How do you know what to give?

There will come a time when you want to help someone but won’t know how. I’m learning that not all problems can be solved with money and volunteering, and then there are problems for which there is no solution at all…like when a friend is hurting.

I would imagine that the crisis of caring for a friend in need is one of the most universal problems on earth. If you haven’t been there yet, I can bet one day you will be. There will come that time when all you want to do is help, but you just don’t know how.

So how do you figure out what to give your friend? When my friend is hurting, does he need sympathy? Or is it compassion? It could be strength, or a safe space to talk, or a safe space to cry. When my friend is hurting would it help if I told the truth? Or does he need me only to listen? He could need company, or a hand to hold, or he could need time entirely alone. Or maybe he needs someone that isn’t you.

But people who are hurting don’t always tell you what they need, often times because they don’t it themselves. You may find yourself trying to figure it out, all by trial and error. And the errors may feel devastating, and you may feel like you’re making things worse, because you may, in fact, be making him feel worse.

I haven’t found the answer yet- possibly because there is nothing I can give to make things better. But I will give it another try and I will give him time. So it’s back to trial and error.


1 comment
  1. Sometimes, you can’t help. One of my dearest friends just lost her 21-year old son. It’s possible he took his own life. It’s not clear. There are no words. There is no help. His absence will now be the defining presence in their lives until forever. Not one of her wellmeaning friends can change that.

    I know this though: our presence matters. We can’t say the right thing. We can say the wrong thing. But being there matters. Being a friend might be the only thing. You give your heart. That’s what you give – and he knows that.

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