DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is having a lot of trouble at home lately. Her sister is in rehab, and her mom just had preventive breast-cancer surgery. She does not know that I know any of this because she has not felt comfortable telling any of our friends. I think she thinks that we will judge her or think of her family differently, but that is not the case. I want to be there for her and help her, but I can’t because I am not supposed to know about any of these problems. How can I be there for her and support her when I have to act like I know nothing? -- True Star, Reno, Nevada
DEAR TRUE STAR: This may be a time to reveal what you know -- incrementally. You might approach your best friend by saying that you know she has been going through a lot lately, and you want to be there to support her. While you do not need to know the details of her family’s issues, you do want to help support her in whatever ways you can. Tell her that if she needs a sounding board, you are ready to listen. If she wants to escape and go do something fun, just give you a call. Make it clear that you aren’t interested in getting into her personal business. You just want to be a helpful friend.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)