Seeing a loved one hurting is hard. We often don't know what to say or do because nothing is enough to fix the situation. Your friend needs to be held close, given space, encouraged, and empathized with all at the same time! We end up saying or doing something wrong or just giving up entirely, because we want to carry the pain for them, but we can't.

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A friend who is like family to me has had such a challenging year. She's had five surgeries with more planned and no end in sight after an unexpected injury knocked her down in January. I watch her fight, I watch her hurt, and I feel helpless.

How do I stay or keep her positive when she is hurting physically, mentally, and emotionally?

I don't have all the answers, but here are a few helpful tips I have learned while walking through the trenches with my friend…

1. Listen.

Whether your loved one needs to cry, laugh, vent, or sit in silence, be a listener. Let her feel what she needs to feel without judgment or guilt. Be the sounding board for whatever needs to be released. Holding fear, doubt, and pain inside can negatively impact the recovery process. Talk less and listen more.

2. Give positive reminders.

I'm not talking about annoying cliches here. Don't become that person who spouts off phrases like: “Everything happens for a reason!” That is not what your loved one needs during a difficult time. Is your friend strong? Is he a fighter? Is he inspiring? Say it! Remind him who he is. These sincere reminders can bring him back to the place he needs to be to continue fighting.

3. Be the light.

Where there is pain, there is darkness. Sometimes it's physical pain, or sometimes it's discouraging news, but choose to be the light for your loved one! Yes, you need to listen and empathize. You hurt when your friend hurts. But be the positivity and bright energy that she needs to see. Maybe it's a written letter, a thoughtful gift, or through quality time. Whatever it may be, help shine a light into the darkness so it doesn't take over.

4. Don't leave.

I have had chapters in my life that were painful and raw. The support I received was incredible, and to this day I am grateful. But there's always those people who are there at the beginning and then somehow forget along the way. Then, you are left battling your demons alone wondering what happened to the people who were supposed to stay. No matter what happens, don't leave your friend. Don't assume that she is used to it by now and doesn't need you. When things get quieter, it doesn't mean you aren't needed; it means you should be there even more!

It's hard to stay positive when you see a loved one hurting, but remember, it's not about you. Try the four ideas above to equip yourself to help your loved one get through a difficult time.

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