Old Friends and Connections
On a recent trip to the UK I was yet again shown how it is the relationships and connections that we make in our lives that add richness, fulfilment and ultimately define who we are. I miss my friends, my chosen family, with a depth that can only be described as pain. What makes it harder, is that I live so far away from them, but each time we see each other, time has stood still and we slip back into the old grooves of our long friendship. You can share secrets, desires, struggles on a level that makes you so vulnerable yet unconditionally accepted and then be even closer than before.
Life Changing Events
With age comes experience and learning to live through a life changing event will strengthen any friendship. And, my goodness, we have had a few of those. I realise that as we grow older it is more likely that we will have lived through some trauma or event that changes everything. But seriously, here are some of the things that my friends have had to face over the last 6 years: death, autism, breast cancer, divorce, child abuse, breakdowns, ADHD, lung cancer, post-natal depression, debilitating anxiety, cystic fibrosis, domestic violence, thyroid cancer, affairs…..
As a couple of these have featured in my life, I hands-down, could not have got through without the unwavering support of my friends and some connections I have made along the way. Once you realise you are not on your own, or you are being “looked after” by someone then you can melt into being supported and concentrate of finding your way though.
Top 5 Tips
So here are my top 5 tips for being there for your friend through their crisis:
- Just be there for them
There is no script for what life event your friend maybe going through, just be there for them. Say you are thinking of them. Send them an inspirational quote on facebook. I have a friend who just messages me kisses when she is thinking of me and vice versa. It is lovely to know that someone somewhere is thinking of you.
- Be practical
Don’t ask what they need just do it. Organise food to be delivered. Look after the kids for a few hours. Send a spa voucher. We will never say what we need, it’s just not polite!
- Go to appointments
Clear your diary so you can go with to appointments with your friend. I had someone with me on my initial diagnosis session. Very lucky thing too, as I was in such shock I had no recollection of the appointment and the advice I was given. They may as well have been speaking French to me!
Do some research about what your friend might be facing. Don’t assume you know what it’s all about, and that unless you have been through it you probably don’t know exactly how they feel. There are lots of facebook groups and forums where people can give you some much needed insight.
- Take their mind off it
Suggest things to take your friends mind off it all for a couple of hours. What Netflix series can the binge watch? What good books are about? Maybe even audio books depending on concentration levels. Go to a show or see a comedian to forget all about it.
Even though this event is happening to your friend, it affects you deeply too. Don’t be afraid to make that connection, ask them how they feel, cry with them, send them a card, tell them they are doing a great job! During this time I had many talk to me about something difficult happening in their own lives and then immediately they felt guilty, but the truth is you need to hear what else is going on to keep some perspective. Tell your friend you are there and they will let you in.
We have the ideal gifts to show someone that you love them.