DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a boat club, and I see the same people every summer. One guy who has been part of the community for years came back this season as always, but he looked thin and unhealthy. My husband finally asked him what was up and learned that he had cancer. He has subsequently died. We are so sad about this. None of us knew he was ill, and he didn’t mention it to our friend group. He wasn’t old. He was like most of us, in his early 50s.
I’m not quite sure what to do now. I want to show my respect. We know his family a little bit, but we only hung out at the club. His mother is still living. Would it seem odd to reach out to her? I met her once before. -- Losing a Friend, Washington, D.C.
DEAR LOSING A FRIEND: I am so sorry for your loss. It can seem odd and off-putting to lose a friendly acquaintance whom you see only once a year. Those bonds that you form during your summer fun are meaningful, and the loss cuts deeply.
You should reach out to your friend’s mother and let her know how saddened you are that her son is gone. Check to see if you can be of help in any way that you can manage. She will appreciate it. You may also want to hold a memorial service at your club to acknowledge this man’s passing.