DEAR HARRIETTE: I work freelance, but I often interact with the same small crew of people. I was on a job with one of my co-workers, sitting at dinner after a long couple of days of work when he became visibly upset while talking on the phone. When he got off the phone, he told me that one of his longtime friends had just died. She was in her 50s -- kind of young to die, so obviously something bad had happened, though he didn’t say the cause of death. I expressed my sympathies for his loss, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. He is not a hugger, and we work together, so I didn’t want to cross a line. We were sitting in a restaurant having dinner, so the subject just changed to other things, but I feel bad. I don’t want to be the co-worker with no compassion. What else can I do or say? -- Lost a Friend, Miami
DEAR LOST A FRIEND: Tell your co-worker that you are not sure how to support him, even though you want to help in any way you can. If practical, offer to take on some of his responsibilities during his time of mourning. Tell him you care about him and that you are sorry if you didn’t express your feelings well. You want him to know that you are there for him in whatever way is helpful.