It is crucial for the amputee to receive support. People facing major life events such as this need help from the people around them in order to survive the stress associated with amputation. Don't go overboard and pretend to understand if you don't - just listen and be there when the person needs you. Assist with practical things. Sometimes you will need to be a fly on the wall, and at other times your presence will be enough. Eventually your family member / friend will come to terms with their loss, but they will need your help.
If your family member / friend is depressed, don't belittle or make fun of how he or she is feeling and acting. You will need a lot of patience, understanding and warmth. Depressed people are not fun to be around, but this does not lessen their need to be around others. If the situation demands it, try to convince your loved one to seek help, or if necessary seek it for them.
Encourage your family member / friend to seek out and talk to other amputees, because they understand. Most can provide great evidence that life does go on. Many amputees are involved in support groups that make a point of visiting new amputees. Find the closest support group and arrange a visit with the acceptance of your family member / friend.Read about and become familiar with the process of amputation and get to know this new side of your loved one. You might be surprised, but some amputees report that their life took a turn for the better after they were amputatedMost importantly give the person time to adjust, be patient and listen.
Your well-being as the relative or friend of an amputee is also important, as a person in a difficult situation needs a strong shoulder to lean on.
You may experience a feeling of loss and sadness, and should be aware of your own reactions. Don't let your well-being take second place for very long and don't expect the new amputee to be acutely aware or concerned about your health. You may be experiencing some difficulties yourself but you, like the new amputee, will eventually adjust, especially if you take an active role in making life better for your loved one and yourself.
National Mental Health Association : What is depression
The Journey through adulthood: Bee, Helen. (1996)
Therapy for amputees: Engstrom, B., Van de Ven, C. (1999)