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How to support a friend

Nina Spitzer is a columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

When times are tough

"In good time, in bad times, you'll be at my side forever more. That's what friends are for." - Burt Bacharach

When times are toughI like to believe it's the tough times that bring out the best in people. It's when we step up to the plate and make a difference. Maybe a friend is going through some rough times. She may be depressed over a divorce or the loss of a job. She may be grieving over the loss of a friend or family member. She may be dealing with serious illness or an abusive relationship. Sometimes, finding the right words to say is difficult. The old adage, "Actions speak louder than words," however says it all.  Being there. Listening. Offering moral support. Helping out with the little things. It's these actions that make all the difference in the world when times are tough and we want to support a friend.

"I get by with a little help from my friends." — The Beatles


Here are ways to support a friend when times are tough.

Personal touches
•    Offer to do her hair or nails.
•    Send a cheer-up note by snail mail. 
•    Tape a surprise inspirational note on their fridge.
•    Send a cheer-up text at the time of day when you know they feels the lowest.
•    Burn a CD of their favorite tunes to listen to in the car.
•    Bring a handful of flowers, even from the backyard garden, to brighten the day.
•    Give the gift of touch with a back rub or foot massageHelpful touches
•    Mow the lawn or help with yard work.
•    Bring the trashcan in from the curb.
•    Help pack for a move.
•    Offer assistance with preparing or updating a resume.
•    Let them practice a job interview with you.Thoughtful touches
•    Pet sit while they get away for a long needed rest.
•    Drop the kids off at school if someone is ill.
•    Watch the house while they are away.
•    Surprise your friend with a car wash.Invitation touches
•    Invite your friend to a dip in your pool or hot tub.
•    Take them out to lunch or dinner.
•    Ask them to join you for dinner.
•    Make time to go shopping or catch a movie together.Tasteful touches
•    Give chocolate.  It has way of bringing out a smile and warming the heart.
•    Bake a cake or cookies for your friend..
•    Cook an emergency freeze-away dinner for a night when they returns home late from an interview.
•    Double a recipe and share.
•    Pop in with some yummy gelatos.Money-saving touches
•    Clip coupons you know they can use and then present them in a decorated envelope.
•    Offer to babysit while mom or dad is at an interview, or just taking a break.
•    Share your "Buy one — get one free" supermarket deals with them.
•    Offer temporary housing.
•    Plan a garage or bake sale to raise funds for doctor or funeral expenses.

Supporting touches

•    Offer to accompany a friend to that emotion wrenching doctor appointment or court appearance.
•    Make it a point of remembering their deceased loved one when everyone else has moved on.
•    Help research assistance or support groups and be willing to go along to meetings.

Stepping back touches

•    Be quiet and just listen. No matter when or where. Everyone can use a sympathetic ear at one time or another.
•    Know when to step back when they need space, yet be available when they need you.
•    Don't take anything personal, since emotions rule during tough times.
•    Remember being cheerful may not be warranted when a friend is unloading feelings and emotions.
•    Do research on the type of situation your friend is experiencing so as to be better equipped to understand and help.
•    Take care of yourself so that you are well enough physically and emotionally to help your friend.

"Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on"
-  Bill Withers

Friends help us carry on when all feels lost in our world.  Supporting a friend when times are tough is what life is all about… And it's the little things that we do that really make a difference.

Other ways to support someone

How to support someone fighting breast cancer
Giving back costs nothing
Volunteering opportunities and ways to give back

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