I’m probably not going to bring it up, but the anniversary of my loved one’s death will be on my mind a lot during that month, and there are also probably other birthdays and holidays that are harder than others.

How to show up for me: Let me know that you know it’s a hard day and you’re thinking about me. Ask what my plans are for the day and if I need any company.

I both long for things to be normal and am acutely aware that they aren’t.

When I ask what you’ve been up to, I’m not just changing the subject—I really want to know. Talking about something else can feel like a huge relief, and if you’re someone I feel comfortable with, I’d love to hear about you.

How to show up for me: Be willing to participate in awkward conversations and try to read how I’m feeling. Offering to do a side-by-side activity, like going for a walk, can take some of the pressure off and be restful for me.

Consistency is key.

The more I hear from you or see you, the more comfortable I’ll feel and the sooner we can find a new pattern in our relationship. Thank you for sticking it out with me when many people have given up.

How to show up for me: Don’t give up if I don’t text you back right away. I’m reorienting myself in my new normal, but I do want you to be a part of it.

Just keep showing up.

I rarely remember any of the things my friends have said when they haven’t known what to say, but I’ve always remembered who was there with me.

How to show up for me: Remind me through your actions that we’ll remain close friends.

On the other side

The thing about grief is that you never become an expert. Just recently, a few of my friends have been through heartbreaking losses, and I’ve been unsure of how to show up or what to say.

But thankfully, our job isn’t to fix their pain or prescribe a remedy; it’s just to do what we’ve always done—show up and be their friend.