The Impact of a Close Friend’s Death

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After a close friend’s funeral at funeral homes, we may find ourselves struggling to get back a sense of normalcy or fighting our way through deep and intense feelings of loss and sadness. The trauma of losing a close friend has seldom been thoroughly studied, but recent research suggests that it lasts longer and is much greater than was previously thought to have been.

New research from The Australian National University has found that the length of time that we experience trauma from the death of a close friend is four times longer than what researchers had believed it to be. This lack of recognition of the impact that losing a close friend has on people means that the support needed during the grieving process is often short-lived and not adequate enough.

Previous research into the impact of losing a close friend suggested that the average period of grief lasted around a year. This new research shows that the trauma and the grieving process lasts around four years.

The study analyzed data from the latest Household, income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. Researchers took the surveys of 25,515 Australians and determined that 9,586 of them had experienced the loss of a close friend. The impact on their lives was significant.

These 9,586 people who’d lost at least one close friend showed steep declines in physical health, emotional stability, mental health, and social life when compared to the rest of the survey group of people. Recovering from the loss of a close friend, the researchers found, negatively and deeply impact every aspect of life for up to four years.

While intense grieving for children, parents, spouses and siblings is recognized as a long-term trauma, the loss of close friends has never been considered to be as great as that of losing family.

However, when the anatomy of close friendships is examined, especially close friendships that span years and decades, the ties between close friends is very much like familial ties. They may have grown up together, shared important events like marriages, births, career advancements, divorces, loss of parents, and empty-nesting. They may have met in school and become lifelong friends, maintaining the closeness no matter where life took them, and foraging bonds that were as strong, if not stronger in some cases, than those they had with their own siblings.

Close friends tend to share all of life with each other, and that means that there is a lot of trust, a lot of love, a lot of support, and a lot of encouragement that flows through a close friendship. Sometimes close friends know all the secrets and love anyway.

When a close friend dies, suddenly there is a void for that kind of trust, support, encouragement, and love, even if the person living has a close and loving family relationship. It’s on a different level and on a different plane, so the person who survives may suddenly feel lost, alone, and abandoned, and this can have dramatic consequences in terms of health, mental and emotional well-being.

If you find yourself needing help when a close friend dies, please reach out to our empathetic and knowledgeable staff at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home can assist you. You can stop by our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can contact us today at (607) 722-4023.