Adapted from recent online discussions.
Question: A dear friend just found out her brother is dying from cancer. The friend and brother are young, so this is quite a horrible surprise. The friend lives in my city. The brother is long-distance. I don't know the brother. Any ideas on how I can be of the most use to my friend as she tries to support her brother and cope with his diagnosis herself?
Answer: Oh, so sad. Maybe the best thing you can do is expect and accept that she will be erratic during this time - her feelings and moods will be jagged, her ability to be your friend will be all over the place, she will overreact to X and underreact to Y. If you can be a patient, soft place for her, then you will be of enormous value.