There's No "Right" Way to Help a Grieving Friend—But These 9 Tips Helped Me

Photo:

Courtesy of Sam San Roman

You're never prepared to find out that someone you love is sick or has passed. In January, my dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with a median survival time of around 15 months. My mom told me on a Tuesday night while I was in L.A., and within 24 hours I dropped everything to be in the ICU on the East Coast. I don’t usually ask for help, and this situation was no different—but the people who just stepped up, without question, taught me how important friendships are in tough times.

My experience isn’t an isolated one: As we get older, it’s more common to know friends and family who are grappling with loss, but we rarely talk about how to handle these emotional events before they happen. What’s the best way to show your support beyond flowers? How do you know when to give them space? After my dad’s diagnosis, I took some notes about the conversations, gestures, and actions that helped me during that experience and that I would like to pay forward in the future. There’s certainly no handbook on the correct way to help someone you care about, but in my experience, this is a good start.