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Caring Can Be Difficult 

Seeing someone you care about crying can be incredibly difficult to experience. Their head is down, feeling overwhelmed. In that moment, knowing what to do or say can be challenging. He or she is feeling incredible vulnerable with you, and you certainly don’t want to respond in a way that hurts them further. Not knowing how to respond only increases the awkwardness.

Here’s something important to note: something about you has allowed the sad parts of that person to show up. This person feels connected to you, and you have cultivated a safe place for them to be vulnerable if they’re opening up to you in this way. What you’ve already done is huge! And I commend you for creating that space for your person to show up and be seen.

Holding Space For Difficult Emotion 

Now comes the difficult part: holding the space. So often when a person we care about it feeling deeply, we want to swoop in and fix it. With positivity we bolster the person! Surely they just need to see an alternate perspective, right? Not necessarily. While your intention may be coming from a loving place, moving quickly to fix-it mode or positivity can feel dismissive. This can leave the vulnerable person feeling unheard.

This doesn’t mean the positivity bubbling inside you can’t ever come out. There is a time and place for encouragement! Holding space for the other person to truly feel an emotion and connect you on through the depths of experiencing emotion is vital for that person’s process. It isn’t until acknowledgement of a feeling happens that part of our brains turn back on to logically process next steps.

These responses below will help you hold the space and listen well to what is going on with your loved one. As mentioned above, the fact that they trust you is incredible. Don’t discount the power of simply being with someone when they’re feeling emotions. Also tuck these responses away to communicate empathy, interest and connectedness in a moment of sadness and crying.

10 Verbal Responses To Someone Crying

  1. “It’s okay to be sad.”
  2. “This is really hard for you.”
  3. “I’m here with you.”
  4. “Tell me about it.”
  5. “I hear you.”
  6. “That was really scary, sad, etc.”
  7. “I will help you work it out.”
  8. “I’m listening.”
  9. “I hear that you need space. I want to be here for you. I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready.”
  10. “It doesn’t feel fair.”

The overall goal is for you to be fully present to the individual. There are so many ways to do this with your body language, shared history, and attunement. Verbal responses are simply another way for you to connect. 

If you know someone who is experiencing overwhelming emotions and life circumstances, they may benefit from the connected and safe space of seeking professional help from a therapist. At Optimum Joy we specialize and work with a variety of people. If you’re wondering if a referral is appropriate or simply don’t know how to make a referral for someone you care about, I invite you to call our office and consult with a therapist on staff. We can help you help your loved one who is hurting. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Written by therapist Alexandra Hoerr

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