15 Ways To Comfort Someone Who Is Sad or Down

We live in a complex, stressful world and at some point, someone you love will be going through a difficult time. So how do we support them? The key is knowing how to comfort to someone who is sad, during these tough times. This skill is a balance of empathy, understanding and knowing how to support a loved one when they need it most.

woman comforting friend who is sad

So, today we’re exploring meaningful ways to provide love to someone who is sad. Whether it’s a friend, romantic partner, or a family member you’ll find strategies that will help you help them.   

How Do You Know If Someone is Sad?

With some people it will be evident they are sad, but for others, it could be difficult to see – because many of us will do our best to seem fine, but really we might be falling apart inside.

I have been watching a lot of helpful videos from Dr. Syl lately and he gave some great recommendations to know when someone is sad or possibly depressed. 

First, he mentions to take note of people in your life who seem happy all the time. This can be an indicator that they might be hiding their feelings – so check in. 

The best way to check in is to ask ‘how are you sleeping?’

Dr. Syl mentions that this question is a great way to open up the conversation about how someone is really feeling – if someone is sad or depressed their sleep will very likely be affected.

There are so many reasons someone might be sad

sad woman

Some common reasons someone might be sad and going through a hard time:

  • Bad breakup or divorce
  • Grief over the loss of a loved one
  • Lost their job
  • Health problems
  • Struggling with mental health – depression, anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar, etc.

If you know someone who’s recently gone through any of the above or other life-changing events, there’s a good chance they aren’t doing their best. So, check in on them.

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15 Ways To Comfort Someone Who Is Sad

Many of the examples below I share from my own experiences when suffering from depression and periods of prolonged grief and sadness. 

Some of these things my nearest and dearest have done for me (thank you – you know who you are). And others are things I think would also be really helpful when someone is SAD.

how to comfort someone who is sad

1. Understand their Love Language

One of the best ways to know how to help someone is to understand their love language. Made popular by the successful book, The Five Love Languages, people tend to feel or communicate love in different ways. 

In other words, they appreciate different types of love languages, which are:

  • Physical touch
  • Quality time
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receive Gifts

When you know someone’s love language it becomes much easier to know how to comfort them when they’re feeling sad.

2. Send Flowers

Receiving flowers never gets old. It’s a sweet reminder that says ‘I care about you” or ‘I’m thinking about you’. 

If you want to keep the price down, pick up the flowers yourself and drop them off. You can also pick wild flowers or flowers from your garden to make a bouquet.

Sometimes a little beauty from Mother Nature is all someone needs to cheer up.

3. Ask If They Need/Want a Hug

I’m someone who loves a big hug, but not everyone is like me – and when someone is feeling down, they just might not want a hug (even if they typically like one) – so ask. 

Physical comfort and affection such as a big, warm hug is a simple gesture and has huge benefits.

There have been various studies that report amazing scientific benefits of giving and receiving hugs – such as:

  • Reducing stress(1)
  • Eases depression and makes you feel happier by releasing feel-good hormones (2)
  • Decreased cortisol, reduced blood pressure and better immunity (2)

1, 2 

4. Be A Good Listener

Not only be a good listener but encourage your loved one to talk – if they want to. 

Focusing on active listening can be a great support to them. You see, when a friend or family member is going through a difficult time, they may feel reluctant to share their feelings.

I know personally when I’ve struggled I feel like I’m a downer and purposely don’t talk because I don’t want to be seen as ‘that negative person’. But if someone had told me I could talk to them, it would have made such a difference for me.

When you listen to your loved one you are providing emotional support by helping them release negative thoughts so they can rethink things. 

5. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions

This is another great way to encourage conversation when a loved one is going through a tough time. Your interest in knowing more about the situation will show them you care and want to help.

Some sample questions:

  • Share with me what happened.
  • What is worrying you the most right now?
  • What can I do to help?
  • How can I make this easier for you?

Make sure to reiterate to your loved one that this is a safe space. You will not judge nor share what they have told you.

6. Help Them Find Professional Help

Of course, only do this if they want help in this area and you’ve asked their permission. Otherwise, it would be pretty upsetting to receive an email or text with mental health resources if you weren’t expecting it.

Some resources you can share:

  • Local support groups
  • Remind them to contact their family doctor or health care provider
  • Contact details for a mental health provider (clinical psychologist or licensed professional counselor) 
  • Online counseling like BetterHelp
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7. Plan A Fun Activity

Think about some things your loved one likes to do and surprise them. It could be anything from planning a trip to an antique market, taking them for lunch, or going on a hike. 

This gesture reminds your friend that you care for them. It also helps them get out of a rut and will give them some enjoyment too.

8. Send them a daily thoughtful text

This simple gesture of a daily text tells your friend you’re thinking of them. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say. 

