Speechless aka #nowords

Have you noticed that you don’t need to look far to find someone dealing with some significant challenges lately? In recent months I’ve watched three friends battle breast cancer, another deal with end stages of life for a parent, and have other friends who have had to deal with natural disasters. I’ve also had conversations with other friends weighed down by incredible life challenges. When life hits hard, we can find ourselves speechless, feeling like there just aren’t words strong enough to say to be of any support.

5 things you can do when you don’t know what to say:

1. Do “daily” things.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a delivered dinner, you know the relief it brings. Freeing a struggling friend from daily “chores” is a great way to make a difference. Resist the urge to say “If you need anything, let me know.” Most people will never let you know, even if they really need help. Make a specific offer – hey, I’d like to bring dinner over for you and your family Monday, would that be ok? Or, I need to pick up Sarah at practice can I pick up Lizzy too? People are more receptive of help when you offer a suggestion of how you could assist them. And, if you don’t know what to cook for dinner, why not give them an encouraging card with a gift certificate to a restaurant in their town. Then, they can use it on a night when they need it most.

2. Be speechless and just listen.

It can be harder than it sounds, but just listen – listen without attempting to solve or offer advice. Often when people are struggling, well intending friends and family “advice” them to death. When attempting to console or even encourage someone, they share of the time Aunt Matilda dealt with the same thing. People don’t always share with you because they want a solution. They may simply share to vent. Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend is to be a friend by just listening.

3. Be an escape.

Dealing with a difficult chapter can be a marathon rather than a sprint. Sometimes we can make a difference for a friend by allowing them to temporarily escape from the daily living in the midst of the struggle. You can take your friend to a movie, take them outlet shopping, for a hike, or take in something that your local area is known for. Often when people are dealing with a big issue, everyone wants an update and wants to talk about “it.” Sometimes our friends and family want a break from whatever “it” is and would love to talk about any other topic. Be an available escape buddy if that’s what your friend needs most.

4. Don’t disappear.

Struggles that come in the form of a challenging season often come with a wave of support when they begin but eventually the support wanes. Drop your friend a card after their 6th chemo or help celebrate the progress in some other way. Long battles can usher a wave of support when they begin only to have friends become far more silent as they step back to let you “deal” with the situation at hand. Find a balance

5. Get creative.

The sky is the limit for creativity in supporting your friends or family through tough times. When I had my open heart surgery, my coworkers wrapped several small fun gifts and put them in a basket. The encouraged me to open a gift on any day that I wanted or needed a pick me up. You could make a collage of word or photos, make a card or knit a shawl to keep them warm. If your friend is going through a challenge that is financially burdensome, your creativity could lead you down the path of creating a Go-Fund-Me page to assist with the costs associated with their difficulties. Pray about it, think about it, and then find a way to make a difference and be the good!

It’s your turn:

Who in your world needs encouragement? Is there a situation in the life of someone near you that has left you speechless, wishing you had the “right words?” Maybe it’s not words you need to search for but instead consider how you can be the sunshine on their cloudy day. Be the friend that they desperately need as they walk their difficult journey. And the next time you find yourself speechless looking for words, remember actions speak louder than words. Let your support be something your friends see and feel.

How do you encourage others when you fee speechless? Click to comment and share your ideas too!

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Until next time friends, be the good!