How to truly help a friend in need

How to truly help a friend in need


When the going is good and the laughs keep rolling, it’s easy to smile and giggle through the joys of life with our sisters. But when the going gets tough and a friend is suffering how do we help them in their hour of need? How do we offer support even though we might feel terrified or uncertain inside?

In recent years when a dear friend of mine was going through cancer I reached out to offer support in whatever way I could.

The initial shock of her diagnosis didn’t deter or immobilse me – it empowered me to be the best friend I could be in her many hours of need.

So how did I help when the situation seemed helpless? I reached inside and found the best parts of myself and offered them to her.

I talked to her (because I love to yabber).

I listened to her (because there’s nothing more important).

I wrote to her (because it’s a gift I can give from the heart).

I encouraged her to smile in whatever ways I could.

I asked my kids to draw her pictures.

I created a book of positive words (for her to read whenever she needed).

I sent her cute gifts.

I emailed her joyful YouTube clips .

The ways we offer support are limited only by our imaginations.

Whether someone you know is grieving the death of a loved one, is separated from a partner, is suffering from illness or otherwise, there are many things you can do to support a sister. Some examples include:

  • Ask her directly how you can help.
  • Listen and acknowledge her feelings.
  • Be patient and let her tell her story in her own time.
  • Help her prioritise self-care.
  • Phone her regularly to check in.
  • Write her caring letters/emails.
  • Send her care packages (e.g. bath salts, chocolates, tea bags).
  • Read her a beautiful passage from your favourite book.
  • Offer to take her out.
  • And remember that everyone heals differently – her way may be different to yours.


There are also some excellent positive healing resources online that can help in times of distress.

Clinical psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D developed a method called TEARS – “Talking, Exercising, Artistic expression, Recording or writing experiences, and Sobbing” – to help individuals cope with their emotions, particularly with grief. “These five things can give us something to do when feeling overwhelmed by life stress,” Hibbert explains.

Read her full article here.

It’s never too late to help a friend in need – pick up the phone and offer a sister support!

Mary Cryan

Mary Cryan

Mary is a visual and verbal communications specialist with a passion for writing, designing and inspiring others. She operates a small graphic design business, writes a blog and motivates as many people as she can along the way. Her life is a never ending work in progress and she wouldn’t have it any other way because SHE is in charge of her destiny! Visit her motivational blog at
Mary Cryan

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  1. Kirsty

    23 July

    What lovely advice. This is timely, particularly when there is so much heartache in the lives of so many. Sometimes, one just doesn’t know what to do when the life of someone they love is in complete disarray. Onward and upward they say, but it’s always nice to have an understanding friend. I’m all about sharin’ the love xxx

  2. Mary Cryan

    24 July

    Thanks for your kind words Kirsty. I agree it’s all about sharin’ the love – let’s keep it going Sista!!!

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