Photo: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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"That's awful."
Sometimes, the nicest thing you can do is not to ask a bunch of probing, sensitive questions ("So what are you really feeling? Shock? Terror?"). Or try to think of way you can fix it ("Have you looked into natural herbs? Have you called those clinics in Bora Bora?"). Or to offer to help ("I'll drive you! I'll clean your house! I'll make you a lasagna!"). Or even to apologize over and over, explaining that you know that you didn't make the horrible event happen, you're just sorry it happened. Sometimes you need to take you out of it. A person in your life is upset and scared and maybe even in denial. Recognizing what's really happening gives that person the rare and much-needed opportunity to look at this terrible thing with somebody, instead of alone.