Trying to provide emotional support via a text message can sometimes be awkward. It can feel like an inadequate way to truly express your concern or support.
But there are times where we aren’t be able to go and comfort someone face-to-face, so we have to help them through their pain using a few words on a phone screen.
Whether we are too busy working, we are too far away, etc., it’s important to let our loved ones know that we are there for them, whatever they are going through. Sending a few text messages can convey that we are still thinking about them.
In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with people who are important to us, no matter how far away or busy we are.
How to Comfort Someone Over Text:
It may be challenging to comfort someone especially when you are not near enough to offer a hug or a shoulder for them to cry on. However, with a few taps on your phone, you can still console the same person in the simplest of ways.
1. Send a message
Even if it’s not the most eloquently worded or funny thing you can say, sending a text is better than saying nothing. It will mean more to your friend that you reached out than if you had the perfect thing to say.
It’s also okay to keep your messages brief. A quick, “I’m sorry, and I’m here for you” can suffice rather than a long, drawn-out paragraph that rambles and veers from your initial reason for reaching out to that friend.
2. Offer your support
If they don’t want to talk, you can offer your support and help through text. You can send a message saying, “Hey, I’m sorry this happened, but know that I’m here for you. Let me know if you need anything.”
3. Focus on them
Don’t compare situations or recall a time where something like this happened to you and how you got over it.
Though you may think you are being helpful, sometimes this can feel like we are undermining what another person is going through and can make them feel worse.
It’s better to allow them time to talk about how they feel and just offer a listening ear. Let your friend know that they are being heard and they are not alone.
4. Try a call to action
Offer to take them out or cook them dinner. Sometimes sadness stops us from accomplishing small goals like keeping the house clean so you can see if they need someone to do the dishes or take out the trash.
If they have previously mentioned that they were interested in a specific activity, offer to do it with them as a way to strengthen your bond.
5. Use a Sense of Humor if it’s Appropriate
Humor is undoubtedly a situational remedy to use when comforting someone. A person who has just lost a close family member or friend may not want to hear a joke.
But a person or your best friend who is treated poorly by their ex and just got dumped may want to hear something funny about how much of a loser their boyfriend/girlfriend was, anyways.
Many people know the old saying that “laughter is the best medicine.” Try these methods below to make someone feel better, but carefully analyze their mood and the proper approach, so you don’t make the situation worse.
Send a joke
Use your sense of humor to send a funny joke to make a person smile and crack them up when they’re feeling low. If you’re not sure what joke to use, the best way is to search the internet for a good one.
Puns are great for breaking the ice on a conversation, as are “dad” jokes especially when someone is going through a difficult time.
Example text messages
“Why do crabs never give to charity?”
“How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?”
“Singing in the shower is fun until you get soap in your mouth–then it’s a soap opera!”
“What do you call a factory that makes okay products? A satisfactory!”
Send a meme or gif
Use a search engine to find an appropriate picture that adds some humor to your texting conversation. Try using a quote from a character related to their favorite TV show or movie.
E-cards are also a fun way to show your support through text. These often come off as crude humor or sarcasm, so choose wisely if your friend is still feeling a little sensitive about what they are going through.
Send a funny picture of yourself
Send a text with a picture of yourself using a distorted filter that gives you big eyes or an abnormally large head. A friend’s sense of humor shared through a funny picture can sometimes make us laugh more than a joke or a meme, depending on the situation.
Comforting Someone Who is Grieving
Comforting someone who is grieving via text takes a different approach.
Often, the sadness is more profound, and humor does not work as well in these situations. It’s important to say something that recognizes their loss and that this is a challenging time for them.
1. Call if you can
If you cannot go and visit or are just trying to continue showing your support after the funeral, try a phone call or a video call. They may find comfort in hearing the voice of a true friend and talking, rather than reading a text message about such a sensitive topic.
2. Be honest
If you don’t know what to say to your friend or loved one, it’s okay to admit that you are at a loss for words. You may not know what it’s like to experience loss personally, but you can use empathy skills to try and relate.
What you say won’t fix the loss for them, but you can still be a good friend through text.
3. Offer your support
You can let them feel supported even if you are not present. Try sending a message that says, “Hey, I may not be there, but if there’s anything that I can do, please let me know.”
You can also try offering to talk about the person who passed away with them. Although it may feel better to avoid the topic of the death altogether, it can be therapeutic to reminisce on good times they had or shared with that person.
You can honor this person and their life by waxing nostalgic about happy moments.
Assure them that your text messaging thread is a safe space.
Example text messages
“I know this is hard.”
“I’m keeping you and your family in my thoughts.”
“Please reach out if you need anything.”
“It’s okay if you need some space. Just know I’m here for you.”
“I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. Is there anything I can do for you and the kids?”
“I know [person] meant a lot to you, and I’m sorry for your loss.”
Comforting Someone Who is Going Through a Breakup
Breakups can be incredibly hard. We can go through a range of emotions – sadness, anger, jealousy, guilt, relief – and having a friend to lean on during a tough time is important in the healing process.
Try normalizing what they are going through, rather than relying on cliches such as “There are other fish in the sea” or “Time heals all wounds.”
1. Offer a fun activity
You can send a text that gets them out of the house or offers to do something that you know they enjoy. Often during a breakup, a person going through bad days may want a distraction or a reason to stop thinking about their ex.
As their friend, you can be a source of entertainment to cheer them up, even if it’s just for a moment.
2. Reassure them
Everyone moves on at a different pace. Whether it takes your friend a long time to get over their ex or they are out on the town again within two weeks, try to say something to comfort them as they move on.
The last thing anyone wants to hear when they are trying to heal is that they are doing it wrong. Try letting them know that their feelings are valid no matter what point in the process they are at.
Example text messages
“Do you want to go and get coffee?”
“When’s the last time you got your nails done?”
“It’s okay to get back out there.”
“You’re doing much better without them.”
Comforting Someone Who is Sick
Whether it’s a chronic illness or a temporary cold, not feeling up to par can make your friend feel sad about the current state of their life. If someone you know is sick or injured, try sending a message that shows your support in these ways.
Offer to help
If your friend is bedridden or just needs to rest to get better, offer to do something that helps them keep their environment clean and tidy, so they don’t have to worry about it once they are well again.
It is best not to ask what you can do to help but offer it instead. In place of “is there anything you need,” try a more forward approach such as, “I can drop off a casserole tomorrow after work.”
Example text messages
“Do you need any help with the laundry?”
“How about I come over and do the dishes?”
“Is there anything special you want to eat? I’ll pick it up and bring it over.”
“You’re so strong. I’m proud of you.”
The Bottom Line
Sometimes we cannot be there in person to comfort a friend or family who is going through tough times. If you cannot talk in person, texting is a great way to show you care and that they are loved.
However, each approach to offering comfort can be different depending on what they are going through. Be sure to assess what is appropriate according to the setting, i.e., telling a joke vs. offering your condolences for their loss vs. offering to set them up with someone new.
Rather than just comforting them, you can also try your hand at cheering them up.
Offer a trip outside of the house to do a fun activity. Or, a night in where you can hang out an d chill with some music or watch a movie together. You can try sending a meme or funny gifs to lighten the conversation or even a funny picture of yourself.
Remember, some communication is better than no communication at all. Even if you don’t feel like you have the perfect thing to say, a simple message can make someone who is sad feel so much better about their situation.