Take what happened. It is not easy to talk about death, and many find it difficult to raise the subject. However, avoiding the question just because it's inconvenient will not help your friend. Maybe you think that discussing other issues is a good distraction, but a person who suffers will not find it easy to laugh at your jokes or chat about frivolous subjects. Ignoring the biggest problem in his life is not the right way to support it, so be brave enough to bring the issue into play, instead of behaving inappropriately as if nothing had happened.
Do not be afraid to say the word "dead". Do not say: "I knew what happened". He says, "I heard your grandmother died." When you tell the truth, even if painful, show your friend that you are willing to talk about the hardest aspects of life. He needs someone who understands it and is able to discuss it.
Name the person who died. Saying the name of the deceased could make him cry, but it will help him to understand that, despite the departure, it is still important for other people.
Express concern. Explain to your friend that you are sorry for the death of this relative. Show him your displeasure and tell him that you love him, to comfort him. Even hugging or resting a hand on his shoulder can allow you to communicate your regrets for what you are facing. He says: "I'm sorry".
If you knew the missing person, share memories with your friend and make a list of his best qualities. Talking about everything that made the deceased special can help your friend feel a little better despite the loss he suffers.
If you and your friend are religious, offer to pray for him and his family. If it is not, tell him that you think of him and that you are deeply sorry for his loss.
Be honest. Since talking about death is difficult, it can be difficult to express your most sincere feelings in front of your friend. However, using one of the many stereotypes that people pull off to facilitate conversations about death will actually not be very useful. If your most honest emotions are external, you will seem more sincere, and your friend will be more likely to turn to you when he needs someone to listen to him. Avoid making statements like "You're in a better place" or "He would like you to be happy right now". After all, you do not know if it's the truth, right? Listening to these empty phrases is not very useful. If you have difficulty expressing your feelings in words, you can try to say a phrase like: "I was speechless, I can not express the regret I feel".
Ask How are you
Ask him/her how he/she is. Maybe assume it's a trivial question, but many people fear to ask it, or do not want to face the answer at all. When your friend goes to work or is in the presence of acquaintances, he probably pretends that everything is fine. That's why, if you're a good friend, giving him enough space to talk can be quite useful. You must be ready to accept his answer, even if it is difficult to hear.
Do not judge. Let it be itself, whatever it means. Everyone reacts differently to the loss of a relative, and there is no unequivocally right or wrong answer. Of course, maybe your friend has a reaction you never expected, but it's important to allow him to express his feelings without judgments.
Get ready to get to know your friend more deeply and experience behaviors that you may not be used to. Despair and pain can emerge in many different ways. He may be in a state of denial, anger, drowsiness or feel another million emotions due to loss.
Do not say "Time heals wounds". Time can also ease the initial pain, but when a loved one dies, life is no longer the same. Proponents of this idea almost seem to suggest that there is an expiration date for pain: at the end, people should feel "normal" again. However, for many this does not happen. Instead of channeling the energies to help your friend "turn the page", he tries to be a source of support and happiness in his life. Never press him to overcome mourning as fast as possible. Forget the "five stages of pain". There is no real timeline to deal with suffering, and all manage it differently. To think that dealing with pain means overcoming a series of stages can be useful for someone, but for many others it is not a valid theory. Do not expect your friend to follow you.
Do not say: "You are so brave". It's a simple and apparently kind sentence, but it can make people who suffer suffer worse. Why? If you say to someone who is brave, this person may think that you expect a certain strength from him despite suffering. When someone loses a loved one, he may have some difficult times, stumble and fall. If you love your friend, you know his world is upside down, so you should not expect him to always behave bravely