What do you say to someone who has just lost a loved one, and how do you support them?

I advise not to say you know how someone feels, because even if you have lost someone in the past, you still may not know how they feel. Instead, be sure to reach out and tell them you are thinking of them (or praying if you / they are religious) during this time and that if they need you for any reason, you are just a phone call away. I think it’s important to let someone know you are there to help or support. I also think it’s a nice gesture to cook or send food to the home of the person who just lost someone. Not only for them to have something to nurture the family at loss, but also to help feed any visitors who may stop by.

What do you say to a friend who has a serious illness? How can you help but not get in the way?

I think in this case it’s again important to reach out and offer support. People handle serious illness in different ways and you can usually tell if they are receptive to speaking about it or not. If they are not, do not push for details. If they want to talk, I think it’s important to take the time to listen and be there for them to lean on. Staying positive is also very important for your friend at this time. Keeping your friend hopeful and emotionally strong is your biggest job right now. Check in regularly and offer to be there in any way they need – from picking up medication to offering to go to doctor visits with them may be exactly what they are hoping for.

If I am suffering from an illness, how do I let my loved ones know what I need? 

Try to be as communicative as possible. If you don’t want to talk about it, you should tell them that you don’t and that if that changes you will reach out to them. Try to remember people want to be there for you and they often need guidance on how best to do that. If you need something, don’t be afraid to tell your friends or family, as they will likely be glad to know what would best be of assistance to you.

Need more etiquette pointers? Check out the Etiquette Experts at Beaumont Etiquette.