, commiserate with you and let you be as angry, sad, devastated as you need to be until you’re ready to re-engage with life again.

It can be uncomfortable knowing you can’t make things better for a dear friend but unless they ask for your advice, offering solutions is rarely the right thing to do.  Of course it’s okay to say, “I hate that I can’t make this better.  Is there anything I can do that might help?” But unless your friends says yes there is, it’s best to just let them ramble on for as long as it takes.


Often you just need to sit with them and not say anything at all, but it’s useful to make empathic noises such as mmmm or uh-huh or repeat back to them something they’ve said (“you’re devastated/angry/scared”), so they know you have really been listening to them.  This is actually the best thing you can do because once they know they have been heard, it’s easier to get to a place where they can start thinking about how they’re going to manage life from now on.


Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: