Chapter 3: How others respond to your friend’s death

Your friends

I’ve been there
Sheila speaks about how it was difficult for friends to be involved with Mauril's care and how caregiving for him impacted her own grieving.(3:22)Video transcript

Many of my friends were very awkward about how to respond to my grief. They would email me or send cards that said “thinking of you” or “sending thoughts and prayers,” but the messages felt hollow, like it was something they were doing or saying because they were supposed to.

It feels like our whole circle of friends has shifted since she died. She was the one that kept us all so connected.

You may have some friends who knew the person who has died, and others who do not. Some friends may be grieving alongside you. Some friends may be providing you with comfort and support, while others may not “be there” in ways that you expected them to be. There can be a variety of reasons for this. Roll your mouse over each of the boxes below to view three examples of possible reasons.

Example #1



They may have had little or no experience with death, dying, and grief.


Example #2



They may feel helpless and afraid of saying or doing the “wrong” thing.


Example #3



They may have other issues and demands in their own lives that have taken their attention and time.


What may help

You and your friends who knew the person who died may find comfort in sharing your grief. You might choose to create memorials, rituals, or other ways of marking your loss. You might be able to talk about shared experiences, funny stories, or memories.

You may notice that relationships within your circle of friends are shifting or changing. Try to be patient and kind to yourself and to others around you as everyone is coming to terms with their loss.

If you’re not getting the support you need from friends, consider letting them know what you need. You may also want to reach out to others, such as family members, your family physician, a grief counsellor, or a peer support group for grieving people.