Jeanne Takenaka

Have you ever thought that helping others through tough times is . . . well, tough?










And a few others who shall remain nameless

These names represent people I care about who have struggled through very painful times, or have passed away in the past few years. This is a partial list, and I can only imagine how long some of your lists are. 

Frosted red leaves—symbolic of how sometimes we feel alone in hard seasons

No, I’m not hosting a contest to see whose list is the longest. These names are a reminder that, in each situation, I’ve had the opportunity—the gift—to walk beside them as they faced painful times of their lives

As I’ve considered how we keep our faith in painful seasons, I’ve also grappled with how we walk alongside those enduring painful, uncertain seasons. Because I feel inept at approaching this topic in depth, I asked friends who have walked the hard roads what were the biggest helps in their hard seasons. 

How To’s for Helping Others Through Tough Times—20 Tips—As I’ve considered how to keep our faith in painful seasons, I’ve also grappled with how do we walk alongside those enduring painful, uncertain seasons. #toughtimes… Click To Tweet
Image of brown leaves with yellow leaves behind—symbolic of how there is hope when we feel dead or overwhelmed by tough times

Tips for helping others through tough times

What follows are some actions that meant the most to people in the middle of trials and in the aftermath of loss. 

Brown leaves scattered across a sidewalk, a reminder that helping others through tough times is often a walk, not a one-time event

Practical Helps

The gift of food

Whether it’s a home-cooked meal or a gift card to a restaurant, this can be an enormous help. When a person walks through a difficult trial, finding the energy to make meals is difficult. Relieving this burden can be meaningful.

Clean the house…

if they’ll let you. A clean house is not a top priority. When we can serve in this way, we offer them the gift of a peaceful place.

Run errands

If you’re going to the grocery store or somewhere else, offer to pick things up for them. When you drop it off, don’t expect to see them. Leave it on their porch and let them know. If they are in a place of being ready to see people, they’ll let you know.

Offer Childcare

Whether it’s taking care of their children, running them to school or sports practices, or doing other things to lighten their parenting burden, this blesses the person who’s struggling.

Send flowers or a small gift . . .

let them know they are thought of.

Meme with the words, "When we don't understand God's ways in our lives, knowing we are not alone is a balm to our souls." on a backdrop of a dirt path with fallen fall leaves lining each side. When helping others through tough times, we remind them they are not alone

Presence Helps

Give Space

When a loved one is struggling, a way of helping them through a tough time is to give space for them to feel the pain. To cry. To ask the hard, painful questions. We don’t have to answer those hard questions. Sometimes, it’s more a matter of listening.


When someone opens up to us about their struggle, let’s listen, not judge what they say. Be a support as they pour out what’s on their heart. Be a safe place. Be vulnerable. If they are struggling with something in their faith—the What-If’s perhaps—share a time when we’ve struggled too. When we don’t understand God’s ways in our lives, knowing we are not alone is a balm to our souls.

Be Present

People I spoke with said having someone be present with them through the tears, the heartache, even the anger, ministered in powerful ways. Sometimes our presence offers the support when they aren’t yet ready to talk.

How To’s for Helping Others Through Tough Times—20 Tips Sometimes our presence offers the support when they aren’t yet ready to talk #toughtimes #tellhisstory #helpingothers Click To Tweet

Don’t be afraid of silence . . .

and don’t try to fill it with words. Sometimes people need someone to simply listen and acknowledge their suffering.

Be willing to sit with them in their pain

Notice if they are teary or emotionally struggling. Offer a hug, listen. Be silent beside them.

Share Encouragement

Take time to touch base regularly. Write a snail mail note, an email, a text, or to call. Remind them they aren’t forgotten. When appropriate, share a Scripture that once helped us.


Ask God to show us how to pray for them. Ask them what their prayer needs are. And then pray. If they are willing, pray with them. Here are a few verses to help you pray with direction.

My gift to you: feel free to download photos from this folder, if they will help you encourage loved ones. Feel free to send them as memes. But please only use them for this purpose.

Remind them God is with them

When walking through a painful trial, it’s easy for our perspective to become skewed. Sometimes a gentle reminder that God sees and loves us in our hard situations is what’s needed to encourage faith.

Be yourself

When a person is struggling with cancer or another serious health issue, the death of a loved one, or another all-consuming sort of trial, they need their friends to just be themselves . . . whatever that looks like for each individual.

A still creek reflecting the morning sky with barren trees and brown and yellow grasses on each side

NOT Helps:

In helping others through tough times,


. . . Allow the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing prevent us from reaching out at all. It’s better to try to reach out and mess up than to stay silent b/c we didn’t want to make a mistake.

. . . Allow silence make you feel like you must fill it

. . . Act or talk as though you completely understand what they are going through. Each person’s struggle, grief, is unique to them.

. . . Share Bible verses (though they may be accurate for the situation) or platitudes in the moment of pain. There may be a time for sharing later. Be situationally aware.

. . . Offer advice in their moment of pain. At some point, we can ask if they’d like to hear our thoughts, but we shouldn’t ever force our thoughts on someone in the middle of a painful struggle.

. . . Try to “fix them.” God is the only Person who can do the mending, fixing, and healing in another’s heart and life. Often, our role is to walk with them through the process.

A leaf-strewn path through a grove of aspens is a reminder that there is beauty in helping others through tough times

I am certain I’ve barely skimmed the surface of how we can encourage others in their faith when they’re facing painful situations. Let’s seek God as we reach out to those in our lives who are hurting. 

What about you? What have others done that helped you in a tough season? What would you add to my lists?

Remember we’re linking up at Lisa’s place next week!

Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet

Most weeks, I link up with Grace and Truth, Anita Ojeda, Instaencouragements, and sometimes Let’s Have Coffee. Come join and read more encouraging posts!

Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click over here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Let's Connect!

Sign up for monthly notes filled with encouragement, updates, and glimpses of how God shows up in each day. Receive free encouragement resources!

Thanks for signing up!

%d bloggers like this: