A friend of mine lost her father while he was deployed on Thursday...She was extremely close to him and, as if the situation could not get more unfortunate, he was supposed to be back home this week. This has been weighing on my mind for several reasons, but I need help with, more than anything, writing something to her.

I know not to say "I know how you feel" and to tell her I am there for her, I am not having any trouble understanding what is tactful, but even though I did not know him, his death seems to have pressed very heavy things into my mind and thoughts. I really want to express how much I am thinking of her and how I have pondering ways and thoughts and ideas of ways that I can help her, and I just can't think of a way to word any of this. My friend is a wonderful person and was telling me how very close she is to him just about three months ago.

I am also wondering what I can do to make her life easier while she recovers from this loss. The only thing I can imagine that would make it easier for her is attending her classes and taking notes for her until she is ready to go to school, so that she doesn't have to worry about catching up as much when she is ready to come back to school (our school begins on Friday and I don't imagine anyone would be ready to go back to school two weeks after their father dies). I have no problem at all with doing this and am eager to, but I don't know how to bring it up to her. Would calling her be a good idea? Should I ask her after the funeral (I am attending it)? Neither of those seem appropriate to do...Are there any suggestions or ideas for things that I could do to help her and how to propose my help for her?

I'm sorry if this doesn't belong here; I figured that helping my friend would be decreasing world suck and I do want advice on this. But, yeah...I don't know what to do. She is devastated and I have never lost a close family member. He will never see his daughter graduate high school, she will never have her father walk her down the isle, he will never be able to hold his grandchildren...It's not fair and I don't know what to say to comfort her or make it easier for her. I don't think there is anything I can do, but I am so upset for her...I mean, he was supposed to come home THIS WEEK. So soon. He was supposed to see his daughters again in just a day or so. My heart just breaks for my friend and I want to help her in some way.

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Send me a message if you want my help.
I was a soldier and my brother is a soldier, he got back from Afghanistan two months ago.
I'll more than happily help you, but I think it's respectful to discuss it more so in private.
I can see how this is a hard topic, I don't know if anyone really knows what to say in that situation unless they've lost a parent too.
I lived with a girl who, early-on, mentioned that her mum had died a few months before and I didn't know how to react. It turned out that I just had to wait until the time was right and she wanted to talk about it. She told me all the things she missed, she told me funny stories from old family holidays and how much she wished she could still talk to her mum when something bothered her.
I don't think you'll be able to talk to her about what has happened for quite a while, she'll be too upset and it won't have properly sunk in yet. You need to wait until she brings up the subject with you. As for her classes and things, I would go and see her a day or 2 after the funeral and offer to take notes for her then, and maybe ask if there's anything else you could do to help too.
I have no idea what to say when things like that happen. I tend to say something like "I'm sorry. That sucks."
I think hugging might help, and not having to be alone. But then, some people just want to be left alone.
And some people want to be left alone, but really need hundreds of hugs... I don't know how to figure out what people need in any other way than to ask. I guess you could ask.
A lot of times I think the best thing you can do for people is to not worry about saying the right thing, and just be with them, even if it means just sitting there not saying anything. I know a lot of people feel abandoned by their friends when something awful like the death of a parent happens, because nobody knows what to say and they feel like they have to say something, so they end up just staying away. I think just being willing to be present with somebody is often the best thing you can do.
Great advice.
Okay, so I'm answering this extremely late, and I don't know if the things I'm going to write will be of any value to anyone, but I'll do it anyway. But I have to say, handling a death is so incredibly individual that I can just talk from my perspective and my way of handling death.
I have some insider experience of this sort of thing, due to the fact that my father died two years ago. Exactly two years ago, today actually. Anyway, even though he had been sick for a while, we didn't see his death coming so it came as a complete shock, much like it must have with your friend. And this part of a death, the shock, can actually be good but at the same time very bad if it goes on for to long. You see, the shock helps you get on with your life. You imagine a family members death is like how it is on tv, that it's completely devastating, and you can't even move from the extreme emotional pain you're in. For me and my family, that wasn't the case. My father died on a Wednesday. The next Monday, we were back in school. We were absolute ghosts, and thinking back I can hardly remember a thing from those first months, but we were functioning. Because one of the important things in this is that my dad, like your friends dad, was away from home for one reason or another. That makes it worse. Because there was a life without him being there, and even though you miss him, you get by, because you know you'll see him again. Basically, you got used to him not being there, and that was all right. You had a normal life. So when that person gets taken away, you can't spot the difference at first. Sure, you can feel it in your heart and you hear it in your mind, but you do not feel it in the same way, because though he isn't there, he wasn't before either. You can't feel the same emptiness, because it wasn't strange for him to be away. And he is still just away, but in a completely different way.
Okay. Now, if she is religious and believes in some kind of afterlife, it's good. She'll see him again, someday. If she doesn't, don't focus on talking about what happens after death. Now this is also completely individual, but I'm a person who can't really express my emotions very well, I can feel like crying, but I physically can't. And crying is good, it let's you reload and start again. To do this, I needed help. But I didn't get any. In my head I begged for my friends to talk to me about it and ask questions, just so I could get some small things of my chest, but everyone was too scared to talk to me. And I get that, they are afraid of saying the wrong things, but they shouldn't think like that, if she doesn't want to talk about her feelings right then and there, she can just say so. There is no harm done. But you should never judge her way of mourning. It leaves scars, for example, my best friend was so... I guess scared to talk to me about anything related to death that she spent most of her time with another girl. All of their reluctance to talk about it reflected on to me, so that one day when we were talking a bit about the funeral and I said that we were going to see a church she asked me why, and I half-jokingly, half-sarcastic replied that we were going there to see all the pretty flowers. And that made her angry, and she said that I should be ashamed to joke about my dads funeral like that. And that made me sadder than anything she could have done, and even though she's still my best friend, I haven't forgiven her for that. Because it was my dad, and it's not like I could have practiced on how to handle my fathers death. In my opinion, you may never judge a grieving person, because you do not know what they're going through. I don't know what your friend is going through, because every relationship is individual, and every way of handling a death is individual. But I can relate. What helped me was that I had the luck to be friends with another girl, who was so relaxed and joking, so I didn't have to walk around with a rainy cloud over my head. I got to laugh, and it helped so much. I don't think we spoke more then a couple of sentences about my dad, and we didn't have to. Because when this sort of thing happens, you get super low energy. Being with positive people gives you energy, and you need it. Being with negative people drains your energy, and it will eat you up till there's nothing left but pain.
The final thing is that these things take time. It will never go away, and it will never get better, and you'll never forget your loss. But you will get used to it. You will learn to handle it. One thing that's excruciatingly sad is that, depending on how old she is and how much contact they had, she will forget other things. Things about him. And that will hurt. My dad died when I was 15, and all together, he might have been home with us for five of those years, most of which I was to young to remember anything from. And it's unfair. More than I can put in to words, but there's nothing you can do to change what has happened. Bad things happen, and it sucks. What you can do is listen to stories she might tell you, and try to remember them or even write them down, for the future. She'll probably appreciate it.
And now, I'd just like to say that even if you find nothing of importance in this insanely long message, I'd just like to thank you for giving me a reason to write some things down. God knows I have more feelings repressed than what's healthy. And also, if you or your friend have any questions or anything that you think I can help you with, don't hesitate, I'd be glad to do whatever I can. And I'm not saying I know everything there is to know about death, just... quite a bit. Told from my point of view. And completely partial. :) There. I've been sitting down for waaay to long writing this, so I'm gonna go do something. I'm sending all of my virtual love to you both, and hope that you come out of this experience alive and... alive. Wow, that's a sad ending. But so is this message, so it's okay! Or something.


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