Chapter 2: A different kind of loss

If the person who died was a friend

The grief expert says
Serena speaks about how secondary losses and the impact these have on grief.(3:22)Video transcript

A mutual friend called to tell me the news because I lived out of town. I was so shocked; I couldn’t believe it. We had made plans for him to come visit me after the holidays. We even had tickets to a concert. How could this be real?

She was my best friend. I think of her every day and wonder how I could have helped her in some other way. I miss her.

The death of a friend by suicide can be a significant and difficult loss. Whether your friendship was a very close bond or one that was sometimes troubled, your grief will reflect losses unique to your relationship.

You may find that your loss is not recognized or acknowledged by those around you in a way that reflects the importance of your relationship or the impact of your friend’s death on your life.

Others who knew your friend, including their family, will also be grieving, but perhaps in ways very different from yours. When family and circles of friends are living with their own grief, some of your usual sources of support may be less available to you. 

Additional or “secondary” losses

After the death of your friend, you may be surprised or caught off guard as you notice additional or “secondary” losses. These are other losses that happen because the death has occurred. These losses are valid and can have a significant impact on your life and on your grief.  

Click on the arrows below and watch the video to see examples of additional or secondary losses.

These losses are unique to the relationship you have with the person who died. Acknowledging and naming them can help you to better understand and cope with your grief. 


What may help

  • Whatever your thoughts and feelings, remember they are a normal part of grief and will usually change over time.
  • Take some time to explore your feelings. This can deepen your understanding of your friend, yourself, and your relationship.
  • Recognize that not everyone will view the person who died or their death in the same way. Some may have knowledge about the person who died that others do not.
  • Try to talk openly and honestly, considering the needs of others.

Helpful resources - Module 15 - When your friend has died - Module 16 – When your co-worker has died