I have a friend who is going through a really rough patch right now. She is in the throws of a divorce, that while started out amicably, as much as that is possible, proceedings are turning sour. The divorce costs, the loss of the second income, and the general stress is reaching a breaking point for her. This is a smart lady who has always been able to ride the tide of life very well. She is the rock that others go to. She is finding it hard to reach out to others for help, whether it be for an extra driver for her daughters activities, car servicing, a ready made meal waiting for her, or just someone to talk to. While the romance part of her marriage, she feels has been gone for some time, she and her soon to be ex were each others best friends still, until he decided his life needed an overhaul. She lost the daily companionship. "Couldn't he have just bought a sports car? It would have been cheaper." she said recently.
I often get caught up in my own day to day business, assuming if she or others in a tough spot will reach out if needed. I myself would struggle with that too. We are raised in the Midwest that we need to be tough, stand on our own two legs, pull ourselves up by our boot straps. and those other jargony phrases that mean keep your pain to yourself. What are the best ways to support friends in need, particularly those not asking for help? How do you make sure to not just let your friend know you are there for them, care about them, but also actually do something without being invasive?
Concrete offers, I've found are best. The "call if you need anything" approach often means no call will come. I will continue to reach out-stop by with a cup of coffee, take her out for a happy hour or lunch, and just call and let her have my open ear. I know others are inserting themselves into carpooling circles, and friendly coworkers are helping to take a bit off her plate so as a now single mom, she can have those extra hours back in her day, get out of the office on time, and not be bringing work home. A friend swapped cars with her so her car could get in for servicing and she wouldn't need to take a day off work. Not one of us alone probably has the physical or mental resources to lift up all the needs of friends and family, but by offering what we have, my friends boat hopefully will feel a little stronger as she rides this tide.