What to Say to Someone Going Through a Hard Time

As humans, we have the capacity for complex thoughts, changing emotions, and empathy for others. When you have to watch someone you care about go through a difficult time, it can be devastating. Many of us experience empathy at such a high level that we feel what our loved ones do. When they face a hard situation, it’s our first instinct to try to fix it. Here’s what to say to someone going through a hard time.

What to Say to Someone Going Through a Hard Time

Everyone is different in how they react to someone who’s going through a tough time. Some people prefer to stay out of it and distance themselves until things get resolved. But other people want to help their loved one get through the situation.

When a person feels sympathy for what another person is going through, they tend to become more compassionate towards them. Maybe you’ve experienced the situation, and you think your advice could be helpful. Or you could just feel bad for what they’re dealing with, even though you’ve never gone through it yourself.

We’ve all been down on our luck before, so it’s not unusual that we want to reach out a helping hand when we see someone in a bad spot. But trying to talk to someone about what they’re going through can backfire. When a person is upset, they may be touchy about particular subjects.

Even though you’re just trying to help with what you’re saying, you could be making it worse because you’re discussing something they don’t want to talk about at the time. Maybe they were okay with the topic the day before, but today, they seem particularly sensitive over it. These are typical behavior for people who are dealing with stressful situations.

Instead of walking through a land mine unarmed, keep reading to learn how to navigate tricky personal problems that we’ve all experienced at some point. We’ve divided this article up into various scenarios that we often see as “hard times” in our lives. Each situation usually needs a different approach to dealing with it.

How to Talk to Someone Going Through a Difficult Time

If you’re struggling to come up with the right thing to say to someone, we understand. It’s difficult terrain, much like walking through a land mine. Something I’ve learned in my many years of being a sympathetic ear is to let them set the conversations.

Instead of bringing anything up, just listen to what they have to say. Once you know their mindset, you can deliver better responses without putting your foot in your mouth. When you ask someone about a person who helped them through a difficult time, they won’t remember the words you spoke. They’ll remember your kindness, your compassion, and your support.

Keep it simple by asking the person, “What would you like to talk about today?” or “How are things going?” By keeping your questions vague, your companion will feel more comfortable talking because they can steer the conversation. They aren’t answering a bunch of big questions.

How to Help Someone Through A Difficult Time

When addressing someone after just learning of their problem, start by simply saying, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Many people like to tack on, “Let me know what I can do to help.” While this does show consideration, you should remember that many people don’t ask for anything because they aren’t thinking clearly.

When you’re upset, your mind doesn’t work at full capacity. You can forget to do basic everyday things like brushing your teeth or eating. Instead of waiting for them to ask you for something, anticipate their needs, and fulfill them.

Decide on bringing them something for dinner and ask what’s the best day. Call them when you have a day off and ask to come to spend a few hours together. Make sure they have the necessary household supplies. Keeping an updated shopping list isn’t a priority when your mind is foggy.

Small Gestures Make Big Impacts

Watching a loved one go through a difficult situation can be excruciating for some people. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can recall at least one time when your child went through something that made you feel completely helpless. As a mom of four, I can think of a hundred times.

Seeing them go through the misery of the flu breaks my heart. It destroys me when I have to comfort them as they learn that life isn’t always fair and things don’t always go as you want. And death, as painful as it is, happens to everything in life.

When your loved one is going through something, don’t try to fix it for them. Be there to support them as they figure it out. Offer advice if you’re asked for it, otherwise, keep it to yourself. Share your story, but only if they’ve brought the topic up first. And always stop if you notice them getting upset.

The best thing you can do for someone who’s dealing with a tough situation is to remind them that they are not alone. It’s easy to get lost and isolate yourself from everyone when you’re going through a tough time. But knowing that someone is willing to be there with you can make a huge difference in a person’s recovery.

Situational Examples

Life is like a roller coaster. It has ups and downs. You won’t always have a good day. Bad things will happen. Some things are just out of our control. If you want to get through life, you have to know how to deal with stressful situations.

The first thing is that you have to remember that no matter how bad the situation is, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom before you can have enough strength to get back to the top. There are different scenarios you might experience in your life that can test your strength, your will to survive, to live.

Death of a Loved One

Death is one of the hardest events many of us will experience in our life. People grieve in different ways. Some people might not be affected at all by the passing, while others might find it so devastating that they don’t want to continue living. Everyone deals with death in their ways. You shouldn’t try to force someone to grieve the same way you do.

When consoling someone who is suffering from the loss of a loved one, it can be tricky trying to know what to say that won’t cause them to get upset. Show sympathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” You could also add in, “I’m here if you need to talk,” or “If you need anything, I’m here for you.”

If you’re a religious person, you can tell your loved one, “You’re in my prayers.” A lot of people like to use “They’re in a better place.” or “They’re looking down on you.” These sayings can provide comfort to a grieving person, but you want to use these with caution, as not everyone will be open to such statements.

