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How to Deal With a Friend's Death

Losing a friend is never going to be easy. Keeping your own sense of calm and maintaining your friend's memory are important elements of the grieving process. Accept that this is going to be a very hard time in your life but be reassured by the reality that you will get through this and that the best way to honour your friend is to retain his or her memory always alive in your heart.


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    Think of the good times. Recall fond memories of things you've shared together and remember those. Do not play over the tragedy that took his or her life.
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    Write poetry, listen to music you like, spend some time alone to reflect. Make it a point to replay the funny or even goofy moments you both shared. Doing things that remind you of your friend will help you attach positive feelings to thoughts of your friend, even if you cry the entire time you're doing it at first.
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    Accept help that others might give you. Lean on family and friends.
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    Write a eulogy for your friend and read it at the funeral. Visit the grave. Lean on faith. If you believe in God, then pray for your friend, and for yourself and his or her other friends and family.
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    Allow yourself to feel sad. Don't let anyone tell you how long you should feel sad, or how sad you should feel. The loss of a friend affects different people in different ways, but it is painful no matter what. Do remember that it is pain that must simply be endured, like a broken arm - there are things you can do to alleviate it for a little while, but it will eventually hurt again until it fully heals. Believe it or not, as painful as this loss is, it will fully heal in time.
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    Talk to your friend. This might sound weird, but it'll help. Tell your friend how you feel, that you miss him or her; talk over things that are happening in your life, and how different things are since your friend can't be with you. Tell your friend that you take him or her with you wherever you go, that he or she is always in your heart. Go for grief counseling or pick up some books on grief and how to handle the pain you feel.
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    Get enough sleep - or at least rest. Often, soon after the death of a loved one, we are plagued by bad dreams, or sad ones, and sleep seems scary and impossible. Lie down in a darkened room, and if you find it hard to sleep, at least put on some soothing music, or let the TV play softly in the background. The music or words from the television can help direct your dream state a little, keeping you from re-cycling your grief through your dreams. Do know, though, that our subconscious mind processes situations and helps us deal with things, so don't avoid your dreams, though some may make you wake up sad.
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    Resume your place in the world. Once you feel better, go out with your friends and do things you like to take your mind off the pain. Distracting your thoughts for a while will not make you forget your friend forever. Dwelling on your own pain doesn't honor your friend's memory - having a big, bold life, and remembering your friend with love and affection as you do is what your friend would want you to do.
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    Make a scrapbook of your friend's life. Include photos of him or her from when he or she was young through to older age. Include fond memories in this scrapbook - write captions or remembered stories next to the pictures. Look at it when you are feeling down, and share it with other friends.
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    Do something cool in your friend's honor. If your friend liked to ride his or her bike, find out when the next MS ride is, and ride in your friend's honor. Or if he or she battled cancer, check with the Cancer Society and do a Walk For the Cure or something similar. Donate any funds you raise in your friend's name. This gives great honor to your friend's memory, and does something positive in the world at the same time.


  • Loss is a horrible blow to the body and mind, it takes a long time to even wrap your head around the absence of the person you once knew, whether it was someone young or old. It is okay to have feelings of deep sadness, numbness, detachment and anger.
  • The world will feel especially rough and indifferent to your grief. For you, it seems like the end of the world, and it just seems wrong that the world can go on without your friend so easily. Your loved one has died, yet people are still going out and getting their mail everyday, cars are going by, business as usual. Seek out places and things that serve as a refuge to you, even if it's just staring at the wall for an hour. Do what you need to do to carry on, one day at a time.
  • Don't start giving yourself a hard time about not being able to assimilate into society right away. Give yourself time to deal with the blow of grief. You will find that it comes and goes in waves, you may be fine one day, and devastated the next.
  • You may be isolating yourself from close friends because you are afraid - to love is also to open up to potential strife and pain and perhaps even another death. Spending some time in solitude is okay but allow yourself to reach out to others who love you - even a phone call can sometimes do wonders.
  • You may find that you feel cut off from your other friends, or that some of them avoid you. Unfortunately, some of our closest friends just aren't capable of dealing with death, and you may be surprised at who is able to step up to help you through this time.
  • Keep a notebook and write notes to him/her daily. You could even put it in a place where you spent time with that friend. Remember It's always okay to be sad!
  • While you are in pain, people who have not experienced the death of a loved one may say insensitive things that are well meant, but not helpful. Gently excuse yourself from these people, now is not the time for you to have to worry about them.
  • If you could have helped them in one way or another don't blame yourself. forgive yourself. Easier said then done, but would your friend want you to live in misery for the rest of your life?
  • This may sound impossible, but try to eat and drink and get enough sleep. Even if it's hard, even if you are having nightmares, even if you can't eat anything but broth. Do what you can, ask friends to be nearby, ask them to feed you, to remind you to eat, to open doors and windows and let the sunlight in. Sunlight, food, rest and hydration can all help ease turbulent emotions and make mood swings a little bit easier to handle.
  • You do not have to forget them, but eventually you have to move on.
  • Always build on with memories with new or currently living friends. You cannot stop enjoying your life with others that are still alive.
  • If your friend had a family or other close friends, try and think about them. It's possible they may be feeling as worse as you are. Try to help them in any way you can. It will take your mind off your own grief.


  • Psychiatry and tranquilizers cannot cure normal responses. It is normal to grieve after the death of a friend or loved one. If you are unable to function at all, seek help and perhaps tranquilizers to get you through the worst of the pain. But understanding that grief takes time to process is key to your recovery. Think about it: what sort of person would find it easy to go on after such a loss? What sort of person would be able to deal with death and not have any pain or feelings of loss, and just go on with life as if nothing had happened? Not the sort of person you are. You loved this person, and now he or she is gone from your life, and that's sad and it hurts. It will take some time before you're able to go through a day without being keenly aware of how that hurts. But your friend would not want to rob you of your joy in life, so honor your friend's memory, and get up and do the best you can, one day at a time.
  • If you have reached a point of depression where you can't support yourself or do the things you used to love doing, if life doesn't seem worth living: Go get support! Take steps to find a therapist, and if it's dire, call the suicide hotline: 1-800-657-7689

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Categories: Coping with Loss