It might seem really difficult to be a good friend at this point. Because of the delicate situation, you don’t know which lines you might be crossing with your friend, or how to respond to your friend in certain situations. During this time, there are a few simple things that you can do to be a good friend.
1. Do not mention the circumstances that the parent was under when they passed away.
For example, if your friend’s mom died of breast cancer, don’t talk to your friend about a book you just read in which the main character had breast cancer. This doesn’t achieve much; instead it comes off as inconsiderate. It may be a really wonderful book, but it will be best to find somebody else to whom you can recommend the book.
2. Reach out.
You don’t need to be by their side the whole time. In fact, in some cases that might be a bad idea, since they could think it’s a pity party or that it’s flat out annoying. I know – it’s really hard not to be there 24/7 beside that person. A very effective thing to do is to plan times to hang out, and do little things that let them know that you are there for them. Helping them with homework or going shopping with your friend can actually be great ways of supporting them.
3. Listen, but don’t ask about it.
Avoid the “How are you?” question. This question can be misunderstood. It’s one thing if you say, “Hey, what’s up?” because this opens up casual conversation. The question, “How are you?” can make your friend feel obligated to share something they don’t want to share, or actually make them feel sad. Even though this isn’t the intention behind the question, it can often be the result. If they do open up to you, be receptive and simply listen to what they have to say. Keep in mind that it's really hard to open up to someone. Even though you might want to interject with helpful commentary, it’s best to let them express what they need to, and just let them know that you are listening.