How do you react when...

Joined Jul 24, 2001
...all of your friends seem to be in trouble??Simultanously??

I cannot believe what is going on with my friends.

The one has marrital problems.
The other one has lost his job
The third is experiencing health problems...

On the one hand, I feel guilty because nothing really bad happens to me right now.
On the other hand I WANT TO BE OF SOME HELP but I don't know what to do :mad:
What you usually do when you feel that your world is falling apart?
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Boy, that's a tough one.
If you don't know what to do, that's exactly what you tell your friends. You can say something like, "I cannot pretend to know what you are going through and i don't know what to do to help you."
That way they will know that you care and if they need anything they will ask you.
It is easy to fall into the patern of feeling a kind of survivor's guilt but I would try to resist that. It's not your fault all this is happening and if your life were falling apart too, then who would be the strong one to help your friends?
I wish you and your friends well.

Joined Nov 29, 2001
Declare out loud that the poop has hit the fan. Be supportive for your friends but don't internalize the problems as your own. That could be detrimental to you. I'm sure each of their problems is complex but they should try to handle one facet of the problem at a time. To look at the big picture all at once can be overwhelming and seriously compromise someone's coping skills.
Joined May 26, 2001
For the last year, many many people around me -- some I know, and most I don't -- have been having a very difficult time. What have I REALLY been able to do to help them? Mostly, just listen without judging, without saying much of anything. Listen to them tell their troubles, and let them know that I care even if I can't do anything. Offer whatever concrete help I can, IF I can, and follow through; but not make an offer of help if I know I won't. To me that would be horribly cruel. I do what I can. If all that is is listen, and offer a handkerchief, so be it.

I am one of the blessed; I lost no one I knew, I didn't suffer any major upsets (minor, yes, like no telephone, and smoky air for months, but nothing that I would consider major), I was able to resume my normal life relatively soon. It could easily have been otherwise -- I could have lost my husband. I am grateful that I and my friends and family were, for the most part, spared. But I know it has nothing to do with ME. Fate is fate. We cannot control it. All we can do is our best to comfort those who are not so lucky as we.

I don't want this to be taken the wrong way; I'm not trying to make myself out to be some hero (a much over-used word here, these days) -- especially since I have friends who DID help out directly, as I did not. But I listened to THEM, when they had to unload what it had been like for them to comfort people. Even a shrink needs a shrink. :)

Vivian, just listen. Often that is all others want: someone who just listens. You've been through it; you know.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
I second what Suzanne said, but I would add to listen carefully for unexpected ways to help. Sometimes you'll hear of a job opening, etc. from a source, and it will appear almost to be divine intervention. This has happened to me more than once! I hear an offhand remark and am able to make a connection that benefits someone else (even myself, sometimes).

Breast cancer, loss of a job, deaths... unfortunately, these are some of the toll booths on the highway of life.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
Live your life and be a friend. Nothing out of the ordinary, in fact the more ordinary the better. They are looking for a shred of normalcy as their world gets blown to bits. Love them, they will get over it. And then they will be there for you some day.

your far away friend...
Joined Dec 8, 1999
Peach, I'm beginning to think you may be one of the smartest people on the web. Other than Viv, of course. She is the finest friend that I have never met in person that I could ask for.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Would you feel happier if something bad was happening to you? Then you could be part of the club? I don't mean that to be flip, it's that sh... stuff happens. We all know it and most of us accept it. I think Peach hit it on the head. It would be what I would say to people when I had my health problems. I will get over it. Don't treat me any different. Give me a thought now and again and proceed with normalcy.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thanks for your inputs.
You see I suffer from this syndrome that I cannot even sleep if I haven't managed to fix something that doesn't work... :rolleyes:

One of my mottos is " There MUST be a solution..." But this is wrong.

Thanks Greg but I am very far from being... fine
Joined Mar 3, 2002
Athenaeus, take care of yourself if you hope to take care of your friends.

Keep heart, the resolution of problems often leads people to a better place than they were in before: a job that suits them better or pays more, a happer and more tranquil life (with or without the present spouse), a healthier life because one begins to live more healthfully. Be positive, show them your confidence that they will work out their problems and your love for them as they do it.
Joined Oct 27, 2001
Unfortunately this is the fate of we Jewish Mothers. ;) Whether we be Jewish by blood or Jewish mothers by nature it is very dificult to know what to do, say or feel. I wonder if one of our lessons to learn is to accept that we cannot DO anything. Much as we would like we can't take people's pain away. We can help by listening, being available and giving our friend's hankies to wipe away their tears. It is very frustrating not to be able to solve friend's dilemmas and i am still trying to accept that the injustices of the world will continue no matter how loud i shout at the news or get angry about them, but i cannot solve them.
Taking on their pain isn't lightening their burden, it's only making yours heavier.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
So true, Rachel. You don't help someone out of quicksand by jumping in to empathize with them. You keep your own feet on firm footing, extend an arm (or a branch) and pull for them.
Joined Feb 11, 2002
Hey Viv -
I haven't had a chance to post to the boards in awhile, but really felt the need to respond. Isn't it amazing that your friends come to you to unburden and look for support? How remarkable you must be! But I understand, it's not always desirable to be put in the mommy position of making everyone feel better. I find myself in this role all the time (through default, with my kids and then with co-workers, employees, friends etc.)

I too, have been bearing a large amount of my friends **** recently, and sometimes it's just been overwhelming! As Rachel says, it's very frustrating not being able to make it "all better".That's the hard part, when I can't offer any solutions. And realizing that there aren't solutions to everything. (Recently my mother told me, half jokingly, that I needed a new set of friends, because I've been so depressed and frustrated with everything)

So I listen, help where I can, and try to learn to deal with all the crap that life doles out by acknowledging the good things that are with me on a daily basis. Small, simple things that replenish me and give me the strength to listen to the umpteenth phone call of woe.

Today's funny good thing - I walk my neighborhood every morning with my dog. There's an elderly man who's always out tending his yard, he's a little stooped and slow, but he likes my dog and comes over to say hi. This morning he told me "you know it's a good day when you wake up, there's no dirt on your face, and your name's not in the obituary column."
He's absolutely right.
I plan to use that one a lot today.:)

Peace to all-
Joined Mar 3, 2002
monkeymay, what your neighbor says is so true. What I tell myself: "If it's not death and it's not dismemberment, get over it." Unfortunately, you can't tell that to others, some of whom are so deep into their problems they can't lift their eyes from the problem to a solution.

I've just begun reading Gaddis' "A Frolic of His Own" which starts out with a man in hospital recovering from a self-inflicted accident. He is visited by friends and family, all of whom are self absorbed and so into their own problems they talk at cross purposes and barely hear what the other says. So far, it's a very amusing read (less than 100 pages into it).
Joined May 11, 2001
I'm also of the "wanting to help" variety. It seems to happen quite often around me. I'm suppose to live a nice, perfectly quiet life to maintain my sanity; however, family, friends and co-workers haven't given up on excitement and drama. Whenever anything happens, I used to always swoop in to the rescue. It was great when I could help but devastating when I could not. I have now learned to "swoop in" only when it's something I can fix and be supportive when it's something I can't. And you can't be supportive if you internalize all the problems and start falling apart yourself. Be there when your friends need you but continue to enjoy your own life.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Yuou need to know there are people out there who are here for you. You need to know friends are just a phone call away. You need a hug, someone to tell you everything will be all right.
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