Grieving a Sudden Death: Coping with the Loss of a Friend

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Nothing can adequately prepare you for grieving a sudden death. You may not think you take life or the people in your life for granted. Learning that one of your friends has died makes you realize how tremendously fragile life truly is. Perhaps you recently corresponded with that friend. Knowing he or she died a sudden, tragic death makes you feel shocked, dismayed, and disoriented.

When grieving a sudden death involves suicide

If we learn that a friend of ours has died in a fatal car accident, it evokes feelings of immense sorrow and mourning. Such wounds take time to heal. Every person must find his or her own way to process the sadness. Learning that a friend has committed suicide — there is truly no way to prepare for this. I know, because it has happened to me several times.

Last year, I received a friend request on Facebook from someone I knew in high school. It was delightful to reconnect with her. I enjoyed seeing pictures of her beautiful family. In December, I posted an image of a pretty bouquet of balloons on her timeline for her birthday. This week, I learned she took her own life.

Allow others in when grieving a sudden death

Most people who commit suicide do so because they have reached a point of despair. They felt alone, no matter how many people they had in their lives that loved them. We shouldn’t be alone when we grieve their loss. It helps to talk to others, especially those who share a connection with the same friend.

My high school graduating class is a closely knit group although many of us moved away from our hometown shortly after high school or college. Through social media and reunions, we keep in touch and share an unbreakable bond. Grieving a sudden death is never easy. Somehow, it becomes bearable when you join your heart with others in prayer for your friend’s soul and for the comfort of those who were left behind.

Never be afraid to reach out

I had sensed that my friend was feeling stressed in life. She had gone through a nasty divorce and had to sell her home of many years, then experienced problems with her new place. Several times, I felt compelled to send a private message. I worried she might think I was prying or intruding, so I didn’t. I will regret that as long as I live.

If you think someone is sad or depressed or struggling in life, don’t be afraid to send a note. You might save a life. Grieving a sudden death makes you keenly aware that we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. It also reminds us that offering encouragement and support is never out of line, even if the person doesn’t receive it well. If your heart is in the right place, then it’s the right thing to do.

Moving on in life while grieving a sudden death

Life goes on, even within the hour of learning that a friend has committed suicide. We somehow have to allow ourselves to grieve while simultaneously determining to live our lives to the fullest. It’s also critical that we be willing to reach out for help if we ever find ourselves struggling as a friend once did.

We can cherish the memories we hold dear to honor our friends. As we continue our own life journeys, we carry them with us. Soon after grieving a sudden death, we’ll likely resume our normal daily routines. Hopefully, we’ll pay a bit closer attention to what a blessing life is. We’ll recognize how special it is to have family and friends who love us and a God who never forsakes us.

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