Forming Partnerships to Support Improved 'Whole Health'

8 Ways to Help Someone in a Personal Crisis

Many years ago, I had a crisis in my own life, and I am grateful that I had family and friends who reacted in a helpful way. I have been trying to reflect on what they did, so I can describe it now. There’s a few rules that I think I can pick out. I’m writing them out here in part because I think they might be helpful to other people, and to remind myself of them and the gratitude I have. 

1. ‘Show up’ the best way you can show your love and support is to be physically present. It’s okay to not know what to say. It’s not helpful to go AWOL because it arises discomfort in you. ‘Show up. Show up. Show up’.

2. ‘Keep showing up’ there are no greater words in the English language than ‘you’re not alone’. Keep reiterating it. If they tell you they want to be alone, ‘keep sending the message to let them know you’re there, keep the door open’.

3. ‘Avoid’ saying ‘calm down’ or other directive statements, they can be invalidating, I’m sure if they could they would. Rather than asking ‘if I can do anything to help…’ try: ‘Tell me what I can do to help’. People suffering or experiencing crisis can find it difficult and embarrassing to ask for help. Make it easy for them. Make it clear you want to.

4. ‘Actively listen’ and acknowledge what your hearing. Different people have different needs in a crisis. Some people want to be super-practical and find solutions. Some people want to watch trashy movies. Some people want to avoid everything through one way or another. Don’t try and impose the solution you would prefer on somebody else. ‘Listen’. They’ll guide you to what they need, if you pay attention.

5. ‘Avoid’ offering any moral judgement on the person. If they’re in a crisis, they will feel terrible enough. Stand with them, not above them.

6. ‘Remind’ your friend or family member of a time they did something kind for you or others. It may be easier for them to accept support and kindness when they remember that they gave it out. It also triggers memories of a time before the crisis, and hopefully reminds them there will be a time after it.

7. ‘Remember’ it’s not about you. It can be distressing to watch a family member or friend suffer, and it can cause you a lot of discomfort. When you are with a suffering person, make their feelings your priority. Ensure you get suitable support for yourself, whether professional or from friends and family ‘talk to someone’. There are helpful supports in ‘Help Lines’ on our website. If you are concerned for the persons’ safety, always reach out for suitable support.

8. Did I mention you should ‘keep showing up’? 

None of this is easy, and being there is so important. Seeking professional help may be necessary, a Partnership with Capri Sanctuary is very effective in moving people away from the problems they are experiencing, empowering them to maintain an improved quality of life and a valued future.  

Brent Smith
Capri Sanctuary

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