November 8, 2013 - submitted by Dan, Malaysia

Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION #143
I really need some help with a friend. I really really care about her and I hate seeing her in her current state. Her father left her family and she's taking it very hard on herself. She's been crying herself to sleep every night, and always looks so down in school. What could I possibly say to her to help? I just want to be there for her, but I don't know what to say, I've tried, but sometimes I just can't think of a way to cheer her up.
Thanks.


The Oracle replies:

As tough as this situation is, don't try to find the right words because right now, there aren't any. You say "just want to be there for her" and that's all you can do. Be supportive. If she needs to cry or talk, hold her and listen. Try to distract her with fun things she loves but don't expect too much. It will take time. You can't take her pain away but it will lessen. I can't really comment on your friend because I don't know her but I do empathize.
It's often hard to come to terms with parents breaking up but your friend will hopefully one day see that it matters most that her parents are happy away from each other rather than miserable together. There is no point them staying together for the sake of their child(ren). It only delays the inevitable and would be unfair on everyone in the long run. They have to make the best decision for the family and if they think that's by separating then so be it.
Her dad will always be her dad but if she sets aside her feelings and thinks that her parents wouldn't want to hurt her, she will see things must have been very bad for this decision to come about. In the meantime I'm afraid the only advice I can offer is to be her friend, her rock. She will probably appreciate you telling her that you don't know what to say rather than you saying things that aren't appropriate or helpful.
Over to you.

The best thing you can do is tell her you be there for her if she needs to. When you push too much you could get her to take more space of her own. Let her cry on your shoulders and let her talk when she wants to. I think that's the best thing to do. I hope she understand soon that it isn't her fault that her dad left, because it is not! Greetings from Holland, Samantha.

I'm sorry to hear what happened to your friend. It's very tempting in situations like this to want to run in and patch everything up - to be the saviour, if you will! But to be honest: One of the best things you can do is simply be there. Be there with no judgement and allow them to express their feelings in a guilt-free manner. Ultimately your friend needs to feel safe expressing any feeling that bubbles to the surface. So find yourself a place where the 2 of you can hang out and tell her it’s now her “Safe Zone”. Anything that bothers her can be spoken here in complete confidence. Don’t worry about saying anything clever... just let her talk. And if she breaks down, just quietly hold her and say “It’s ok... You’re safe”. Good luck!
Best regards, Steve.

I think what you need to do is organise something that will take her mind off what's happened to her. Try and organise something she loves and invite all her friends to show her that you care for her and you'll be there for her no matter what. I hope this helps! Good luck with everything, Kate, U.K.

I am going through a similar situation, and what I do to cope with that situation is talk to everyone that truly makes me happy, listen to music and do artistic stuff, I really hope she copes with her situation. Tomas.

Sorry about your friend, Dan. I had been through this exact same experience as you are now. I'd encourage you to offer to talk, and definitely ask her whether she wants to talk about it or not. If she does, listen attentively and comfort her. Make her feel better and let her understand that this is not the end of the world. Cheer her up. Don't try to make her feel better by describing how bad other people have it. Give her a big, warm hug and assure her that everything is going to be okay. Be someone who will be there to listen, a shoulder to cry on. I wish good luck to you. Layla, Malaysia.

3 years ago I was in a situation just like your friend. My mother was crying all the time and she was always depressed. I've never had a chance to get sad and lose myself because if I did, my mother would feel even worse. I've tried to comfort her all the time with my words but it didn't help.Then I figured out the best way to make her feel better was to be positive and make her feel that energy. I've made her little surprises like notes and I've listened to her whenever she needed to talk. It took so long but she is so much better now. Don't worry, by time she will feel better but if you want to help her just stay positive and listen to her but don't feel pity for her as it would only make the situation seem worse. Don't rush because this issue will grow, but she'll get use to it and be more stronger than ever believe me. And you are such a good friend by the way and she's lucky to have you. Always be positive and make her think positive! Iraz.

