Often when someone talks about their problems, the instinct of the listener is to suggest solutions to those problems. Sometimes advice is helpful, but other times it's more of a hindrance than a help. We give advice because feel we should do something to help. It's hard for us to realize that just by listening, we are helping.
Sometimes being a good friend can be sort of like watching a sunrise -- it's about being there to witness and appreciate as something beautiful unfolds. If someone does that for me, if they observe my strengths, then it helps my strengths to grow. It may seem like just being present is not really helping, but it can actually have quite a powerful impact.
One friend said to me, "If you ever feel too exhausted again to do stuff like groceries, please let me know and I'd be happy to pick stuff up for you. That's what friends are for!" Things like that make me feel so much better! When I'm sick, I fear what will happen if I become too sick to care for myself and there is no one to rescue me. Even if I never actually ask the person to do something, it's so reassuring to know that I won't be stranded.
When I was feeling that as a sick person, I have little to offer, one friend said, "You can still be wise and thoughtful even if you're tired and sick. (But I guess it's probably harder.)" This friend made me feel that I do have something to offer, and at the same time, with the part at the end, helped me forgive myself for not being able to do more.
I'm glad I have the gift of knowing these two friends.