Helping Someone Through a Trial

Do you wonder how to help a friend who is going through a trial? I still do, but I thought I would share what helped me the most during my biggest trial (A year and a half ago our baby was born with heart problems and Down Syndrome. She spent a good six months of her first year in hospital.) I know everyone is different and different things help different people. But I hope these are helpful.
1)Encourage them
I always felt encouraged when someone told me I was doing well. Because I often felt like I wasn’t! I found it difficult, I cried sometimes, I questioned God sometimes and often just wanted out. So being told I was doing well helped me to keep my chin up and keep going.
2)Sympathy is often enough
Be careful not to be too preachy! There were times that a verse/quote/poem etc. someone shared with me was helpful. But most of the time, sympathy helped the most. To be able to share how you are really doing without feeling judged. Words can sound empty if you are not also going through/have been through a similar thing. It’s easy to think “You try it then!” It is nice to hear, “I would find that difficult too.”
3)Don’t judge
I know there have been times when I have judged someone who was going through a tough time. But I had no clue what it was like. You don’t know what you would do or how you would react until you are faced with it yourself.
4)Let them know you’re thinking of them.
Unless you let them know, they don’t know you are thinking of them! They may be on your mind a lot but unless you make some kind of contact with them, they don’t know.
And it means a lot to know someone is thinking of you!
5)Don’t get offended.
Before our baby was born, I didn’t send many texts. So, when I started texting people after she was born, I quickly ran out of texts. I had to get a different deal on my phone so I could send more texts without it costing too much. But until I got it sorted, I just couldn’t answer some people. Also, there were times when I would receive five texts all at once, or sometimes I was feeling too upset at the time to answer. There were times that I had a lot of internet, and other times when I had hardly any. There were days I was super busy when our children were visiting. (But in general, I loved 
keeping in contact with people that way!) So, don’t get offended if that person doesn’t answer or even if they don’t want a visit.
6)Spoil them
When you are going through a tough time, all you want is for it to be over. But getting spoiled helps make it all more bearable and pleasant. We got spoiled majorly! One week we were taken out for dinner three times! I spent my birthday in hospital and I have never gotten so many cards and presents! Being spoiled truly helps.
7)Pray for them
You may feel helpless, but if you are praying you are doing something. I really wonder what it all would have been like for us if no one had been praying for us. It sometimes seemed like I could feel the prayers.
But don’t just pray for the trial to be over, pray for them to learn and grow through it all. Because that is what’s most important.
8)Don’t only focus on their problems
It was so nice the way people cared about what we were going through. It’s nice to be asked how it’s going. But sometimes I needed to focus on something other than our problems. I remember having a difficult week in hospital when some friends came to visit. Afterwards I felt so much better, because most of the time they had talked about general things and it had taken my mind off the trials of that week.
We knew before our baby was born that she had heart problems. Every Sunday people would ask how it was going with our baby. While I appreciated people’s concern and care, I started to dread going to church. Because I would usually have to explain over and over what was going on and it would get me focused on it all again. So be concerned, but talk about general happy things aswell!
9)Answer Their Questions
There were times people would contact me asking how it was going. (I am thinking now of the 3 months when we were in Starship hospital, a long way from home, and too far away for most people to visit). I would share what was happening, then I would ask how they were doing. Sometimes I would get no answer. While I understand completely, I sometimes felt very disconnected from people. I asked because I wanted to know! I felt like everyone knew how I was doing, but I didn’t know how anybody else was!
So if you’re asked how you’re doing, answer even though you feel it can’t be important to them!
10) Don't forget about them afterwards
When things settled down at home after hospital stays, life was still hard! We were home and all together as a family again (and very thankful for that!), but some days were just as difficult as when we were in hospital. When life got back to 'normal' I had to come to term with Down syndrome again. I had to face the fact that life wasn't 'normal' anymore.Lydia was tube fed for her first year and it was a difficult, frustrating and time consuming challenge to get her off that. Even tube feeding was scary. There were all the medicines to keep up with. I so missed a life without all the hospital appointments, complications and just the fear of Lydia going back to hospital. I came very close to being depressed. Thankfully Lydia has steadily improved and it has gotten better and easier with a long stretch of good health.
But remember when the worst is 'over', they may still need support, prayers and encouragement!

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