How to Support a Friend Who’s Going Through a Rough Patch

Six simple things you can do to help your loved ones when they need it

Kolina Cicero


Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Let’s get really diplomatic about something quick: Life is weird. Some days are marvelous. Some days feel impossible, and those days can easily blur into weeks, sometimes months. When that happens, we need our community to be there for us to hold our hand and bring us back to the days we can marvel at. And when a dip like this happens to our friends, we need to be the ones reaching out our own hands.

Over the years, my friends and I have covered some rough terrain. Without one another’s generosity and support, those rough patches would have been exceedingly more difficult to trudge through. While my heart aches when my friends’ hearts ache, I find a lot of joy coming up with ways to make them feel loved; to show them that, while I am not going through the same thing they are, I will walk through it with them, hand-in-hand.

It can feel harrowing when someone you love is hurting. We think there’s nothing we can do; we feel helpless to change the situation. It’s true, we may not be able to change what they’re going through, but there are many things we can do to impact the well-being of our friends when they need it the most.

Here are a few things I’ve done for friends going through a rough patch:

A basket of feel-good goods

In my little circle of friends, we’ve done several of these — and I’ve received a few myself. My best friend of twenty-three years is the queen of this, and I learned this skill from her. Almost always, she will include a cozy blanket that is so delicious you’ll want nothing more than to wrap it around yourself in a tight cocoon. It’s an immediate comfort.

Other elements you could consider when pulling together a basket of feel-good goods, in addition to comfort, are taste (a treat like chocolate or a bottle of sparkling water or other delicious beverage); pampering (single-use face masks, little hand lotions, and lip balms are affordable ways to help your friend luxuriate); and entertainment (a book or game).