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My friend's dad died two days ago. I gave her my condolences that same day. My question is, should I check up on her on a interval basis? Like everyday, every two days, etc.? And what kind of things to say after the first condolences? I mean, I imagine I can't give her my condolences every single time, yet I don't find it appropriate to, for example, make jokes to her...

I don't want to overwhelm her, perhaps she wants to be alone for a while, but I also do not want "abandon" her on one of the saddest moments of her life. I understand that this may be different from person to person, and from relationship to relationship. But I would like to know common ways to support friends on this matter.

Perhaps a little bit about my relationship with her will help:

She is not a really close friend, like one of those whom you speak with everyday, we say Hi and chat for a while about once a week, we don't see each other at all, but I really appreciate her, she is a good friend. We just get along well.

If this helps at all, we are both on our mid-twenties.


Edit: with respect to possible duplicate, I am not sure is quite the same question, because in that question they are talking about an accident that occurred, so, follow-up questions like "how is your father doing?" seems fine, but in my question we are talking about death, I can't ask her "is your father still dead?" or something like that. Should I give her some space? Should I ask her how she is doing? Should I try to talk about other stuff? Normally, when a friend is sad, I try to talk to them, and sometimes even make them laugh, or at least forget their problems for a while, or sometimes I provide just company and understanding... but this is different, she lost her father, I know I just can't "try to make her laugh" on this one...

I know this is not an exact science, but your experiences dealing with similar situations, what you did right or wrong, or if you were in her shoes in the past, how did people follow up with you? Did you feel annoyed, Did you feel ok? Did you want more space? Did you want to talk more? Did you want to be able to talk about other stuffs?

  • The answer probably depends on whether your interest could be interpreted as (or turn into) a romantic interest. There is a reason that the "Harry" character in When Harry Met Sally said that "Men and women can't be friends." – Jasper Jul 29 '17 at 13:51
  • @Jasper I edited the title, thanks. I personally don't have a romantic interest in her, she has a boyfriend. I just don't want to overwhelm or abandon my friend. – Felipe Gavilán Jul 29 '17 at 13:54
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    Possible duplicate of How to enquire about someone after they learned bad news? – Kate Gregory Jul 29 '17 at 14:42
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    you can't ask how her father is, no. But you can ask when the funeral is, how she is doing, how other family members are, how the funeral was (really just a prompt to let her talk about it), if she mentions paperwork or the like then next time you see you can ask how that is going, etc. – Kate Gregory Jul 29 '17 at 15:18
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    @KateGregory thanks. I talked to her, and thinking about your comment, asked how she is doing, and how is her mom doing... We are friends, we are supposed to be there for each other, the exact words does not matter that much. Thank you. Please make your comment an answer. – Felipe Gavilán Jul 29 '17 at 22:33
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According to the original post and the comments, you already have a "good friends, non-romantic" relationship where you "say Hi and chat for a while about once a week, we don't see each other at all". This relationship is okay with you, her, and her boyfriend.

This existing relationship gives regular enough contact that you can notice if she becomes depressed, and regular enough contact that it can keep her cheered up.

In this scenario, I recommend that you continue doing what you have been doing.

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    Welcome to Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange! Feel free to take the tour and check out the help center. Answers shouldn't just give a suggestions, but should explain why the suggestion would be beneficial to the reader - in other words, discuss where you got the idea for the answer (experience, perhaps). If I use your suggestions, how can I be sure that they will make my situation better? Please explain why your suggestion, the last line, follows from your other statements - which are sort of just restating the question. Thanks. – HDE 226868 Jul 29 '17 at 14:16
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    @HDE226868 -- The middle paragraph explains why the suggestion is appropriate. The first paragraph explains why changing the relationship might be inappropriate. – Jasper Jul 29 '17 at 14:19
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    An optimal answer on Interpersonal Skills comes from experience. It's true that most people won't have the same experience as the question asker, but the best way to be sure of an answer is to have tried it and know that it works. An answer can feel right but still be wrong. – HDE 226868 Jul 29 '17 at 14:26
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Answer: you ask the other party if they would prefer you to draw closer or back away during this time.

