This has been a very difficult week for one of my closest friends. I am trying my best to be there for her, to support her and to let her know I am available in whatever way she needs me. When my mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, because there is no treatment or cure, she chose to go to Canada for 12 weeks and explore an alternative method of treatment. She had an amazing group of girlfriends, and 12 of them decided to put their lives on hold and fly to Canada and spend a week with my mom, one at a time, to help her and be there for her. Her friends were her life vest, literally keeping her spirits up in an excruciating time in her life. I learned invaluable life lessons watching this experience. We will all struggle and suffer with experiences in our own lives, and if you have a solid group of friends in your life, it will shed some light during the darker periods. I always try to be the type of friend that I would like to have in my own life. I try to be involved, supportive, compassionate and available. Sometimes when you see a friend struggling, you tend to back away out of not knowing what to do. You tell yourself that you don’t want to intrude. You tell yourself that if they need you they will ask. Remember, that simply making yourself available, letting your friend know that you are there for them, will sometimes be the strength your friend needs at that time of their life. And you can only hope that when you are experiencing something very painful in your own life, the same friends will be right by your side. This week I hope you can look around and determine if one of your friends could use an available ear or shoulder to cry on. Don’t make up excuses, simply make the time.
ACTION TIPS FOR THE WEEK:
1. Be aware
The first step in being a good friend is simply being aware. It is very easy to get caught up in your own life and craziness, that a friends situation skips right past you. Try to ask how people are doing. Try to invest time to be engaged in these relationships. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. It really does take consistent effort to nurture your friendships.
2. Don’t back away
Like I mentioned earlier, it is very easy to take a back seat when one of your friends is suffering. You may feel like you are intruding in their personal business. You may simply not know what to say. My key piece of advice is to be the friend who does not walk away, but stands firm right beside your friend. You do not have to say anything profound or offer solutions, just be there.
3. Be proactive
Instead of waiting for a friend to ask for help, offer it first. Send a card in the mail. Drop off a meal for their family. Take their kids for the afternoon. I guarantee your thoughtfulness will go a long way. Be the type of friend you would like in your own life. My mom’s friends went above and beyond during her last years of life, simply because she was always that unconditional friend to so many. Make a difference when a friend needs you.