A Friend in Need
Although most of us have helped a friend through one kind of loss or another, it's normal to wonder how to provide effective assistance without seeming intrusive. According to Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in Ventura, Calif., "being a supportive friend in times of need involves a combination of listening, insight and helpful actions."
At first news of a loss, Dr. Auerbach advises, let your friend know you grasp the seriousness of the situation. "Tell them you regret that they're going through this pain, and make it clear that you will be ready to help them through this difficult time," Dr. Auerbach says.
When people are dealing with death, illness, being fired from a job, or the end of a marriage, they're in emergency mode and, most likely, not taking care of themselves. A supportive friend can easily devise solutions that will ease their friends' strain, says Dr. Auerbach. "Regularly offer help that you know they need and always present a specific proposition," he suggests.
Examples of supportive actions may include dropping off home-cooked meals or asking if you can take your friend's children for a play date or sleepover. You could organize a team of friends to handle your friend's laundry and errands for the next few weeks.