Want to comfort a friend who’s struggling, but aren’t sure what to say? Here, find a framework for verbally supporting someone, along with specific phrases that may help when you’re at a loss.

Your friend might be depressed, might have just lost a family member, might be going through a breakup, having a panic attack, or something else. Sometimes you can’t relate, or it’s just so bad, you don’t know what to say.

A good framework for replying to your friend’s troubles is:

  • summarize what they’re going through, from your perspective
  • validate how they feel about what they’re going through
  • ask how you can help (or express that you know nothing will really help, but you want to be there for your friend through the pain)

How does this framework look in action? Below, find some examples of phrases that accomplish these goals. Maybe there aren’t words for the situation, but these phrases can help show that you care enough to try. 

What to say to a friend who’s struggling:

I hate that this happened to you.

This must be beyond overwhelming. How are you coping?

I wish I could say something to make it better.

I feel awful imagining what you’re going through.

What’s the hardest part of the situation for you?

How have things changed for you since _________?

I’m impressed by how you’re handling this. If you would like to give yourself a break, I would like to help make that happen.

What you’re going through isn’t fair at all.

Your strength inspires me, but you shouldn’t have to be inspiring right now.

Do you have everything you need right now?

What could make this easier for you?

Please tell me how I can help you weather this storm.

I don’t think anything can really make this pain better, but I’m here for whatever you need.

I am available if you’d like to talk.

I would love for you to call me next time you feel this way.

In the end…

Your friend will appreciate any effort you put into helping them feel better. Just remember not to sacrifice your own mental wellbeing while trying to help.

It’s ok if nothing works; just expressing your concern and willingness to help can make a world of difference.

And by helping a friend who’s struggling, you might feel a little happier, too. That’s a big concept behind Supportiv – an online, anonymous place to help others while feeling better, yourself.

If you need support while supporting your friend, enter your thoughts and get matched with others who can help you.