DEAR HARRIETTE: I spoke to an old friend, who told me that one of his closest friends just died. He said that in the past year, he has lost most of his oldest friends and worries that he will be alone soon. He has a wife and a grown child, plus I am his friend, and he has other friends, too. But I understand what he means. Sometimes you can feel totally alone, even if you have people around. Feeling a sense of mortality when you start losing your friends is natural, I guess.
How can I let my friend know that I am there for him? Now that he is so sad, I want to make sure that he feels comforted by those of us who are still alive. What can I do or say? -- Helping a Friend
DEAR HELPING A FRIEND: Stay in close touch with your friend. Tell him directly how much you love him and care about him. Tell him you share his sadness at the loss of his good friend. Assure him that he is not alone -- you are present, along with other close friends. Over the next few weeks and months, call him regularly and invite him to meet for coffee or drinks. Text him to check on him. As time goes by, check in with him. By establishing a new rhythm with your friend, you can help him to feel better and strengthen your bond.
I did this with one of my dear friends when her husband died. We went from speaking intermittently to speaking on the phone almost every weekday morning until she died several years later. She was sad, and I think our communications helped ease her pain.