Aftermath of a Tragedy

7 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: My friend is going through the worst kind of heartbreak. A few days ago, her daughter was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who then took his own life. The deaths occurred at my friend’s home while she was at work. The funeral is coming up. There’s so much speculation and whispering, and I don’t want to add to it. She’s not a close friend, but she’s more than a casual one. I’m not sure what I should do or say. Do I send flowers? A condolence note?  Should I just attend the services and not bother her while she’s grieving?

–Questioning

Your friend is undergoing the worst kind of pain. And, she doesn’t have the mercy of privacy to help her grieve. Ms. L.B. counsels you to be a strong, silent shoulder for her, without judgment. A day or two after the funeral, call your friend and say that you’ll be bringing homemade food, and continue to do so. Ask her what she needs. Go to her and listen if she’s willing to talk. (Of course, you won’t offer your opinion on the boyfriend, his mental state, the cleanup of the shooting site or crime scene investigation techniques.) You’ll be a comfort to her, and she won’t feel so alone and strange. Keep it simple and say this:

Leslie, I can’t know what you’re going through or what you’re feeling. I’m here for you if you just want to talk, vent, cry or anything. Whatever you need, if I can help, I will. I can bring two casseroles – one of them my turkey chili, because I know you like that – later today or whenever you want. Can I get you anything else? I can pick up groceries, run errands or do anything else you need.

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