Advice is not help. It's easy to understand that when you are on the receiving end, but we still can't seem to understand that when we are on the giving end.
It is not helpful to:
- Tell people what to do.
- Tell people how to feel, i.e. "don't worry" or "cheer up."
What is helpful? I can think of two things:
- Being present. Listening. Calling. Sending a card. Spending time with someone. Saying "I am here for you," or "How can I help," or "I'm sorry," or "That's difficult."
- Material support. What the person needs will depend on the situation, but it may be things like giving someone a ride, making phone calls on someone's behalf, picking something up at the store, preparing meals, washing dishes, or watching the kids.