Dear Diana: Helping a Friend Through the Loss of a Loved One

Dear Diana,

One of my closest friends here at Barnard has recently experienced a tragedy. Her best friend from high school has just passed away unexpectedly. We’ve only become close recently and I don’t want to overstep any boundaries but I know she’s really upset. I really want to help her or talk to her about it, but I just don’t know how. Should I just give her space if she doesn’t reach out to me? What do I do?

Helpful or Harmful

Dear Helpful,

I am so sorry for her loss! College friendships can be tricky sometimes, because living close together offers you an intimacy that you rarely find with high school friends, without the advantage of knowing someone for a long period of time. Everyone mourns in their own way, and you have no way of knowing whether she prefers space, mothering, or just a listening ear. The most important thing to do is let her know that you’re there, for whatever she needs. Show her you care, even though you’ve only met recently, and that you want to be her person, what ever that entails.

And this might seem silly, but food really is the quickest route to the heart. Whether it’s nabbing her the last chocolate chip cookies from Hewitt, or making a trip to Mo-Wills for some comfort food, everyone appreciates some good noms. And I find it’s much easier to talk about your feelings over a shared cup of Pinkberry. Maybe your friend will too?

Best of luck, and thanks for writing in!


Photo courtesy of My Prevention.

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