When someone we care about is suffering a loss — whether it’s a death, diagnosis of a major illness, getting fired, the end of a relationship, etc. — our first instinct is often to try to make it better and help solve their problem with our suggestions, questions, and ideas.
This approach works very well if someone loses their iPhone. It really doesn’t work if someone has suffered a major loss.
The truth is, you can’t fix a loss, and you don’t need to. Your friend with cancer doesn’t need or want you to send them links about the miracles of wheatgrass, or come up with a mind-blowing spiritual insight that will give them a new perspective on life. The most supportive thing you can do for someone in a hard time is to be willing to show up, stay present, and listen. And fortunately, learning to listen is also a lot easier than coming up with the elusive “right words” that will never come.