When Your Heart Breaks for a Friend

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We all know someone who’s hurting. How do we care for them and help them know they’re not alone?

when your heart breaks for a friend

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Recently, an old family friend shared the sad news of her miscarriage via Facebook. She is a young mom whose mother once comforted me many years ago — fifteen, in fact — when I had my three miscarriages. It’s not the first time when my heart has broken for a friend.

You know. It’s happened to you. Someone you know has

  • a child with cancer
  • a husband who’s left
  • a miscarriage
  • infertility issues
  • a husband who doesn’t appreciate her
  • an income that doesn’t cover expenses
  • a chronic illness with no end in sight.

These things break our hearts and we feel hopeless to watch as she suffers. We want to fix things, but we don’t know how. What do we do?


Prayer is the best and first thing we should do. Nothing goes beyond God’s notice or control. Nothing. He knows that this thing is happening. He is not surprised. In fact, He knew it long ago. And perhaps He has a purpose for your participation through prayer.

After reading The Hiding Place again (affiliate link*), I am reminded of how God shows us His actions once we pray. He listens! I know this from my own life.

A certain friend was on my mind a lot this week. My brain wouldn’t let her go. I was praying about her and then called. It was a much-needed conversation. I had no idea, but God did.

Pray for your friend and ask God to move in mighty ways.

Two small green polka dot casserole dishes of chicken divan.


Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Offer tangible help.

You may not be able to solve the problem for your friend, but you can watch the kids, do some laundry, take a meal. Some times the stresses and challenges get in the way of us taking care of regular daily chores. You know that; you’ve been there, too.

Find ways that you can help your friend with her everyday.

Send a note.

I have always been a mail hound. And I remember during the Miscarriage Year the letters and cards that friends and acquaintances sent me. It really meant a lot to know that someone had taken time from their day to care for me. In this day of techno-everything, an email is nice. A card is better.

Either way, send a written acknowledgment that you care.

Watch your words but don’t be afraid to be honest.

I will admit, folks said some of the dumbest things to me during my Miscarriage Year:

  • Maybe God knows you can’t afford to have a baby.
  • Maybe there was something wrong with the baby.
  • When are you guys gonna have another baby?

While I know they meant well, these things did not make me feel better about losing a child. So, you’re honestly stuck. You want to help your friend, you want to cheer her up, but you don’t want to say something stupid. I know.

One of my favorite farewells is “Have fun!” It’s a habit of mine, and I say it without thinking sometimes. Like when my son had oral surgery. Oops. The nurse laughed at me. Like when my friend is taking her son to chemo….

Ugh. I wanted to die right on the spot. Of course there is no way that taking a child with cancer for chemo could ever be fun. Ugh to infinity. In that moment, I was just honest. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I said that. I say it without thinking. Of course this isn’t fun.

Thankfully, she was gracious.

All that said, tell your friend you want to help and you’re happy to talk or just listen. Call her to say hi and ask her how she is. Ask if she wants to talk. Ask. And don’t be afraid to say, “I love you and I’m afraid I’ll say something stupid.” It will be okay if she knows you care.

Open doors to honesty.

red flower

Remind her of who she is.

When we’re in struggles, stressed, or strung out, we tend to default to our bad qualities. What if I had been a better wife, better mom, better sister…? What if I hadn’t eaten this or that? Your friend may very well be struggling with self-doubt and berating herself for being in the situation she’s in.

Reminder her of who she is: a child of God, creative, funny, responsible, witty, intelligent….

Give her specific examples of where you’ve seen her shine or where you’ve seen her unique qualities bless another person.

Remind her that she is not alone and that she will get past this season.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for your post. I’m a bit behind on my blog reading, so I just read it today. But I think God knew this was the day I needed it. My friend is 27 weeks pregnant and may be loosing the baby. The doctors are doing what they can, but where we are, there’s not hope of keeping a child so young alive. I’ve been thinking, “What else can I do/say?” This was what I needed. 🙂