What to Say to Someone Dealing with Death

The death of a loved one leaves a hole in a person’s life that it can take years if ever, to heal. Sudden deaths can be more painful because they catch you by surprise. When you’ve had time to prepare for the day when your loved one isn’t around anymore, it can be a more natural transition.

Most people like to be able to think back on good memories of their time with the deceased. You might be unsure what to say to your loved one when they’re in the throes of grief. You could stick with something as simple as, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to upset you.”

Many people like to talk about the person they’ve lost. Take some time and travel down memory lane with your loved one. Talk about your favorite memories of the person who has passed away. Remembering their life can be painful, but it can also make you feel happy about thinking about all the experiences you’ve shared with them.


The end of a personal relationship can turn your world upside down, especially if you’ve been with someone for years. When you go from relating as part of a team to having to go through life by yourself, it can be scary. Many people struggle to resume a healthy life.

When my marriage ended after ten years, I was lost in turmoil. I had no idea how to function as a single person. It was just my four kids and me. I got so depressed; I turned into a recluse. I didn’t want to leave my bed. I didn’t want to see friends. I didn’t know how to have fun.

It was with the help of a couple of close friends that I was able to find the strength to move on. I shudder to think of the mess I would still be if it hadn’t been for them forcing me to rejoin the land of the living.

What to Say to Someone Going through a Breakup

When someone is going through a breakup, they may lose the desire to socialize. It’s essential to make sure they don’t close themselves off from everyone while they’re grieving. When I didn’t feel like going out, my friends would invite themselves over for a Netflix binge. They’d bring my favorite pig out foods, and we’d stuff our faces while hanging out.

Sometimes we talked, sometimes we cried. They helped me to see that I wasn’t as alone as I felt. I had great friends, amazing parents, and four innocent children who were now dependent on just me. But they never lectured me or used cheesy lines like “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.” Although there was plenty of revenge plotting on my ex. But no worries. We never went through with it.

When you’re dealing with someone who’s experiencing the end of a relationship, understand that you won’t be able to fix them. Moving on from a broken relationship is a different process for everyone. Instead of trying to say the right things, be a real friend, and just be there for them. Hang out at home and cheat on your diets. Trash talk the ex. Get tipsy and talk about all his (or her) cute friends. Go out and have fun. Show them that life does go on.


Mental illness is still considered a taboo topic for many people. But it shouldn’t be. Companies, schools, even the military, are starting to realize the importance of making sure that a person remains mentally healthy. Millennials (those born after 1989) seem to be more open to discussing their feelings because these are different times.

But older generations, including my Xeninials (people born between 1979-1985), grew up in a different age. We were taught to hide mental problems as a source of shame. If you were on anxiety medicine, you didn’t tell anyone. If you were depressed, you put on a happy facade in public and cried in the shower as you drank wine straight out of the bottle.

Men certainly weren’t expected to share their feelings. They were expected to be solid as a rock. If they had doubts or insecurities, they didn’t share them. Talking was considered a “woman thing.” Males didn’t need to speak to someone to make themselves feel better. But that was then. Now, we realize that talking is the key to improving.

How to Help Someone Who is Depressed

Depression is brutal. If you’ve never experienced it, it can be hard to understand. Many people say, “Just snap out of it.” But please, never, ever use this phrase to an upset person! You are dismissing their feelings and telling them that they’re overreacting. Nothing can offend someone more than this simple sentence.

When you’re depressed, it can be hard to picture a time when things are better. You lose interest in everything. You want to be alone. If you’re trying to comfort someone who’s experiencing depression, the best thing to do is remind them that they’re not alone. Check on them often and offer to listen if they need to talk.

When your mind is in turmoil, it can be comforting to be able to get your thoughts out of your head. Getting them into the light of day can help you see them in a different light. Often, you’re able to see that things aren’t as bad as you’re making them out to be. Take it from someone who’s been diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes all you need is to talk.


Anxiety is an emotion that everyone has some experience with. Nervousness is a minor form of anxiety, and you can probably think of a million times when you’ve been nervous. But for some people, they don’t just get nervous over big things. They’re anxious and worried all the time about everything.

I’ve suffered from anxiety for years. I can’t stand loud noises, crowded places, unfamiliar environments, or heavy traffic. I know how to cope if I’m stuck with something that makes me anxious, but that hasn’t always been the case. Years ago, I would have a full-on panic attack from something as simple as my kids getting rambunctious in the house.

I would feel this sense of dread come over me. My mind would run through all the millions of things that could go wrong from them roughhousing. Bumps, bruises, and broken bones are a signature part of childhood, and yet just the thought of it happening to my kids would send me into a breakdown.

It would start with my body shaking. My heart would pound so hard it felt like it would break out of my chest. I couldn’t catch my breath – there was no air in the room. And then everything would start to spin. Your vision blurs until your eyes are open, yet you can’t see anything. Most of the time, I’d wake up passed out on the floor.

