In a world where technology serves as a barrier to real, human emotion, it has become increasingly hard to help others manage their emotions when you are a direct witness.
Even as someone who possesses and expresses a lot of different emotions, I feel uncomfortable and helpless every time I encounter a moment when one of my friends is in physical or emotional pain.
There is no step by step way to help your friend, but there are certainly ways to make you feel less awkward in the situation and feel like you are doing more than just twiddling your thumbs.
This may seem obvious, but there are people who have the natural instinct to freak out and start acting like they will fight anyone.
Use physical contact, when appropriate.
The physical reminder that someone is there with you can be very comforting. A simple affirming touch on the arm can go a long way (but hugs are my personal favorite). Remember: Not everyone likes to be touched.
Nodding your head and expressing that you understand is all it takes to make the other person feel that have the right to feel the way they do.
Let them cry, provide tissues.
Crying it out can be incredibly therapeutic. Just hand them some tissues and give them some space.
Find out what is causing the pain, but don't force them to tell you.
Check their social media. Ask the people they talked to most recently. Politely ask the person if they want to talk about, but don't make them feel like they have to.
Don't try to solve their problem, but do try to help them through it.
Spending some quality time with your friends can be the best distraction from a negative situation. This provides enough time to think about how to solve the problem while having some fun!
It is important to remember that this is not a complete list, but doing some or all of these things will allow you to feel like you are helping to console the emotional person, while not invading their space or privacy.
If these don't work for you, put yourself in the other person's shoes and figure out how you would want them to react.
But most importantly, be as natural and "you" as possible.