This is quite possibly the hardest and most awkward thing a friend of someone who has suffered a considerable loss has to go through.
After the awkward five minutes is over with, things will flow much easier now that you have expressed how open and comfortable you are about their situation and how willing you are to help them. First of all, I would simply say the small stuff, such as “I’m sorry for your loss”, “you’re in my thoughts”, and even just “I’m sorry.” While this may sound trite, it is better than not saying anything or being in denial about the situation. However, stay away from languages such as getting better and recovering. This is a change that your friend is going to have to adapt to. They won’t be the same person they were before this tragedy. Your friend who has lost someone is going to need support during this. But be careful, and don’t offer support to someone if you aren’t ready to hear about their upsetting news and stories. If you can’t handle it, don’t offer. It will be better for you both in the long run.
One thing all people who suffer need is a listener. Keep in mind if they vent to you, or rant, they are looking for a more sympathetic ear rather than a judgmental opinion. In my personal experience, people just want someone to understand. The thing about that though, is that no one who hasn’t lost a parent can feel the same feeling, even if they have lost a close family member. You just have to acknowledge (if not understand) their loss.
>Everyone reacts to loss and change thing differently, and it’s up to you to decide how you choose to interpret the event. You can go into it with the mindset of just listening, or one of helping more actively, whether it be cooking them dinner or getting them out of the house. Both helps are invaluable, and they both show that you care about the person enough to take time out of your day to look after them.
Last but certainly not least, show respect for their grief. Don’t compare the death of a parent to a death of a pet. While that is sad, it isn’t even in the same area of the death of a parent. Also, don’t complain if they still aren’t back to normal in a month or so. There is no timetable to get over a parents death, and some people never fully do. Don’t make this about you and your personal convenience. Most of all, be strong. Your friend is going to need someone to lean on, and if think yourself an adequate person for this job, go for it!