When a friend loses an aunt, a simple note can be a good way to express your condolences. Whether you send a pre-printed card, a handwritten note or an email, expressing genuine sorrow and sympathy is a must, explains Certified Thanatologist Helen Fitzgerald. Although it can be difficult to know what to say, Fitzgerald recommends skipping clichés, such as “I know how you feel” or “call me if you need anything.” Instead, she recommends sharing a positive memory of the aunt, if you knew her, or simply expressing sadness that your friend is going through a tough time.

Gestures of Condolence

If your friend was a caregiver to her aunt or is closely involved in the funeral planning, the nonprofit website HelpGuide suggests offering “practical assistance” such as helping your friend with errands or household tasks. Likewise, taking your friend to lunch or a movie can be a good way to help her relax as she mourns the loss of her aunt. When you are with your friend, keep Fitzgerald’s suggestions for condolence letters in mind when making conversation. Instead of trying to convince your friend to feel better, simply be there to listen to her and support her as she grieves, even if that means listening in silence.