Helping friends and family through a crisis

If someone you know has had a reaction to a crisis, there are several things you can do to help them.

Give them time and space

  • Spend time with them
  • Encourage them to talk about their feelings
  • Listen carefully to them
  • Be willing to say nothing and just be there for them
  • Give them some private time
  • Do your best to ensure they are safe
  • Understand that they will have their own pace of coping and healing
  • Don't take their anger or other feelings personally

What to say

  • Remind them that their reactions are normal in the circumstances
  • Don't assume one gender will handle things better than the other
  • Don't tell them you know how they feel, because you don't
  • Don't impose your explanation or judgement of the situation
  • Remember that this is about their feelings, not yours
  • Don't tell them they are lucky it wasn't worse
  • Tell them you are sorry that this event happened and you want to understand and help them

Other support

  • Offer to help with practical tasks like cleaning, cooking, minding children or pets
  • Offer moral support if they have to attend any meetings or court hearings
  • If their symptoms are severe or long-lasting, you might suggest that they see a doctor or a counsellor
  • You might need counselling yourself to help you deal with the reactions of a loved one in a crisis situation