I’ve been going through something hard for the past four years (struggling to start a family; surgeries to that end; losing pregnancies; losing all our savings in the process), and I wrote a blog post about all the things not to say — all the things that just irritate us or rub salt in our wounds. At the end I added a section about what to say, and I imagine it might apply here as well:
Offer an ear. Offer a hug. Offer a word of genuine sympathy. Listen more than you talk. Ask questions rather than making hasty (and ill-informed) statements. Understand that while it is a big deal (to us), it’s not contagious, and you don’t have to make it better in the next thirty seconds.
Don’t be dismissive. Don’t minimize. Don’t make it more about your discomfort than our predicament. Just be there with us a little.
Also remember that we’re more than our current struggles. Talk to us about other things. Invite us do things or just hang out. Tell us you’re sending good thoughts our way and hoping for our success.
That’s it, basically. Be present. Be kind. Ask. Listen.
Good advice for being a better person, and a better friend, in general.