Send a cute or funny meme or better yet, share a quote that might help them get through a rough time.

9. Show Them Small Acts of Kindness

Little acts of kindness can remind your friend they are not alone. This can be anything from making them a freezer meal and dropping it off, or sending them a cute text that tells them how much you love them. 

The little things really do build up and can make a big difference in someone’s life.

10. Give Them A Helping Hand

When someone is sad or depressed everything feels like so much effort.  Simple tasks that would be easier become way too much to handle.

So help your friend in any way you’re able. Some examples:

  • Help them make dinner
  • Clean up their kitchen
  • Take their kid to basketball practice
  • Pick up a few things at the grocery  store for them
  • Just ask if there is something you can do to make their life a little easier and offer it.

Even if something seems like a small task to you, it can be a huge help to someone else.

11. Use The Right Words

Sometimes it’s really difficult to know what to say – or what not to say. The last thing you want is to accidentally say the wrong thing. 

In many cases you can say to your friend something like, “I’m here for you, here to listen.” “Or how can I help?” So often your friend just needs to know you care and this can be done with the right, thoughtful words.

For more examples of what to say to your loved one check out these encouraging words.

12. Send a Personalized Gift

This could be something as simple as tea and homemade soup, or if you want to spend a little more I have a helpful post on gift ideas for people who are depressed.

You can check it out here: 30 Thoughtful Gifts For People With Depression

13. Make Dinner

Show up at your friend’s house with ingredients to make them dinner. This will give you both the opportunity to spend quality time together and will also give your friend something nourishing to eat for the next day. 

14. Call Your Friend

We are so used to texting these days, but it’s impossible to properly connect this way – so pick up the phone and call your loved one. Phone calls are much more personal and give you a much better opportunity to truly connect.

15. Try To Understand The Person’s Feelings

To better understand their feelings, put yourself in their shoes. Think about:

  • How you might feel in this situation
  • How might this situation impact your daily life
  • The complexities of the situation
  • The ways you might react

This will help you have empathy for your friend and will enable you to show even more compassion towards them.

How To Comfort Someone Who Is Sad: Frequently Asked Questions

woman comforting sad friend

How do you comfort someone who is crying?

You can ask if they need a hug. Or if you know them well, show some physical affection ( if this is what they like) by putting your arm around them, hugging them, holding their hand, etc. 

You can also do the following:

  • Ask if they want to talk
  • Make them a cup of tea or coffee
  • Run them a bath
  • Tell them you love them and want them to feel better
  • Just sit with them – your physical presence means a lot

What’s the difference between sadness and depression?

The best way to describe sadness is the reaction to an upsetting event or situation. This might be losing a loved one, failing a test or reacting to a negative health diagnosis.

We can be sad at times. This is a human emotion and completely normal. Sadness passes with time. However, according to WebMD…

“Depression is a common mood disorder. It’s a mental health condition that may be serious. It  can have both emotional and physical symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and behave. It can also damage your personal relationships. You’re sad and lose interest in your life or activities that once gave you pleasure.”

Depression symptoms are constant and not necessarily based on a specific event.

What are the signs of depression?

You might be wondering what the signs are of a depressed person. I recommend checking out some medical sites such as The National Institute of Mental Health

They describe depression as:

“A common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least 2 weeks.”

Some of the common symptoms of depression are:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability, frustration, or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, waking early in the morning, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not have a clear physical cause and do not go away with treatment
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts


Action Step: If you or someone you love has a handful of these symptoms it could be clinical depression. Please reach out to a family doctor to access help or find a therapist to talk to. You can speak to someone local or try an online therapy resource like BetterHelp

What are some words of comfort?

Know that you do not need to be perfect with your words. You can say this to a friend…

I’m here to listen. I may not understand, but I care about you and even if I don’t know what to say at times, know that I want to be here for you in any way I can.

This means a lot to someone who is sad.

Some other things you can say:

  • I hate that you’re hurting. You don’t deserve this. 
  • It’s not fair what you’re going through. 
  • Tell me what I can do to help you.
  • Thank you for always having my back. Now it’s my turn to have yours. 
  • You’ve come a long way. You can get through this.

More things to say here: Encouraging Words For A Friend Going Through A Hard Time

How To Comfort Someone Who Is Sad: Final Thoughts

Remember, we can all have a bad day regardless of our circumstances in life and when we see close friends or loved ones struggling it can be difficult to know how to support them. 

Well, the good thing is you are here reading this, which means you are already helping your friend in need. Doing the right thing by being a supportive, loving friend is one of the most important things you can do to help them get through this tough time.

On behalf of all those who need love and support, I thank you.

More Helpful Mental Health Resources:

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