Do you have friends or family members who are under extreme stress, such as coping with the death or serious illness of a loved one? Following are some ways you can support them as they cope with their challenges.

  1. 1.

    Listen. Encourage them to express their feelings. Reassure them that it is all right to cry and normal to feel upset, confused, and frightened when coping with extreme stress.

  2. 2.

    Get family members involved. Encourage them to pray and to work with their family to solve the problem.

  3. 3.

    Do not judge. Phrases like “If you had only …” or “I told you this would happen if …” only make them feel guilty. Help them see they are not to blame for events outside their control and they are not being punished. If they are responsible for their problem, encourage them to put the past behind them by repenting. Repentance will allow them to forgive themselves.

  4. 4.

    Encourage them to continue their daily tasks or give them a meaningful assignment to complete. They may feel bewildered and helpless. If they can do something useful, they will feel more capable of controlling the problem.

  5. 5.

    Spend time together. Show your friends or family members that you care by being available. Pray with them and for them.

  6. 6.

    Help them gain a spiritual perspective. Help them see the purpose of trials and suffering in life. Give them a sense of hope.

  7. 7.

    Use Church resources. The Church provides spiritual and emotional support from priesthood and Relief Society leaders, temporal assistance through the ward or branch welfare committee, and support from home teachers and visiting teachers.

Be careful not to neglect those whose problems continue after the initial flurry of support. A new widow or widower may need as much attention six months after his or her spouse’s funeral as was needed immediately following the death.—General Church Welfare Services Department

[photo] Photograph by Jon T. Lockwood, electronically manipulated