A Friendly Note

19 Aug

Dear LetterBalm: Two months ago, the husband of my best friend was diagnosed with a pernicious form of incurable cancer. They’ve been married a long time, and they have no children. They’re very devoted to each other, so I know this is a real heartbreak for her. She called me with the sad news, adamant that I not contact her during this time. So far, I’ve respected her wishes. I don’t want to cause her more stress by being pushy, but I think she really needs a good friend now. I want to show my support, even if it’s just a phone call from time to time. What can I say to my friend to convince her to accept my help?

–Solicitous

Ms. L.B. appreciates your offer of help, but this is not about you, it’s about your friend and her wishes. Your best approach is a gentle one. Let her know that you care and want to be there for her. She needs to know you won’t pepper her with intrusive questions and observations she won’t find helpful. Send her a thoughtful handwritten note along these lines:

My dear Heloise,

These weeks have been so very sad and stressful for you.

I can’t possibly know what you’re going through now. But I want you to know that I can be there for you in big and small ways – whatever you feel is best, from running errands to cooking and cleaning, even just to listening without saying a word.

Your longtime friend is mindful of your pain, and she sends you and Abel a warm hug. If you want to talk or vent or ask me for anything, all you have to do is pick up the phone, and I’ll be there. You’ll always be my dear friend.

With love,

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