Supporting suicide families

Dear Annie: I read your articles in my local paper. I know it’s hard to always find the right answer for someone, as some may agree with you and some may disagree. It is now that I come to you for some words of wisdom. I hope someone else out there like me will read this and help gather some advice to send our way, too.

We had a close friend kill himself recently. It was devastating to everyone, especially for his family. I still find myself trying to find the right words to say to the family members. When I see them, I really don’t want to ask, “How are you doing?” I know that opens the wounds every time they hear that, and I know it’s killing them, too. But I also know they would consider me insensitive if I were not to say anything about things at all. What is something proper to say or ask? You’re never prepared for this, and there is no simple etiquette regarding this delicate subject. — Sudden Loss for Words in TN

Dear Sudden: I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re right; there is no simple etiquette in the face of pain that is so profound and personal. Don’t worry yourself about finding the right words to say. Your feelings will surpass your phrasing.

Extend your warmth to the family members the next time you see them by letting them know you’re thinking of them, even if they need some space for the time being. Tell them, in your own words, that you will always be there for them in whatever capacity they need. What matters is that you are a loving presence in their lives.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at