One of the things I have found interesting on this journey is discovering which friends have the courage to 'go there' and have the hard discussions with you when life is tough - and which friends retreat into silence.
I know that most people who stay silent do so because they don't know what to say or they fear saying the wrong thing. The problem with staying silent is that without realising it - or even intending it - silence says something loud and clear.
Staying silent refuses to acknowledge the reality of what someone is going through. Silence gives a resounding message - one that pretty much says I don't want to know what you're going through.
The more insidious problem with silence though is that it also gives the message 'Don't talk about it' to someone who is struggling.
Don't talk about what's really going on.
It's not OK to tell it like it is.
Regardless of whether you speak or stay silent the person's situation still exists. It is what it is whether it is acknowledged or not. Other people may feel very differently to me, but I think it is better to speak than to stay silent. Obviously that is not a hard and fast rule because there have been a few awful things people have said to me over the years - but aside from those who are truly clueless - I think it is better to say something.
Acknowledge what is really going on.
Give people permission to speak if they wish.
Don't judge if they say outrageous things while they are processing their thoughts.
But most of all - don't be silent.