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6 Ways to Support Your Heartbroken Loved One


A little boy hugging his mom on the beach.

It’s hard enough to nurse a broken heart, but it’s almost as hard when your loved one is suffering. If your close friend or family member is grieving and you’re wondering how best to support them, these tips can help. As someone who has experienced heartbreak, the suggestions below come from personal experience.


If you know of other ways to support the heartbroken, feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section.


Let your loved one know you’re there for them with a text, a phone call, in person, or with a handwritten card or letter. You can say anything from “I’m here for you,” to “I’m only a phone call or text away,” to “call me anytime.”


My experience

After my divorce and other times of heartbreak, I received several “thinking of you” cards. It helped me to know that others cared. I needed that.


When your loved one speaks, listen without judgment. You don’t necessarily have to say anything. Your presence may be what they need most.


My experience

I appreciated the people who didn’t pretend to understand what I was going through but were there to listen. What I didn’t like was the person who compared my divorce to her high school breakup. They were trying to be sympathetic, but it didn’t help because while they’re similar not the same.


Check in with your loved one every once in a while with a phone call. Emails and texts are fine, but there’s something comforting about a voice on the other end of the line.


My experience

I wish I had gotten more phone calls. The one person who showed support in this way was my pastor. It showed that he cared, and I needed that.


If your loved one is up for it, take them out to dinner, a movie, or some other activity they enjoy. It’ll help take their mind off their problems for a few hours. They’ll also enjoy your company. This doesn’t have to be a time for deep discussion, just a chance for a change of scenery and something to do.


My experience

One of my friends and I would get together every month or so. We’d go shopping or out to dinner. I enjoyed getting out of the house even when I didn’t feel like myself. After I wrote my books on divorce recovery, she mentioned that she hadn’t been sure how to support me and wondered if she’d done a good job, but she had! I enjoyed the present of her presence. It made a difference.


If your loved one needs advice, let him or her be the one to ask for it. Unwanted advice is never fun, but it’s even harder to receive when we’re grieving.


My experience

I didn’t get too much unwanted advice thankfully. Any that I did get wasn’t helpful and annoyed me. Like the friend who suggested I should settle when I was ready to date again even though I had a particular type of man in mind.


Like the picture in this article, you can always offer a hug. Sometimes a big bear hug is just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, make sure the person wants a hug, because not everyone appreciates them.


My experience

Right after I left my husband, I remember receiving a very tender hug from a friend. It was so appreciated and a stark contrast to any affection I’d received from my ex.


 

I hope these tips give you food for thought as you consider how to support your heartbroken loved one. You know this person best and whether these suggestions will help him or her. You can tailor these, and other ways of support, to their needs and tastes.


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