Offering Pretend Lasagna
There are fewer questions less answerable than "What can I do to help?" It's bad enough when lobbed at a harried hostess, but even more unanswerable for someone who's really struggling. The urge to ask is understandable: Chances are, you don't know what someone who has suffered a terrible loss or is struggling with some unthinkable disease has gone through. So you ask the question 47 times, and when the person doesn't have a response, you throw your hands up and think, "Well, I tried..." And here's the thing: You do get friend credit for trying. But you get even more for actually doing. Are they not responding to calls but seem happy to get emails? Are they drop-in averse? Start with a small, concrete way to make the day easier, whether it's having groceries delivered or coming over to walk her dog, and do it in the least obtrusive manner possible.