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Begeara's avatar

How do I cheer someone up who's dealing with a tragedy?

Asked by Begeara (371 points ) October 29th, 2010

My girl friend this time last year was involved in a terrible situation that involved one of her close friends killing himself on webcam with her. She’s been really depressed the last few weeks because of that. She wouldn’t tell me why she was sad (one of her close friends did). I really want to try and make her feel better, or at least be there for her to maybe help through this hard time. But because she didn’t tell me and still won’t I’m unsure if she wants me to be there for her… I’m afraid if I start talking to her about it and try to comfort her it might backfire because she didn’t want me to know about it. I’m really worried because she has a bad history of depression and has even been hospitalized before… what should I do?

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15 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Be there and allow her to feel the way she does. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but we are clearly not comfortable with the negaive feelings that other people have and have some crazy notion that everyone must alwaysbe happy and never feel sadness or pain.
It is untrue, and her unhappiness is a process through which she must go. She will come out on the other side having gained something. In the meantime, just be there for her and don’t pressure her to “feel better”. I know you mean well, but this is something that needs the remedy of time and thought.

skfinkel's avatar

I don’t think that cheering up is what she needs. She needs comfort, and her close friends to be there, even just not saying anything, just being there so she knows she is not alone. Somehow you have to tell her you know, and then you can be a help, bring some food, spend some time. People need the time and space to grieve, and that is a real gift you can give your friend.

janbb's avatar

Yes, I agree – the idea of “cheering her up” is a faulty one. You want to be ther to support her in her feelings. You can say that you’ve noticed she’s down and you want to be with her. Let her talk if she wants to, and just be in her presence if she wants silence. She may also need more time on her own to grieve. People need comfort in all different sorts of ways; the best you can do is be sensitive to the vibes she is putting out and not try to give her any “glass of water” solutions.

JustmeAman's avatar

I have been through so many times where people didn’t know what to say or do to try and comfort me. Here is something I always appreciated. People who would come up to me and talk about the situation but not trying to be careful. I love it when someone came up and asked about the person that had passed and how I was doing. I remember when one of my children was being buried and a woman came up and hugged me and said You are going to miss (Sons Name). I looked at her and said yes I will. She acknowledged my son and his name and did not try to hide the fact that I would miss him. Just be there and open to her and allow her to feel what she needs. Share it with her even to the point of crying with her.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Begeara
I am not a MD…. But a SWAG on your friend is she suffering PTSD, it can eat up people on the inside. She needs support and friends that can accept her as she works through this. Just be there and let her know you are there for support.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Just be present with her whether that means hanging out in the house watching TV or taking a drive to kill time. Let her know you can step in and help with even mundane things when she gets a “down”.

marinelife's avatar

I would gently tell her that you know about the situation, and you are there to talk about it if she wants to. If not, you just want to be there for her in this difficult time.

Goeez's avatar

I think the thing to do, as many have said here, is to be present and accepting. I think being aware and alert to the distress she is feeling is the most important factor.
You don’t even need to acknowledge that you know, since you don’t have to address the situation but rather her depression.
Respond to what you see. Comment on her status, ie: you seem to be feeling badly, what do you want/need from me? or “how can I be helpful to you?” or “how can I support you in getting through whatever is bothering you?”
Hope this helps. You can find more help here.

miminana's avatar

Since you’ve come to know about this, then you need not to refresh her memory concerning this; just play your part by being around her,make her happy.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

This December will have been a year since my best friend killed himself. I agree with the others who said not to bring it up, but to just respond to her visible depression. When Tigh died, there were so many times people tried to talk to me about it to “make me feel better”, but it didn’t help at all, and it often made me even more miserable. What she went through, especially because she saw it, is going to take a very long time for her to heal. Almost a year later and I’m still fucked up beyond belief – and I still don’t like to talk about Tigh with people. Suicide survivors experience an entirely different kind of grief than other people, so you have to tread very carefully. If you yourself have never known someone who committed suicide, don’t even try to say you understand, it will only make things worse.

I suggest browsing through websites like this to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing. I wish people I knew had done the same thing, because even though people were trying to help me, they truly hurt me by saying or doing certain things.

Marodr13's avatar

OMG, this is horrible.. Sorry to hear that your friend had to go through such a thing…
Personally when I was dealing with my mom’s passing I really was not interested in hearing ” I am sorry”, But I did like it when people would try to just change the subject. Yes she is going through stuff and she really needs all the support possible, but right now a friend is what is needed not a chat..

YARNLADY's avatar

You don’t There’s no cheering a grieving person. Just be there to listen if they want to talk or be comforting if they want silence.

Begeara's avatar

Thanks everyone, I did as most of you said and just hung out with her for the day. I didn’t bring it up and we just sat and talked. She’s started to feel a little better. Thanks again =]

Marodr13's avatar

@Begeara: I think that she has to feel really good that she has a friend that has placed so much effort info making sure she is alright… That deserves a huge hug.. You ROCK!!

Begeara's avatar

thank you =]

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