10 Ways to Love Families in Crisis

Ever had a friend that is struggling and you don’t know what to do?  Had a church member going through a tragedy and you seemed like there was nothing you could do?  I want to share from the other side of this.  I have been that friend struggling.  My family has been that church member going through a tragedy.  And I thought I would share some ways that we have been loved well.

1.  Remember that crisis is big.  That crisis seems like the end of the world.  You can’t imagine going through what they are going through.  You are so sorry they have to go through that.  Those are the same things that you communicate.  You say you don’t understand but you care.  You say it stinks, it stinks, it stinks, and after that it still stinks. You give lots of hugs!  You cry for them!  You might cry with them…that’s ok too!  You may never say a word but your presence may soothe.

2.  Don’t ignore their situation.  Don’t pretend it’s not there.  It is there and it is real!  So don’t feel awkward mentioning it.  Some of our sweetest moments have been when someone has not been afraid to just ask hard questions about where we are!

3. Don’t quote scriptures or give pep talks in the middle of the crisis to them.  I tell you…they probably won’t hear it.  It will either go in one ear and out the other or it will anger or isolate them from you.   When the crisis settles, and we’ve comforted our friends a lot, then God opens the door for us to begin to speak truth.  And most of the time when they are ready for truth, they will unknowingly ask for it.  It just seems to be natural.  I find myself saying sometimes, please speak truth to me.  Or, what wise words do you have for me about this?  When hearts are ready to hear, then God will open the door.  No need to push yourself in and explain God’s purposes and plans!  Let God do God’s work!

4. Look for ways to serve.  Your friends in crisis don’t always know what they  need.  What are even little ways you could brighten their day?   Make them laugh?  Let them feel in a tangible way they are loved.  It’s okay to brainstorm ways you could help and ask if any would bless them.  But sometimes, you just need to step out of your comfort zone and not ask…just do.  And serving doesn’t mean it has to be some huge project.  A card, a small gift, a meal, their favorite drink or dessert could all be ways you could brighten their day.    We have had fruit baskets, donuts, cookies, movie night basket that have been delivered to our doorstep.  We have had friends clean our house.  We have had friends help us with our laundry.  We have had friends do a little maintenance.  Because you know always in the middle of a difficult situation, something is bound to break!  We’ve had friends just come visit.  But when you visit, be careful to not overstay your welcome.  Often times, families need contact.  They need physical presence of people, but they tire very easily.  So just keep in mind not only are families physically tired they are also emotionally tired.

5.  One of the ways we have been blessed is to have a couple that coordinate our care.  One of my best friends has access to my online calendar.  She can look and see what’s coming up and can know what days would be good for dinner, what taxi services might be of benefit, etc.  If someone has said can I do something, I always point them to this friend.  Her husband has been the contact point for things to be done.  So I point people to him as well.  It’s easier for me to do that!  (Since I’m not awesome at receiving yet.)

6.  Pray with them and for them.   They may not want to pray.  That’s okay!  But you get to stand in that gap for them and pray for them.  Some of the sweetest moments we have had is when friends have prayed for us in our presence.  One week I was sobbing, literally sobbing.  And my friend called.  She couldn’t be with me, but in the middle of my sobbing, she prayed.  And she simply prayed until I settled a bit!  Priceless moment!  Sweet couple has come to our home and prayed with us several times…each time…priceless.  We don’t always believe God’s truths in our hearts.  We know them in our head but letting them sink to our heart is sometimes difficult.  So we have been blessed for friends to say,” I know you’re not feeling like God is good or I know you’re struggling to believe this truth.  But that’s okay!  I am standing in the gap and claiming that for you and committed to covering you in prayer and believing that one day that truth is going to be meaningful!”  No need for guilt when we are struggling.  Just tenderness and love.

7.  In medical tragedies and trauma, they often take a toll on finances.   We have received gift cards to where we buy our groceries and medicine.  We have received gift cards for a fun night to go have ice cream!  We have received monetary gifts.  We have had people run errands and then not let us pay for whatever they picked up.  So looking for ways you can help financially is always welcome to those who have enormous medical bills.

8.  If you have been their friend, continue to be their friend.  Don’t change how you respond to them. Most of the time when people go through crisis, their closest friends will change.  They will quit talking about their problems.  Often times, they will even say, I shouldn’t complain because look at what you have going on.  My problems are nothing.  This is isolating.  So don’t be afraid to continue your relationships!  In crisis mode, people need to be loved and cared for but they also need outlets to give love and care.  I strongly believe God has designed us to be loved and to give love all at the same time.  If you have not been their friend, I’m sure they will always welcome new friends.  But I do offer one word of caution, sometimes people are really good at ministering in a crisis situation and you quickly develop a relationship.  But when the crisis is over, then you are done.  This….is difficult.  People in crisis need security.  And when people come in and offer security and then disappear, it is exceptionally difficult emotionally!  So be an “all in” friend.

9.  Understand that sometimes they need others to make decisions for them.  Now you must have that place in their lives to be able to do that!  But when we are overwhelmed, it is hard for us to think.  And it has been such a blessing that on more than one occasion to be able to look at a friend and say…what do we do?  And to just let friends come to your rescue and make decisions for you.  Sometimes simple decisions can be overwhelming!

10.  Remember, loving in crisis mode can be hard.  The person can be snappy.  The person can be emotional.   The person can be a little controlling.  (okay maybe a lot controlling) The person has the potential to say something that hurts your feelings.  Just remember, in the middle of a crisis, the crisis is about that person.  Give grace…lots of grace!!!!  Be tender.  When you don’t know what to say, say “I don’t know what to say.  But I love you!”  Sometimes just a good long hug melts hearts!

I have had this post in my blog entries for months now!  I’ve edited it several times!  But I can not give enough praise to Jesus at how He has loved us through our friends!!  If there is one thing I am certain of…I am certain that the Smith Family has been loved well!  And I’m certain that one day when we get to give more than receive…we are going to be much better givers!  But for now we are in a receiving mode and we have to remind ourselves that’s okay!  We know that we will rebound and we will be out loving like we always have….only we will do it better!!  We have experienced love in very tangible ways!  So we would like to take just a minute to say thank you to the many, many people who have played a part in loving us well!


Wife of 20+ years. Mom to 3 children. Love sharing my life with weary hearts so that we can know the One who is Good, who is in Control, and Whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.