How to Help Someone Dealing with Anxiety

Having an anxiety attack can be scary. Many people mistake it for a heart attack. Just ask a nurse or doctor how many times they’ve seen it happen. If your loved one is experiencing high anxiety, there are ways you can help. Knowing the source of anxiety is a big help. You can assist your companion in avoiding the situation, so they’re less anxious.

When you notice someone is starting to go into a panic attack, remind them that they need to breathe. Hyperventilation occurs when your breathing becomes rapid and out of control. Not being able to breathe can make your anxiety worse.

Encourage your companion to breathe out slowly for three seconds, inhale for three seconds, hold for three seconds, and exhale slowly again. Some people use brown paper bags for breathing because it traps air into the bag, so you feel it when you inhale. When reminding your loved one to breathe, keep your voice low and soothing. Loud noises can make anxiety worse.

Loss of a Job

Employee turnover happens far too frequently. Unfortunately, companies don’t typically care what happens to their employees once they are no longer on the payroll. When a person loses their job, it can turn their world upside down. As a spectator, it can be confusing to know what to say to someone who’s suffering from the loss of a job.

When dealing with someone who’s lost a job, you may be worried about offending them. Show that you care about them by simply asking, “How are you doing?” Being able to talk about their feelings can help a person get past the anger so they can think of their next steps. Ask them, “What are your next steps?” Having a sounding board can help ideas develop better.

Losing a job can be embarrassing. Many people feel inadequate and ashamed. They can lose their confidence and even be afraid to apply for new jobs because they’re scared of being rejected again. Sometimes, hearing, “I have faith in you. You’ll figure this out.” is all someone needs to be motivated into pushing forward instead of wallowing in the setback.

What to Say to Someone Who’s Lost a Job

As is customary with all negative situations, the first thing you could say is, “I’m sorry this has happened to you.” Next, you could offer to help them. You might think of providing a loan, but typically people are offended when someone tries to give them money.

Instead, be round-about with it. “I can help however you need.” “Would you like me to assist you in finding a new job?” “Do you need help with budgeting your finances until things are resolved?” or “Would you like some help figuring out how to cut expenses temporarily?”

If your companion makes mention of having to take out a loan or selling something to pay expenses, then you could offer financial assistance like, “If you need a loan until you get back on your feet, we can work it out. I know you’d do the same for me.”

Inspirational Quotes for Someone Who’s Having a Hard Time

There might be times when you’re at a loss for what to say to someone going through a hard time. It can be challenging to know what is safe territory to bring up. Sometimes, all it takes is a meme with the perfect inspirational quote to help someone remember that there are brighter days ahead.

These are some of the best inspirational quotes you can say to someone who’s going through a hard time. When I’m going through tough times, I look at my phone gallery, where I have tons of inspirational memes that help me remember it’s a bad day, not a bad life.

Some of these come from famous people but most are just random quotes that I’ve heard over the years from unknown origins. It doesn’t matter who said them first. If they would work for your situation, make them into your own.

Inspirational Quotes for a Hard Time

  • Whenever you’re going through a bad day, just remember, your track record for getting through bad days, so far, is 100%; and that’s pretty damn good. ~ Vinny Genovesi (This is my motto.)
  • Keep your head up because God gives the toughest battles to His strongest and most courageous soldiers. Remember that He will not give you anything that you cannot bear.
  • Stay positive and strong, even when it feels like everything in your life is falling apart. Your efforts will soon be rewarded. ~ Unknown
  • No point in stressing over something you can’t change. Move on and grow stronger.
  • Don’t wait for things to get easier, simpler, or better. Life will always be complicated. Learn to be happy right now. Otherwise, you’ll run out of time.
  • A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
  • The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times. ~ Paulo Coelho

Inspirational Quotes for Life

  • The only limits in life are the ones you make.
  • Attitude is far more important than what happened to your past or what will be your future. Being who you are is what matters. Not what you’ve done or will do.
  • It always seems impossible until it’s done.
  • You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.
  • Life is too important to be taken seriously. ~ Oscar Wilde
  • No matter how good or bad you think life is, wake up each day and be thankful for life. Someone somewhere else is fighting to survive.
  • You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen.

Inspirational Quotes about People

  • Never blame anyone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people give you experiences. Worst people give you lessons. And the best people give you memories.
  • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. Not everyone will have the heart you have. Not everyone will appreciate you and what you do for them. Sometimes, it won’t be easy having a kind heart in a cruel world. Be prepared. ill forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Talking to Someone Going Through a Hard Time Isn’t Easy

It’s not always easy to talk to someone who’s going through a difficult time. Especially if it’s a situation that makes you uncomfortable, such as death or sickness. But our humanity allows us to have the compassion to want to help others when they are going through a hard time, despite our qualms. Using our helpful tips will make you a better companion for someone who is going through a hard time.

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