DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into an old friend’s parents a couple of weeks ago, and I immediately saw that my friend’s father is gravely ill. My grandfather died a couple of years ago, and my friend’s dad looked just like he did before he passed away: He is very thin, his eyes are sunken back and he could hardly walk. It was awful to see. I immediately called my friend to say that I had seen his parents and wanted to know if he had been to visit them. My friend lives all the way across the country, so he can't see them often. What I saw told me this was urgent. I didn’t say all that to my friend, but I thought it. He didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency around seeing his dad. He said he might come home for Christmas like he does in some years. I know I’m no doctor, but I don’t know if his dad will make it that long. Should I say anything to my friend? We grew up together. We don’t talk as much as we used to, but we are still close. -- What To Say
DEAR WHAT TO SAY: Tell the truth to your friend without being inflammatory. Tell him that when you saw his parents, it made you worried because his dad looked so frail. Tell him that you saw in his dad what you had seen in your grandfather when he was ill. Suggest that he do a video call with his parents so that he can see for himself. Add that your gut is telling you to encourage him to make a visit as soon as possible. Say what’s on your heart. If you think he may regret not visiting soon, tell him. Then it is up to him what he does next.