What can you actually do to support those in grief, those dealing with illness, or recovering from trauma?
Be Present. You might just spend time hanging out with this person. Grab a cup of coffee. Go out to lunch. Personally, I am the person that shows up 3 weeks later when everyone else has went on with their own lives.
Keep it Practical. Sending flowers is nice, but doing something for the person is more helpful. Text often just to check in. Run errands for them or pick up groceries. Cook dinner for the family. Bring over take-out and stay a while. Offer rides to lawyers, doctors, medical treatment, and therapy. Go in to lend support if asked.
Ditch the Platitudes. In these times it is hard to know what to say. Don’t say anything if you aren’t sure. Saying things like: “everything happens for a reason.” isn’t helpful. In fact it can be dismissive of the person’s feelings. Think before you speak, would what your saying be helpful to you in the same situation. When I had cancer several people asked me what awful thing I had done to deserve cancer. What is caring and supportive about that? Keep it loving. Keep it about them. If they want to talk about it, listen patiently. Even if they already told you all of that. If they don’t want to talk, chat about everyday things. You would be surprised what a relief it can be to hear a little gossip just like you are still a real person not just a victim of crime, nature’s fury, illness, or death.