DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently learned a friend's mom passed away. I realized my friend and I met up the day after she got the news (this information is coming late from someone who knew the whole time). My friend acted normal, and we had a good time. I feel guilty that I didn't send her flowers or an arrangement. How was I supposed to find out about her mother's passing if no one told me? I consider myself to be in her circle, and I don't know how I was left out of the information circuit. -- Is It Too Late Now, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR IS IT TOO LATE NOW: Death is the great mystery of life, and many people do not know how to handle it, especially when it hits close to home. To lose your mother is possibly the most tragic experience for people, save losing a child. Most people feel a close bond to their mothers, and when that bond breaks due to the final breath being taken, it can seem impossible to handle, especially in the beginning.
The fact that your friend hung out with you but did not say anything about her mother's passing means that she didn't want to talk about it. It is not your fault that you were in the dark about her pain. She clearly wanted to hang out with someone who didn't know and who would be a neutral party at such a vulnerable time.
Do not make this about you or your perceived stumbling. Focus your energy on her. Now that you know, send her a card with condolences. Call her to tell her how sorry you are and ask if you can be of help in any way. Just be a friend.