How to Give Comfort When a Mom Feels Helpless
At one time or another, as moms we feel helpless. But more often as friends, we unknowingly reinforce those feelings rather than offer comfort to each other.
What do I mean?
A friend texts you saying she is on her way to the hospital with her youngest son. She had just taken her son to the med center because his breathing seemed shallow. The doctors immediately called for an ambulance and said, “He needs to go to the ER right now.”
What do you text back to give her comfort when she feels helpless?
1. “I’m sorry, friend! Is there anything I can do?”
2. “Oh! I will be praying! Keep us updated!”
3. “Oh!!! How scary!! We will be praying for you. Is there anything we can do?”
More often than not, we answer with #3 by saying, “Oh! How scary!”
Scary is Scary, Right?
Why do we answer with “Oh! How scary!”
Why not? It is scary, right?
Yes, it is scary to be rushed to the hospital and not know what is going to happen next for your child.
However, what we are doing at that moment is repeating back to our friend the thing that she is feeling!
It’s fascinating to hear someone say back to us what we are feeling. It reinforces that feeling. And sometimes it adds to the feeling making it stronger.
This is NOT what we mean to do at all.
In fact, it’s easy for us to say this or things like, “How frustrating!” or “I can’t even imagine what I would do in that situation!”
The Gift of Peace and Strength
Why do we do this?
We do this, because we love our dear friend! We are empathetic—and we think that we are comforting her in the situation.
But…what if…instead of repeating back to her those feelings of helplessness, we gave that mom the comfort and peace she really needs?
When that mom who feels helpless shares with us her scary situation, we can take those feelings away and place in her heart, mind, hands and ears a gift of peace and strength.
How do you do this?
It’s simple. We take those feelings away by not saying them in our response.
How to Give Comfort to a Mom Who Feels Helpless
Here are some ideas:
- Acknowledge how YOU are feeling.
Tell your friend you are sorry that she is going through this situation. Tell her you love her and are glad that she called.
- Ask if there’s anything you can do.
Even if she says no, you know that there is always something to do whether it’s hands on like taking a meal, taking care of other children, sending a note, flowers, or money for meals at the hospital—there is always something you can do.
- Offer to pray right then, and then continue to pray for them.
If it is sending a prayer in a text, phone call, email, or seeing someone face–to–face, praying at that moment is very powerful. It invites the Holy Spirit to do a work of comfort in your dear friend and your heart at the moment. You do something simple, but incredible when you pray with and for your friend right then and there.
- Invite them to keep you updated.
This is another way of saying, “I really care.” However depending on the complexity of the situation, and your friend, this might not be something helpful. It’ll be a good opportunity for you to discern. If it would be too overwhelming for them to communicate with you in addition to a lot of other people, you could offer to be the communication point person. Or on the opposite spectrum, you could just follow up with them later to see how things turned out.
My Mommy Heart Feeling Helpless
It was our fifth anniversary and we had just returned from a night away together. We were unpacking our bags from our vehicle when I found our two year old in my husband’s truck.
There was an empty Excedrin bottle on the floor and white powder across the side of his face.
Panic immediately overcame me and I began asking him to open his mouth. He looked at me with wide eyes opened his mouth and inside was more white powder.
“How many did you take?” in my panic I yelled. He began to cry. He didn’t know what he had done wrong. In his small voice he said, “Two, mommy.” I looked again on the floor and found he had spit one out, but I still had no idea how many he had really put in his mouth.
After realizing that we would need to take him to the ER, I called Poison Control. A woman answered and asked how she could help me today.
The first thing she said was, “Sonya, it’s going to be okay.” She then walked me through a series of questions and then told me she was going to let the hospital know we were coming.
Aside from a few hours at the hospital for observation, I’m thankful to say that our son ended up being okay.
Next Time a Mom Feels Helpless
Emergency and medical professionals are trained to help us and keep us calm—that’s why we call them.
Likewise, as moms and friends, we lean on each other for the same thing–to keep us calm, to lift us up in prayer, to give us help, and to offer us peace when we face challenging situations.
Let’s be intentional to train ourselves to think differently and give comfort so we can truly minister to one another when we need it most.
This is good advice! It’s so challenging to know how to handle these times well. Not adding to the stress is huge. Letting them know you’re there and are praying are huge. Unfortunately, I get better at this as I find myself going through my own hard times and later evaluating what helped me through.
Thank you, Traci! Like you, experience has made a huge difference for me too. It’s been helpful for me to remember that in the process we haven’t failed our friends–we’ve become a better friend!
This post was super helpful! The tips you have given will help us be better friends!
Thank you, Julie! Yes! Being a better friend is something we can all grow in–me included! Glad you found it helpful.
This was so good! So helpful and encouraging! Thank you for sharing because we really don’t know what to say lots of times, but we certainly don’t want to make it worse. I stopped by from Grace Girls, and I’m going to share this on my SM platforms. 🙂 Again, so good!
Yay! Sabrina! Thank you for stopping by fellow grace girl! Thank you for saying hi! Words have been so powerful in my life, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago until this message really hit home. I was learning more about self talk and the mind and it shocked me how much we undervalue words and how they influence us. Thank you for your comments—and for sharing.
In the stage of life I am in, 4 little boys with one more on the day, I feel like my words are ALL i can give to my friends sometimes, EVEN THOUGH everything in me wants to do more! Thank you for affirming that words spoken are just as effective as acts of service in those desperate times.
Oh sweet Christi! Bless you momma! I so love your heart. Yes! Words of encouragement can sometimes feel like you’re not doing enough–that’s me alot! Yet, words really have a lot of power to turn anxiety into peace. Glad you were encouraged and thank you for sharing!
Thank you for this heartfelt, helpful message. It’s really easy to feel powerless in these situations if we lose sight of the One who has the power to comfort. Thanks for the great advice!
Thank you, Laura! Yes, when we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we can trust that He is with us in all circumstances. Friends are a great gift from Him too—helping us along in our journey. I’m so thankful He continues to use community to show us His comfort.