Friend in Mourning

27 Mar

Dear LetterBalm: I’m 12 years old, and my best friend’s father was killed in a car crash a month ago. The driver was going too fast, skidded on the ice and plowed into her dad’s car. She’s been sad ever since. Sometimes she cries in school, and she doesn’t want to do any of the things we used to do to have fun. I feel so bad for her because I know how I’d feel if my dad died suddenly like that. She has two little sisters, and they are miserable, too, along with her mother. My mom says that after awhile, the family will feel better, but I hate to see her so sad now. What can I do to help my friend?

–Best Friend

It is admirable that you are so caring about your friend. Your mother is correct that eventually the family will recover from this terrible shock, but it will take a long time for everyone to feel like their old selves. Ms. L.B. says the best thing you can do for your friend is to be there for her. Let her know she can come to you and you will listen. It might be hard, but try to treat your friend as normally as you can. She may want to hang out; she may want to be alone. You may have to defend her behavior to other friends who may not understand that she needs time to heal. Do take your friend aside – perhaps not at school – and tell her this:

Lacey, I’m so sorry about your father. I can’t imagine how sad you must feel. I want you to know that if you just want to hang out and not talk, that’s O.K. If you want to cry or get angry, that’s O.K., too. But if you want to talk, I’ll listen and I won’t tell anybody what you tell me. You’re my best friend, and I hope you and your family will feel better someday.  

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