We all know the importance of being supportive during troubling times, and yet it can be challenging despite our best efforts. One of my friends is facing that dilemma right now. Her dear friend’s mother is dying of cancer, and my friend has reached out to her numerous times. Her friend does not respond to any of her communications as she is devoting all her time and energy helping her mom. My friend is frustrated as there appears nothing she can do and she wants to help.

When someone is facing a daily crisis, they don’t have time or energy to answer queries. But that doesn’t mean that your emails, phone calls, or text messages are not appreciated. In fact, it’s possible your outreach helps them to pull themselves together to face another hour or make it through the day.

Earlier this year I, too, faced a crisis. Friends and family were eager to keep in touch, and I was too overwhelmed to talk or return messages. I asked everyone to text me, and that way my phone alerted me when there was a message and the message remained on my screen until I opened my phone. I got text messages in the morning that asked how the evening went and text messages before bed that queried how the day had gone. Each message made me feel less isolated, kept me connected, and helped me cope.  

My friend decided to try that approach. She periodically sent text messages that said: “Thinking of you,” “Miss you,” or “I'm here for you.” She didn’t expect a response and wasn’t disappointed when she didn’t get one.

Another friend took a different tact when her mom faced terminal cancer and updated everyone through Facebook posts. While many people are uncomfortable putting such personal details on social media, some find solace, as did my friend. Her Facebook friends who were uncomfortable with public posting reached her privately through Facebook Messenger. The many heartwarming responses comforted my friend, and when her mom died, the online community continued to rally around her.

We have many forms of communications that make it easy and less intrusive to reach others. Continue to seek out ways to stay in touch during difficult times. Your efforts truly show you care.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

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