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How to help a friend whose heart is broken?

It can be hard to see a friend who’s suffering from heartbreak. You know they’re in pain and you want to be able to do something. You might also feel powerless or overwhelmed by the other person’s suffering. Here are some tips to help you… help your friend!

1.    Listen

Just being there and listening carefully are the most valuable gifts you can give someone suffering from heartbreak. They may need to talk, feel supported, or simply be with a friendly presence.

2.    Encourage your friend to express his/her emotions

Ask the person how he/she feels and be ready to take whatever comes out: sadness, anger, disappointment, guilt, etc. Suggest acceptable ways to cope with his/her emotions. For example, he/she might let off steam by writing, or express his/her anger by punching a pillow or going for a run.

3.    Give him/her the tools to understand

Tell your friend about the stages of heartbreak. Sometimes it can help just to remind him/her that the pain won’t last forever, that he/she is in the midst of the healing process. But remember that you can’t help him/her heal faster. Respect your friend’s own speed. He/she needs time to get through it..

4.    Show him the positive side of life

Help the person focus on the positive aspects of his/her life. Remind him/her of activities he/she likes to do, invite him/her to go out, emphasize his/her strengths and talents, and mention activities he/she is good at.

5.    Help your friend take stock

When the person is starting to accept the breakup a bit better (acceptance phase of the heartbreak process), you can help him/her think things through, talking about what he/she learned and what he/she wants from future relationships.

6.    Show respect

When you’re with the person, respect what he/she’s going through and, most important, respect his/her own pace. He/she needs to say what’s happening inside himself/herself and find meaning in what he/she’s feeling. Ask questions gently to help your friend express himself/herself, and don’t judge.

If your friend is having negative thoughts, his/her situation isn’t improving, or you’re starting to feel depressed or powerless yourself, ask for help. Your friend might need more support to get over it. And you too might need help to support him/her. If something’s worrying you, talk the situation over with an adult you trust, a professional, or Tel-jeunes.