Empathetic Phrases: Supporting Loved Ones in Hard Times

Do you struggle with what to say to someone experiencing a tough time? When someone is going through a hardship, it’s important to approach them with empathy, understanding, and support. It is difficult to think about what to say, so here are a few phrases that help someone in a vulnerable place. 

  1. “I’m here for you.” Assure you’re available and willing to listen and support them through this difficult time. When listening, have an open ear without rushing to say your opinions or thoughts. Just listen. Allow them to speak their mind until they have said everything they need to. Your presence is invaluable. 
  2. “You are not alone.” Remind them they have people who care about them and are ready to assist. Knowing they don’t have to suffer alone will help bring peace of mind and a sense of safety. Conquering hardship with someone by your side seems much more manageable than suffering alone. 
  3. “It’s okay not to be okay.” Validate their feelings and let them know their struggles are valid and understandable. This can sound like, “It’s normal to feel this way,” or “I know you’re hurting, and it’s okay.” Avoid judging or criticizing the emotion they are feeling. Instead, accept it as a genuine experience. Everyone has different emotional reactions, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Validating feelings doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with or condoning specific behaviors or actions associated with those feelings. It simply involves acknowledging and accepting the emotions themselves.
  4. “Can you tell me what you’re experiencing?” Encourage them to open up and share their thoughts and feelings, providing a safe space to express themselves. Creating a safe space involves fostering an environment where individuals feel respected, supported, and free from judgment or harm. 
  5. “What can I do to support you right now?” Ask how you can help them, demonstrating your willingness to assist in any way that aligns with your boundaries. Hearing these helpful words will let them know they are not alone and they can trust you to help. Let them come up with ways you can help instead of offering. They know best about what resources or assistance they may need. 
  6. “Let’s take things one step at a time.” Remind them to focus on the present moment, and that progress can be made incrementally. Dealing with complex problems can have many layers to navigate to a final solution. Reminding them to take it one step at a time can ease their anxiety and help them feel it is possible to solve their problem. 
  7. “I’m proud of you for reaching out.” Commend them for seeking help or confiding in you, emphasizing their strength and bravery. Hearing encouraging words during a difficult time will help them feel cared for and loved instead of alone and helpless. It takes strength to be vulnerable and ask for help. 

Everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s important to tailor your words and support to their specific needs. If the person is in immediate danger or at risk of harming themselves or others, it’s crucial to involve professional help or emergency services immediately. If you or someone you know needs professional counseling, contact our therapists, who can assist professionally. Our therapists are trained to assist people going through tough times to help them find relief. 

By: Lindsey Schmid, LPC-A

Firefly Therapy Austin is Affordable, Effective Therapy for Austin, Texas.
Find out more about our Therapists and Specialties.