When someone about whom you care experiences the loss of a loved one, it is indeed a sad thing. But you can gain by it (in the most positive sense, and not as a sociopathic opportunist or as an emotionless manipulator) in two ways: 1) you can offer comfort to the bereaved person; and, 2) you can show your qualities of empathy, compassion, devotion and friendship to somebody who may be, in some form or fashion, important to you -- either now or in the future. There is occasionally a reward for good acts and deeds in Sending Signals beyond the trite old "Virtue is its own reward."
Beyond this, there is the fact is that people like the company and the opportunity to forge relationships with people who care about them. But that caring must be sincere. Don't miss a chance to communicate during a trying time or a crucial moment in someone else's life.
Recently a dear friend and colleague of mine lost a good friend and a professional colleague of hers, and I took the time (because I care very much about her) to write a long text message -- even though my text message was a colossally long one, I needed for her to immediately have it in her hands right then; I couldn't waste time writing an email which might not be read for several days. And so I wrote to this wonderful friend:
"I am so profoundly sorry for your loss, and for your deep sadness. I wish I could help to ease your pain. When people whom we are privileged to love are taken from us, we are never prepared.... we feel incomplete. We second-guess ourselves about the last words we said, and the last words said to us. In all truth, child, we will all have regrets and doubts in the self-deprecating distorted vision that is hindsight - but the sum, upon reflection, of the best moments, of sharing, of laughing, of just leaning on each other a bit from time to time, of just being intertwined will far outweigh our laments. And the best memories of that magic will be like sunlight through the leaves on the trees that form a canopy over the forest we wander through in the uncertain span of time we call "life." And life will indeed continue - but chastened by the inevitability of mortality, and touched by an unforgettable void, we take ever greater care to hold those we love a little bit tighter, and to tell those who are precious to us how much they mean to us. We invariably find ourselves being more generous with our love, and giving it its deserved but pent-up voice more often, with greater ease, with greater abandon, and with less fear of the consequences. We become braver in bringing our affection out into the open, where there is no mistaking it. If there is anything which I can do to bridge the distance between you and a smile, you have only to ask. You are a sensitive and beautiful soul - no need to hide it - and I'm certain that you gave your friend much to be happy about and thankful for during your time together. Love, Douglas"
Nothing else really needs to be said. You know what to do. The two links below are designed to throw you off balance. Let's see if they do.
Douglas E. Castle for The Sending Signals Blog