Six Ways to Be There for a Friend in Crisis

Recently a friend of mine posted something like this on Facebook:

“It has been a horrible week. The kids were sick, so we didn’t get to take our scheduled vacation. We lost our health insurance. I am waiting in the hospital while my husband has his appendix taken out. It has been stressful.”

Immediately the responses were numerous. And predictable.

“I’m so sorry.”

“That’s awful.”

“I’m praying for you.”

“Let me know how I can help.”


I am begging you. If you are a friend of someone who is suddenly in crisis, STOP.

Those are not helpful responses. Those are narcissistic responses. Those are, “oh, social media, look at me, the caring friend” responses.


You want to help your friend in crisis? Here is how to help:

  1. Pray. Right now. Just pray. Silently. Out loud. It doesn’t matter. And here’s the kicker: don’t Facebook, blog, tweet, snapchat or Instagram about it. Just do it. Jesus hears you, I promise. If you feel prompted to let your friend know you prayed for her, let her know, but just her, and only if the Spirit really prompts you.
  2. Pray in one of these ways: call and pray over the phone with your friend (this is probably the most bold choice, unless you choose to drive to wherever your friend is and pray with her in person, which is also an excellent choice). Call and pray on her voice mail. Text her a prayer. Write a prayer note and email it to her, or drop her a handwritten prayer note in the mail.
  3. Give a very specific offer of help. “How can I help?” is actually NOT helpful, because your friend in crisis is probably too embarrassed or overwhelmed to ask for what she really needs. Call or text her and say, “Hey, I can bring over dinner tomorrow night. Is lasagna at 6:00 good?” Or, “I’m running to the grocery this afternoon about 2:00; are you good on milk, bread, and diapers? (band-aids, aspirin, sweet tea)”. Or, “Who is picking up your kids from soccer practice today?”. Or, “Hey, I have a few hours on Saturday. I will be over at 3:30 to help clean, do laundry, mow the lawn, sit with your mom so you can shower, hold your new baby while you nap, etc., etc.” Be very specific. Also? Be flexible. She may say that 3:30 doesn’t work, but 4:30 would be very helpful.
  4. Anonymously drop some cash or gift cards in the mail. Two years ago my husband was laid off unexpectedly at work for a few days, right at Christmastime. We received an anonymous gift of cash in the mail. Now, I am almost 100% certain I know who sent it, but it paid half of our mortgage and allowed us to leave our emergency fund in tact. It was a huge blessing, and an equally huge stress relief.
  5. Arrange a care calendar. If your friend is going to need long-term help, arrange for it. Set up an online system for meal delivery, lawn maintenance, house care, etc. There are all sorts of websites dedicated to this, and you can send the links via email and social media to your church members, mom groups, Bible studies, friends, relatives, neighbors, and whoever else might want to help.
  6. Finally, don’t be easily offended. My friend I mentioned above? I actually did call and offer to bring over lasagna, completely forgetting the entire family is lactose intolerant. We compromised on spaghetti with meat sauce :). Not a big deal to me, but some people might be offended that their offer of help isn’t met with a grateful falling to the floor and weeping. Be flexible and kind, and realize your friend needs you, you don’t need her at this particular moment.

I am fairly sensitive to this issues. Just about a year ago, my mother had a pretty serious brain hemorrhage. While she recovered, she lived with us for almost eight weeks. I think I cooked three times in those eight weeks? Friends from church just sort of swooped in and fed my family, took my son to the park, and made sure we were surviving. When I broke my foot a mere six months later, they did it again, adding chauffeuring me around this time, since I was unable to drive.

Perhaps you have a friend in crisis, possibly in a way you hadn’t even considered. If you do, think through this list. Maybe you can help her in a very concrete way, instead of offering a simple platitude on social media.


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Rachel is the wife to a hard working truck driver, and a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom to one energetic seven-year old boy. She is a theology nerd who loves Jesus, reading, and sleep, in that order, so she relies on copious amounts of tea to get through her day! Visit her blog at, or on Twitter @danielthree18.

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  1. says

    I was on bed rest for 3 months when I was pregnant with our son and we had a 1 & 2 year old. Another family took us all in. I could shower and go to the bathroom but that was all. The rest of our church prepared meals for both our families, did our laundry and helped take care of our daughters. The family we were with had 4 children too so adding us was not easy. It was humbling for sure, but really taught me what a blessing our church family is. I now head up the women at our church who prepare meals for families in need – pregnancy, lots of illnesses – especially this winter – It’s a blessing to give back this way.

    • says

      Receiving help is *so* humbling; I learned that last year when I was caring for my mom, and then again when I broke my foot (maybe God is teaching me to deal with pride! ha!). But I had taken meals to people for years – literally since I was in my early twenties and had no clue what it meant to have a family!! It was affirming to be on the receiving end for a few weeks. What a wonderful ministry you lead – you are a huge blessing, even if no one tells you 🙂

  2. says

    You are so right. Three years ago I had to be on bed rest for the last trimester of my eighth pregnancy. Sadly very few people called or helped in any way. I felt so alone, and it made a very stressful time even more stressful. Right now there is a lady in our church going through a difficult time. I asked the ladies in the church when they call her to not talk about “the situation”, but instead to tell they’re praying for her, ask how she is or her boys, stop by her place because I know she feels isolated.
    Your suggestions are all bang on.

    • says

      I am so sorry to hear you felt so alone. The Church is the LAST place women should feel alone, but, sadly, it is no different than anywhere else. And maybe it’s worse, because we assume someone else is helping!! It’s also hard for so many of us to ask for help; we feel this weird pressure to “have it all together” all the time. (which is utterly ridiculous, but it’s the truth, unfortunately) Your suggestions are good. It’s encouraging to hear people are making an effort to call on her and help. I hope you never find yourself in that situation again, but if you do, maybe they’ll know next time ;). Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  3. Wes says

    Love these thoughts. Usually if I say “praying for you” it feels inadequate. Perhaps because the Spirit is telling me, “Yes. It is!” Thanks for this. I can do better in this regard. Forewarned is forearmed, and so on..

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