You can say something to the effect of:

I see you in a difficult situation. I want to help, but I'm not sure how. Please tell me how I can help you at this difficult time.

When an important person in one's life dies, it is like a sudden heavy burden has appeared that one must carry. You cannot carry it for them. At the outset, one has no idea how to pick it up, let alone carry it.

Some want a lot of others around them. Some want to be left alone. Some switch between the two. It is important to try and focus on what that person wants/needs, not what you think you might want in their place.

  • Good answer! Maybe add a few options as to how you can help. for example doing something fun (to clear her mind)/have a good conversation/just being around. People in these kind of situations most of the time can't think of the things they might need. – Kevin Nov 29 '17 at 14:31
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As a person who has lost their father, these are the interactions I felt most comfortable with:

Right after the death:
It was hard for me to even share with friends the news of my dad's death, so after a friend's initial "I'm so sorry, I can't imagine how that feels" response (or something similar, expressing consolation), I would prefer to move on to normal conversation, because I preferred to mourn in private.

After a few weeks:
In general, I wouldn't want someone else to bring it up, and would only want to discuss it if I brought it up. The exception: on important days that to relate to my dad (his birthday, anniversary of the death/funeral, and especially on Father's Day), I really appreciated that a few of my friends specifically reached out to me about it:

"Hey I know this day might be hard for you, how are you feeling?"

and they allowed me to guide the conversation, so if I wanted to rant about missing my dad they would let me talk and if I wanted to move on to some other topic, they would let that happen too.

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As PlayDeezGames said in their answer, just keep doing what you've done until now focusing more on what you perceive her needs are. She may need to be alone, or to have fun, or to cry on someone's shoulder.

I will add one thing: don't avoid the subject of her father's death at all costs.

When somebody suffers a sorrow (not necessarily a death of a beloved one) we are sometimes drawn to keep silence around the source of the pain, usually persuaded of respecting this way the other person's sorrow. While it's important not to bring the subject up casually, it's also essential not to make the subject a taboo just because it feels uncomfortable to talk about it. She will need to process what's happening to her, so it may happen that she wants to talk about her feelings, or bring up a memory of her father, or tell how her family is coping with the grief. Do not block or avoid these sort of topics.

If you don't know how to answer when somebody talks about their pain, just listen and give signals that these conversations are ok, and you're genuinely interested in knowing what she wants to communicate to you. For instance, if she's telling you about a memory of her father, ask her more details.

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If it was me, I would definitely want to be alone.

But I would also want to be alone so much that I lost my mind! so I think friends should be there to force me to keep living a normal life, also be understanding and kind and patient so that I can feel close to them enough to talk about my emotions to them, which is a vital key to get over with a problem.

I think you should not make jokes in first days, I myself like a cozy comfortable atmosphere in order to reduce my stress and grieve and be able to talk about my feelings and feel at home. I need to feel safe. guess others feel the same.

However, it depends on her personality.she may want to spend time with groups of people after a while, try to forget about it and start over. she would also want not to talk a lot about her problem not to remind herself of that. guess you should ask her in some ways, first.

in addition, when ever I find my friends uninterested or doubtful about talking about their feelings I start talking about my own, try to make them ready or interested to talk as well.

PS: do not stick to her or force her, she may not feel close enough to you.

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    Welcome to Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange! Feel free to take the tour and check out the help center. Answers shouldn't just give a suggestions, but should explain why the suggestion would be beneficial to the reader - in other words, discuss where you got the idea for the answer (experience, perhaps). If I use your suggestions, how can I be sure that they will make my situation better? I'd recommend explaining why you feel that your thoughts - wanting to have friends, even when alone - and experiences are applicable here. Thanks. – HDE 226868 Jul 29 '17 at 14:17

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