I have never had any problems talking about feelings, mine or other people's, and like to think I'm good at seeing when someone needs to lean on me, get something off their chest or even have a little rant. My mum has been very ill for the last few months and I have been down in Cornwall with her while she's been in hospital. I'd rather not go into all the details, as it was a very painful and difficult time for me and my family, but the one amazing message from all of this I want to express is the power of reaching out to people.
I don't want this post to sound like a crazy self-help guide, but I was not expecting or prepared for the amazing effect that people had on me when they sent a facebook message, a text, made a phone call or wrote an email saying that they were thinking of me. To say I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who got in touch would be an understatement. But just knowing that people where there and that they cared was just so incredibly powerful and uplifting.
So I've decided to put together a little guide to how you can reach out to someone who's going through a tough time and really make a difference. I promise it will help them!
How to Reach Out to Someone
- Don't be afraid. Whether they're your best friend or someone you went to school with 20 years ago and never speak to, if you feel compelled to contact them if you see they're having a tough time, just do it.
- No one will think you're a busybody being nosy! Every single message I got made me feel so much better.
- Keep it short and sweet if that's easier and just let them know you're there.
- If you've been through something similar it may really help to say this so they know there are people out there who really understand and can offer advice.
- If you don't hear back, don't panic. They probably don't have the energy or time, but know that you've helped so much.
- Try not to ask to many questions that need a reply or may add something to that persons 'To Do' list.
- Keep checking in regularly if you feel that may help.
- Try to be as positive as you can while also acknowledging that they're going through a really hard time.
Remember, don't just assume that "they'll reach out to me if they need something", often they'll be so exhausted and insular that they really won't and it's up to you to reach out to them. And don't assume they know that you care, it's just so much more powerful to show it, even with a text message or an email, and only takes you a moment.
I really don't want this post to sound preachy, judgemental or that I'm angry or disappointed with anyone who didn't contact me recently, I just hope this helps anyone who's um-ing and ah-ing about whether to contact someone else who's going through a hard time. Believe me, it will give them no end of hope and it may make them feel less alone. Small actions mean so much when you're struggling through something.
And I of course want to say a massive thank you to all the people who reached out to me during my tough time, I can't tell you what it meant. I will try and pay it forward and reach out more often.
By Carina Sullivan