The death of a friend is a loss that many of us will face more than once. Yet because we aren’t “related” to our friends, we often tell ourselves that our grief is not as deep or our loss is not as significant as their family. But for many, this could not be farther from the truth. Your friend may have been your life-long person. Someone you counted on and shared your deepest secrets. For many, a friend can be as strong of a relationship as if you were siblings. Remember, your grief is valid and should be recognized by both you and your support community – other friends, family, or partners. You need to recognize your right to grieve.
As mentioned in the main Understanding Grief section, your grief will be individual and unique. How you grieve and for how long will be different than for anyone else, and you need to allow yourself to grieve in your way.
The death of a friend can be complicated.
The loss of a friend in adulthood can have many meanings. It is the loss of someone with whom you chose to share your life – your time, your thoughts and your activities. This person may have been an integral part of your life, regardless of how often you may have spoken or seen each other. We often have friends with whom we don’t speak for weeks or months; the daily tasks associated with work or family might preclude frequent communications. But when we speak, we pick up the conversation as if it had just ended a few hours before. With many friends, depending on tenure, he or she shared common memories and experiences with you. When death takes your friend, it also takes away one of your connections to the past and a presence you had counted on in the future. Consequently, a constant is gone.
Some adults who have lost a friend experience a change in their relationship with their other friends – they may question the value of those friendships or invest more heavily in them, realizing that constancy is not guaranteed. During your bereavement, it’s important to surround yourself with those who can support you and acknowledge your grief. It may be helpful to read and share the Mourner’s Bill of Rights.
There are some valuable ideas for coping with grief found within this site, as well as recommended readings in the column on the right. There are also online and local groups for those who have lost a loved one — being part of a community of people who have suffered a similar loss may be helpful.