DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that the big brother of one of my childhood friends passed away. I remember seeing him last year when I was visiting home. On one hand, he looked the same, wearing the bright smile that was his signature. On the other, he looked weak. I didn’t think much of it, as I hadn’t seen him in more than 25 years.
I feel bad now that I didn’t reach out to his sister to check to see how things were going. She and I see each other only occasionally. As close as we were as kids, time has created distance between us. We still like each other, though. She was the one who told me about his passing. What can I do to express my sorrow appropriately? -- Now He's Gone, Baltimore
DEAR NOW HE’S GONE: Stay in the moment. No need to dredge up the years that have passed or what you observed about her brother’s fragility when you do talk to your friend. Instead, focus on the positive memories. Tell stories that reflect what you recall about him and his relationship with his sister. Ask her if you can do anything to support her during this time.
Make this a moment of reconnection. I’m sure she can use a friend right now. Death can have a positive impact in people’s lives as it often brings friends back together.