The loss of a friend is often a silent grief. While you may experience intense feelings, have a hard time concentrating at work, and feel great pain, society goes about its business and does not often acknowledge how you are hurting. We tend to minimize many losses outside of the nuclear family. It is normal to feel many intense feelings and to struggle with your daily routine and functioning, even if others do not acknowledge your pain. When we lose people we love or care about, we grieve and the intensity of that grief depends on that person’s importance to you and how you are processing their death. Sometimes a friend’s family may not include you or you do not have a relationship with them. So, consider proactive ways to cope and express your grief.
Here are some things to consider:
Reach out to the family – families often times appreciate hearing stories about their loved ones from friends. It helps them build memories, shows how important the person was to others, and helps them with their grief. It is also a good way to establish an ongoing and deeper connection to the person who died because you’ll likely learn, laugh, and grow too.
Identify a good listener – find someone who will not minimize your grief or make it about them. A good listener will try to understand , not interrupt you; not tell you what to do or that you are doing it wrong. A good listener is a good companion.
Do something in memory of your friend – there are many walks to participate in and there are many charities/nonprofits that would benefit from a gift or volunteer service in memory of your friend. If you can’t do good by making a commitment in that way, consider other meaningful ways to “pay it forward” and make the world a little better place, even if it is simply adding a bigger tip for the waiter or making the effort to be extra friendly or helpful in your daily life.
Assemble friends – friends often have different, maybe even more colorful, stories than family. If you share friends with the person who died, consider assembling them and building support among each other.
Get creative – we tend to rely on traditional ways to express our grief, such as a funeral. However, you may not be able to attend or it is private for family only. That might make you feel excluded and that’s hard. However, you can have a memorial service with dear friends, go on a day trip, visit memorable places that you shared with your friend, or build your own sense of connection and ritual to express your grief.