I'm so sorry your friend is going through a hard time right now. I think the best thing you can do right is just be there for her. Let her know that you're always there to listen to whatever she has to say. You can also try to plan fun things for you guys to do together to distract her from her problem. Hope this helps. Sarah, USA.

Reassure your friend that her father's leaving is not her fault (and therefore she cannot fix it). Whatever is happening is between her mother and father; these situations are often very emotional and right or wrong, this is how he chose to deal with it. This is something they (her parents) will need to work through or out of. Hopefully, in the end, her parents' longer term relationship decision will be based on the long term, best interest of the family. And it may not be the decision she wants. Most important message to your friend, her father's leaving does not mean he doesn't love her, nor does it mean she cannot love him.
Elise, Illinois, USA.

Dan , First of all , you are doing a very important thing for her already by just being a friend. Right now she needs someone to listen more than anything . She has just had the bottom fall out of her world so be the one thing she can rely on. She needs that while she struggles to understand the changes in her life. She will be sad and unhappy but she needs to have fun too so offer that. It may receive mixed reviews but keep offering ways for her to reclaim her life and her spirit. As her friend this will be trying at times, so don't give up, she needs you to be loyal. In time she will find her smile again, in the meantime be patient and kind and loyal. Take care, Laurie.

If I can give you one advice, listening to her is the best thing you can do. I know how she feels, when my father was alive he never paying attention on me and it hurts it really do, my friends try to help me but what I needing was a person who listen to me and put an arm around me, nothing more, so I think there are no right words to take away her pain. Put a arm around her and give her the feeling that you being there for her. Good luck for you and specially for her. Marianne.

Sometimes it doesn’t need so much to say for being there, just be there. Offer her things to do, maybe you have some interests to share, meet friends with her. We can’t choose our parents, but we can work on our friendships, often our friends understand us better. There are no expectations from friend to friend compared to those among family members. Our family is very precious, but it’s not true that every family is always a place of love and trust. Then for some it is better to part. Maybe later your friend will understand her father, maybe she does now, though it hurts for sure. This situation needs time to get along with, she will find a way to keep contact to her father, maybe this is something you could help her with.
It’s fine you want to cheer her up, for being her friend it is also important to let her be sad. She shouldn’t feel she has to be funny for you, there’s a time for being sad and for being happy. You only let her gently know when you think her depression gets too hard.
She expected her father being there for her and he is not, at least that's how she feels now. Probably she doesn’t expect you for being there, but you can. Not like a father of course, but in the way friends can do: promise nothing, keep everything. You will find out how to cheer her up. Best wishes. L.Q.


I always have this problem that I don't know what to say to my friends when they're going through hard times.
I just try to lift them up by talking with them about random stuff and I listen to them.
You don't need to say stuff like "I feel you, don't give up.. etc."
You just need to be by her side, listen to her favourite music and show that you care. Tell her that she's not the only one who are in this situation.
life goes on!
Tell her that she's lucky because her life is better than she thinks. Jihan, Egypt.

Being a good friend is being a good listener. Sometimes it is not about what you can say to someone but listening to what they are saying to you. You need to let her know that you are there for her, any time of day when she needs to talk. You should not pressure her to open up to you, this may take time, when she is ready. You should just make her aware that you will always be there and that she knows she can count on you. Sometimes when something bad happens to someone, people do not know how to react or what to say. The person that bad happened to can sometimes feel abandoned and may shut out the rest of the world as a defense mechanism to not get hurt again. As long as this person does not have any thoughts of suicide, it is important to just let her know that you are there. You can offer to take her out to a park or a movie or just to hang out and watch movies. It is sometimes best to get her mind off of what happened by being preoccupied with other things. She really has to be the one to come to you. As long as she knows you are there as a good friend, she should eventually come around.
Carrie T, Gilbert AZ.


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