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A checklist for good friends in bad times

2 min read


A few months ago, I read a line in Kay Redfield Jamison’s new book, Nothing Was the Same, that has haunted me ever since: “Keep away the ungenerous and unkind.”

This particular book is about the healing journey of widowhood.  But death of our beloveds isn’t the only earth-shaking loss we’re suffering, especially these days.  And these days we need our friends more than ever. Maybe we don’t have the budget for a night on the town anymore,  but we still need the companionship and emotional support of the people who love us and we love back.

When we’re between jobs, we might not be so much fun to be around.  This is when the kindness and generosity of our friends truly emerge.

Kind and generous friends:

  • Don’t judge.
  • Don’t change their opinions of you and your journey because they have arbitrarily assumed that you should be fill in the blank by now.
  • Make it easy for you to tap into their network.
  • Make introductions and then get out of the way.
  • Talk about you in the context of what you have to offer, not what you’ve lost.
  • Keep their promises.
  • Remind you of your gifts, talents, value when you’re feeling especially unwanted.
  • Help you see things in a slightly different way.
  • Help you keep your standards high.
  • Listen.
  • Include you in social gatherings and projects.
  • Don’t judge you for false steps, unseemly behavior, embarrassing moments that arise from the stress you’re under.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Keep their  unsolicited opinions and “you shoulds”  to themselves.
  • Let you make your own decisions.
  • Keep a watchful eye out for your wellbeing but won’t meddle in trivialities.
  • Will swoop in if you’ve truly lost your way or bearings.
  • Will respect you no matter what.

As for the others, keep them at a very, very safe distance.  Preferably, as Jamison says, away.   If they make you feel bad about being between jobs, being desperate, being confused or emotional, ditch ‘em. The first person who owes you kindness and generosity is yourself.

Image credit, Yuri_Arcurs, via iStock