A friend who is widowed says this question is a hot button for her. She would love to answer, “Dreadful; I just lost the love of my life.” But she too takes the high road and answers “Okay.”
The expression that always irked me was “Call me if you need anything.” It’s tough for someone bereaved and grieving to pick up the phone and ask for help. Chances are they don’t have the energy to call or have no idea what to ask for. And what if they do call and ask for your help and you say you’re not available or you can’t do it? It’s painful to be rejected but even more so when grieving a loss.
So what can you say? Ask, "How are you doing today?" or, “How are you doing with all this?” An alternative to give me a call is “What can I do to help?” Or, be more specific; “Can I bring dinner on Thursday?” or, “I’m on my way to the grocery store; what can I pick up for you?”
Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before speaking. How would you feel if asked this question? How would you like someone to help you? Empathy goes a long way in helping a friend or loved feel your support.