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11 Practical Ways To Help A Friend Whose Life Is In Shambles

It truly is the little things.

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When a friend is in crisis — whether it's to do with their health, relationship, family, or something else — it can be hard to know exactly how to help.

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And sure, simply asking a friend how they're doing is a thoughtful gesture, but verbal consolation isn't always as beneficial as we hope it might be.

So, here are some super practical ways to help a friend in crisis:

(But keep in mind that you know your friend better than anyone, so modify or use these tips as you see fit.)

1. Keep them occupied on Sundays so they don't face the Sunday Scaries alone.

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Simply keeping someone company — whether it's by listening to them, watching a movie with them, or helping them cook a meal — can help keep their mind off the impending work week. Because sometimes the most helpful thing you can do for someone who feels stuck in a dark place, is simply act as their 24/7 IRL hotline during their most vulnerable hour.

Read more on ways to soothe the Sunday dread here.

2. If you have a car, offer to drive them to and from their appointments.

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Simply transporting a friend from Point A to Point B for a legal or medical appointment, or helping them run errands, can help them out big time until they're capable of doing so on their own.

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3. Or just help them make those appointments in the first place.

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On an ordinary day, researching the best lawyer, therapist, or doctor can feel like a tedious task. For your friend who just endured an unthinkable loss or is going through a debilitating condition, on the other hand, the logistics of Internet research can feel paralyzingly overwhelming. Help them out by identifying the best contacts for whatever service they need, complete with the best phone numbers and times to call.

4. Help them relay any updates to their manager, family, or other people who may need to know about their situation.

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By acting as a middleman between your friend and others, you'll not only have freed up an hour of their time, you'll also have acted as their advocate and saved them from a potentially taxing conversation.

5. Ask them what level of communication they'd prefer during their recovery.

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Sure, your daily check-ins may have the best of intentions but sometimes, for whatever reason, people just aren't ready to engage after a time of hardship. To release them from the burden of drawing their own boundaries, take the proactive approach of asking them for their preferred level of privacy.

Try something along the lines of, "Hey, is it okay if I check in with you once a day? I know you're going through a lot, and I want to make sure I'm not adding to your stress by getting in touch too often."

6. Make them a feel-good, or feel-sad, playlist.

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Not all gifts have to come with a price tag! A playlist full of chill throwback tunes that soothe your friend, or simply remind them of a fun road trip you took last summer can be enough to reframe their days and help them overcome a mood slump. If you need some songs to get you started, you can go through Spotify's "Mood Booster" playlist.

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7. Drop off a bag of groceries that includes their favorite snacks.

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It's true, sometimes food is the best source of both physical and emotional sustenance. Fill a brown bag with healthy produce, freezer-friendly meals, and some of their favorite pre-packaged snacks, and simply drop it off at your friend's place. Even if they're not up for a proper visit and chat, the food will speak for itself.

8. Or arrange a Meal Train, so your friend has a constant flow of meals delivered to them.

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The idea behind a Meal Train is straightforward: One friend (that could be you!) sets up the plan by determining a length of time, food preferences, and plugging in all the logistical location and time information. Then, once the meal train kicks off, friends and family take turns delivering homemade meals that fit those preferences to the friend in need. And if your struggling friend isn't ready to be social, you can make a note of that too, so people know to simply drop off coolers at the porch.

Learn more about Meal Trains here.

9. Venmo them some cash they can use for whatever need that comes up.

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As my co-worker Rachel explains in this post, Venmo is a fantastic way to be there for someone when they're in crisis, in whatever way they need you to be there. You can send cash for Ubers, Seamless orders, wine, and snacks — anything that might make one of the worst days a tiny bit easier.

10. Tidy up their home a little, whether it's by doing a load of their laundry, or a quick sweep of their kitchen.

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You don't even have to make the clean-up a central part of your visit. Simply doing a load of dishes before you leave, or picking up a broom and sweeping up around the kitchen can do loads for your friend's feeling of calmness.

11. Or, if you're feeling extra ambitious, use Cameo to get one of their favorite influencers to make an encouraging video shoutout.

So, my sweet but unlucky friend @jessieevarts got hit in the face with a hockey puck and broke her cheekbone. But luckily @whats_ur_sign_ was kind enough to record a delightful message for her to get well soon ❤️ 🌹 https://t.co/VFGajkXicN

If you haven't heard of Cameo, it's basically a platform where "fans can request personalized video shoutouts from their favorite influencers, athletes, and celebrities." The catch is that the list of influencers is pretty slim and their favorite influencer might not be on it. But it actually works, at least according to my co-worker Brett, who recently tried it out! If anything, you can easily spend an afternoon together watching all the cameos posted on the site.

Learn more about Cameo here.