A friend hurts…Don’t stand by idly waiting to help

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Woman on a hill looking thoughtful with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

Recently people keep asking me for advice about how to help others in need. You see, I’ve walked through very dark seasons of life with losing all our possessions, surviving wildfires, dealing with death or sickness, chronic pain issues, financial challenges, and more. You name it. We’ve seen it. Surprisingly, one of the hardest lessons to learn was to accept help. When you’re a giver the last thing you want is to need help from others.

I’ve learned so much about grace and hope from being at that deep point of need. My children not having shoes or toys. Not knowing where to begin facing mountains of paperwork and not even having pencils. Trying to figure out how to cook healthy food without buying pots and pans because you can’t face that decision yet. In those emergencies, the unexpected great kindness of many people—some friends, some compassionate strangers—was overwhelming. That selfless love has given me the veracity to chase dreams of helping others for the last few years through writing projects and speaking to groups.

This week, an acquaintance’s home was struck by lightning. Recently, a dear writing friend’s home has suffered through two hurricanes. The one-year anniversary of a friend passing from cancer has arrived. And another’s baby died unexpectedly. We just put our home on the market and are getting ready to move. Life changes and blessings are abundant. Yet few people know how to help, whether the changes are sad or happy. Sometimes fear of doing the wrong thing paralyzes us into waiting, and then we get busy with our own priorities and time just coasts by.

Man by ocean on high ridge with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

You can be that bridge and really make a difference with simple gestures of hope.

I want to encourage you to not just let that opportunity pass without trying to reach out. Recently I’ve created and run across some fantastic resources to help in any kind of support need. You know, the one that makes you cringe not knowing how to reach out and yet feeling that gentle heart tug-of-war over whether to bring a meal or offer to babysit children so a couple could just go to supper together.

Just because everyone handles loss and change differently, it doesn’t mean you should shy away from trying to help. To reach out and show that you care.

Resources for those in need

Man on bike with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

Your friend can figure out how to survive. But giving them help will really boost their chances of thriving while navigating through a tough season in life.

The Bridge, Recovery Guide

The Bridge handout to help families in need with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

The Bridge is a great quick resource to help families with all kinds of needs after a major life challenge or emergency.

This short but invaluable resource is downloadable and has a quick reference section for moving from surviving to thriving when a severe event occurs. Whether dealing with getting stable after a life-threatening event like a fire or flood, searching through remains, or starting over, I’ve got tips that you can share with friends and a handy list of how to ask for help if you need it. Click HERE for more information.

Seven Steps To Rebuild Your Life

Let’s say a friend has lost everything and is just grappling with insurance papers and navigating all of the to do lists that ensue. I’ve got a video series to help with medical emergencies, PTSD issues, new job, family relocations, and many kinds of life change HERE. Statistics say the single most important thing is to protect your marriage, and I’ve got solutions in this video series too.

Simple things you can do to lend a hand

Perhaps you just want to know how to help and your friend doesn’t know what to ask for. During the wildfires in Tennesee around the holidays, I blogged about how to help a family in need. Check HERE for the post and ten ideas about lending practical help to those in need.

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Knowing whether or not to get involved in the first place

What if you’re not even sure whether you’re close enough friends to help out? Author Sarah Beckman has a great book called Alongside that discusses how to assist families in meaningful ways and splits it up by how well you know the individual. I’ll post a review soon but wanted to offer that now in light of people reaching out to me recently.


Author Sarah Beckman's book on Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel's blog.

Alongside book by Sarah Beckman is a terrific resource for going the extra distance and even figuring out how to help others in need.


The main idea

No matter what, just loving and praying for your friends will mean the world to them. I know. Although under good circumstances, our transition is huge right now. I had friends just show up on my doorstep ready to sort through clothing or pack up toys to get the house ready to sell. Another has offered to have a party for us as a going away memory. I’m so humbled by all of this and honored by their gifts.

One of the ways you see faith in action is by letting others love you through the challenging times as well as the fun ones. I’m all about fun. In fact, I blog regularly and do VLOGS on my YouTube channel with family-friendly ideas or even points of beauty to help cheer you up when you’re in a difficult time.

But even though I love to laugh and have simple family joy, I’m going to push you right now. You don’t want to be riddled with guilt or do nothing being paralyzed by “what if’s”.

Don’t be afraid to dive deep if you’re invited into someone’s mourning. The connections you make and gifts you give during those seasons are so meaningful and could make a world of difference.

Woman on a hill looking thoughtful with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

When your friend is hurting, it can be tough to know what to do. Here’s resources and ideas to help.

Question: how have others helped you through rough seasons of life? What were some helpful resources for you? Answer in the comments below!

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