How to Help a Worried Friend

By Annie Lane

May 17, 2018 4 min read

Dear Annie: I have a friend who is going through a tough time, and I am wondering how I can help her.

She was a single mother who raised two daughters and a son on her own. I am still amazed at how she provided a safe and loving home for her children all by herself. Her daughters are married and living in different states with their families. Her 40-year-old son was also married; however, he went through a nasty divorce last year and moved back to live with my friend. He is currently unemployed. His car was recently rear-ended. When the police arrived, they smelled alcohol on his breath and gave him a Breathalyzer test. He was found to be legally drunk and was arrested. This was the start of a huge financial and emotional burden for my friend.

She calls me crying several times a week because she is so worried about her situation and about her son. As someone looking in from the outside, I feel that he could be depressed because his marriage ended and he continues to experience drama when dealing with his ex-wife. I think he could benefit from counseling, but I feel uncomfortable telling her this because of the financial burden she is already feeling.

Aside from being a shoulder to cry on, is there anything else I could do? She is a lovely lady, and I want to help, but this situation has made me feel helpless as a friend. — Helpless in Hot Springs

Dear Helpless in Hot Springs: Your mere presence is more help than you could ever know. A shoulder to cry on is an invaluable thing to offer a friend.

Because you two are so close, it wouldn't be inappropriate for you to suggest that her son might benefit from therapy. Mental health care is not necessarily the huge financial burden that many assume it is. Therapy websites, such as BetterHelp and Talkspace, offer individual care from licensed therapists starting at about $35 a week, and if her son has Medicaid, he can look for covered providers at

Dear Annie: I'm writing to you about an issue I've never seen addressed in this column. As my daughter and new son-in-law opened their wedding cards, they received one from a cousin who attended the wedding. The card was empty, with no gift card or check inside. Do we send a thank-you note for "sharing our special day with us" and the beautiful card? We know it's a guest's choice to give a gift, but what if the cousin intended to put a cash gift in the card and then forgot? And is she expecting a thank-you card? It's a funny situation. How should we handle it? — Left Wondering

Dear Left Wondering: She most likely didn't forget to include the gift, and if she did, she'd remember on her own soon enough. Perhaps she's just not in a position to give a gift right now and wanted to send a card to at least recognize the special occasion. I'd leave it be.

A side note: You asked, "Do we send a thank-you note?" I hope you don't mean that you're writing the thank-you notes for your daughter and son-in-law.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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