Columns / Discourse / February 27, 2019

Better Than Your Horoscope: ‘How do you comfort someone going through a rough time?’

Welcome back to Better Than Your Horoscope, where you ask me questions and I answer them to the best of my ability. This week, I’m answering a question we’ve all related to at some point or another:


“How do you comfort someone going through a rough time? I literally am that meme where they are patting someone’s shoulder with the broom…”


First of all, nice meme. Very niche.

Second of all, this is definitely a pretty subjective situation, in which case I’m going to have to give you several different options to work through here. Depending on your friend and depending on the situation, there are a few different ways to be there for them. But ultimately, the heart of it is letting them know you care.

If your friend is like me, they’re going to want somebody to listen to all their nonsense, feelings and be there with them so that they’re not alone. So if your friend is the kind of person who seeks comfort through other people and reaches out when they’re feeling bad, you’re going to want to make sure to be there. Physically and emotionally. They might just need to vent, or feel supported. Even if they’re just doing homework in the same room as you, it could help a lot.

Or maybe your friend has made it clear that they want space and alone time. Even if you think this isn’t what’s best, let them be. However, you should make sure they know that you’re there for them whenever. Even just a text message letting them know that you’re always down to hang out, talk, grab them food, or help out with an errand can make a big difference. Maybe they’ll take you up on it, or maybe they’ll just feel a little better knowing that you care.

Something that’s universal, though, is reminding your friend that they’re perfectly capable and are going to get through whatever it is they’re going through right now. Sometimes your friend won’t feel like they are capable, and being reminded in a flat-out, blatant way can mean a lot and help somebody begin to get through.

You don’t have to be perfect or a licensed therapist in order to be there for your friend. And maybe it’s not completely clear what your friend even wants. In which case, ask them. What do you need? What can I do for you? There’s no harm in trying. What’s the worst that can happen; they’re annoyed that you care too much? Unlikely.

The fact that you’re writing in to a not completely reliable advice column to try to help them out proves that you care a lot and are a good friend. So make sure that they know that! They probably already do, but it never hurts to be reminded.

I wish you and your friend luck!





If you want your question to be answered next week, submit anonymously at or drop me a line at!

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  advice better than your horoscope friendship

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