Most of us will, at some point of our lives, have a loved one go through a difficult period, where everything feels sad and difficult. If that happens, the best thing you can do is show them how much you care.
Sometimes people are reluctant to ask what’s going on in the lives of their loved ones, because they are afraid of making things worse or offending the other person. However, it is always much better to ask, than to pretend that nothing is happening. If you are not sure what to say, try something like, “I want you to know that I’d like to listen to you, if you want to talk. Maybe we can go for a walk in the evening?”
Think back to how you felt when you were depressed. You’ve experience it already, so you have some valuable insight. Could you help those around you, by supporting them and listening to them?
Conversations like that may be difficult, so here’s some advice:
- Take time to listen. Be patient and allow your loved one to talk more than you do.
- Demonstrate that you are listening and want to understand. Every now and again, repeat what the other person has told you, to make sure that you’ve understood correctly.
- Give the other person space and time to speak. Avoid using this opportunity to talk too much about your own stories and feelings.
- Provide recognition and support. Applaud the other person’s bravery, their willingness to address the problem and share their feelings with you.
- Cater to the other person’s needs, by helping them break up major problems into smaller sections, and then support them in addressing each step of the solution.
- Restrain yourself from providing input or advice. It is much more helpful to ask questions that can help the other person find solutions on their own.
- Look for the silver lining. Encourage the other person by eliciting all of their skills and reminding them of situations where they’ve been successful.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. There is always room for breaks, in a good conversation.
- Clarify expectations. Make sure you ask and understand what the other person expects from you.