Dear Amy: I have a dear friend who lives across the country.

She recently lost a very close friend to a very sudden unexpected death.

All loss is horrible, and especially difficult during this pandemic, but I'm concerned that her grief is far over the top if they were indeed just "friends."

He was married, and she often spoke of his wife, but I've long thought he and she were more than friends.

I'm not judging. I'm not curious. I just want to help her. Since he died, she has been dropping hints that they were not just friends. Apparently, they were together every day, she cooked dinner for him every night, he took her out to eat at expensive restaurants, took her to concerts and movies, and they traveled together.

She is miserable and very depressed, and I'm worried about her. I'm wondering if I should just ask about their relationship, so she has someone to talk to.

I think you mourn for a lover differently than you mourn a friend, and all I want to do is support her. I'm starting to wonder if she's waiting for me to ask. I honestly do not care if he was married. Should I ask her to divulge?

Amy says: Because you sense that your friend wants to express more than she is saying, you should frame your query in a way that opens the door, but doesn't push her to walk through it until she is ready.

You could try saying, "I'm worried about you. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I want you to know that you can talk about this loss with me as much as you want, without fear that I will judge you or ever violate your privacy."

Being in regular touch will be helpful, even if she doesn't always respond. Texting or e-mailing her regularly — without always prompting her to discuss her loss — will remind her of your supportive presence.

Parenting elderly parents

Dear Amy: For me, your recent question from the reader who was losing sleep about her elderly parents' irresponsible behavior during the pandemic really resonated. She described them going out, meeting with friends and not being careful enough about their own health and safety.

I have felt freaked out for the past eight months, worrying that my parents are behaving the same way. I can't prove it, but I don't think they are being careful enough.

Amy says: The concerns frequently expressed by people about their elderly parents during the pandemic really do echo the worries and frustrations parents experience with their teenagers. It is a delicate balance: Making sure that people have the knowledge and tools to exercise good judgment, trusting them, and then — in the middle of the night — hoping for the best.

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