Q: Recently, two of my friends have each told me that one of their parent’s has cancer. The outlook is not good for either of the parents, and these friends are facing the death of their respective parents. What is the best way to show support and concern for someone who is facing the imminent death of a loved one? I do not want to put these people into a position of discomfort and cause them to dwell on their feelings. I want to help them find some solace in an intolerable situation and be there for them in their very real and inevitable pain. The right words or actions escape me at the moment.
A: Since they have told you about their parents’ illnesses, it would seem that they would appreciate your support. However, it is difficult to know what type of support they would like. You might consider saying something along the lines of “I’m so sorry. I just want to let you know that I’m here for you. If you need anything or just want to talk or a hug or whatever, please let me know.” After saying this, you should follow their lead.