It’s important to remember that people may respond differently to a traumatic or stressful event, and that’s okay. If you notice a friend or fellow Buff is struggling, here are some things you can do:
Start the conversation
It can be hard to talk about our struggles, especially if it seems like others are doing okay. If you notice that someone may be going through a difficult time, reach out. Everyone needs support sometimes.
Remember that when someone shares that they’re struggling, it’s important to listen to them without expressing judgement or offering advice. Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is sit with them through the challenging moments. Ask about and acknowledge their feelings and let them know you’re there for them. This may sound like:
- “It sounds like you’re struggling a lot with that.”
- “How can I help?”
- “I care about you, and I’m here for you.”
- “That sounds like a scary experience, and it makes sense that you feel that way.”
Normalize their feelings
Normalize and validate their feelings. This doesn’t mean that you’re normalizing the bad thing that happened, but instead you’re affirming that their response to it is understandable. People respond to difficult or traumatic situations differently. However someone is feeling or acting is normal. This may include laughing, crying, anger, numbness or other responses.
When someone shares an experience or feeling that we understand, it may feel easier to relate and empathize. However, it’s also important to show compassion in times when we don’t necessarily understand what someone is going through. If someone comes to you for support, avoid expressing judgment about why they feel a certain way or how they are handling the situation. Feeling judged won’t change what is happening for them, and it may keep someone from seeking additional support.
If you talk with a friend about a difficult or traumatic experience, be sure to follow up with them or check in to see how they’re doing. It can be helpful to schedule a regular call with a family member or friend to check in on a consistent basis. Let each other know how you’re doing, what is going well and what you may need support with. It can be helpful to write down a list together of who you would reach out to if you were in a crisis or felt suicidal. By doing this, you can identify people for yourself and show them that you are someone they can reach out to.
Here are a few examples of ways to check in with a friend or loved one:
- “You are so important to me, and I love you. I am here for you.”
- “I understand you may not be ready now, but I’m here for you if you want to talk.”
- “I hope you’re doing okay. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.”