- Smart Living
One of My Close Friends Died, and This Is What It Taught Me About Grief
Updated on 3/5/2020 at 1:40 PM
Growing up, the word "death" didn't hold nearly as much weight as it does now. I used to associate it mostly with older relatives, but it still wasn't something I entirely understood. This past year, however, after losing a close friend , I have come to truly feel the destruction that that one small word can bring. It has left me unexpectedly trying to wrap my head around the confusing concept of: how do we live and move forward without the ones we love ? Or, how do we help the people close to us get through the horrible process of grief? Here a few things I've learned during this painful process, and I hope they can help you, too.
1. Change Is Expected . . . and It's OK
One of the first things I had to come to terms with while grieving was that with loss comes change. This might mean that either or both your big and small habits can flip, but all of that is totally normal and OK. For me, this came in the form of wanting to stay in a lot more than usual . Instead of wanting to go out with my friends, I craved drinking tea and watching movies at home. At first, I felt really guilty about this sudden shift in behavior. I kept reminding myself that I'm young, and aren't young people supposed to go out and be wild? But I was emotionally drained all the time, and a warm cup of tea was filling me up more than a beer and trivial conversation could.
I had to learn to be confident in my new choices and realize that they are just as worthy and fulfilling. I also had to learn to trust their timeline. I wasn't sure when I would feel ready to be social again, and that's OK. As scary as these changes might feel, try to embrace them. Find methods and take part in habits that make you feel comfortable and whole again. There's no shame in doing what feels right, especially during a time that can feel very off and wrong.
2. It's OK to Not Be OK
It's OK to ask for help and to not be OK, plain and simple! Struggle comes in many different forms and you don't have to handle it alone . Keep this in mind with your friends, too, because on the surface they may seem perfectly fine, but underneath they could be wrestling bigger demons. If they come to you, listen to them and be there. And always find ways to cope and help yourself as well.
3. Don't Judge
You never know what battles other people are fighting, so try not to be so quick to judge someone's behavior. Grief can take make forms, and that might include someone you know (or don't) acting out in frustrating ways . No, we can't all be best friends, but we certainly don't need to break each other down, either. There's always more than what meets the eye, so be sure to be gentle with others and their mistakes in the same way you would want someone to be gentle with you.
4. Don't Take Life For Granted
Death can make us reflect on our own lives and confront our own mortality in two ways. First, it can be a much-needed reminder that life is short and we should enjoy it as much as we can. But on the flip side, it can also remind us that bad things can happen and that we should always be aware of our surroundings. No, you shouldn't be paranoid of death lurking around every corner (that's no way to live!), but you should make your safety and happiness (physical, mental, emotional) a priority. Find out what truly makes you happy and run with it.
5. It's OK to Move On
This is one of the most important and difficult lessons that I still struggle with, but it's OK to move on and be happy again. When I lost my friend, I remember feeling guilty about continuing my life and moving forward. In the face of death and grief, your daily routine can feel mundane and pointless. However, your loved ones would want you to be happy. Sometimes being alive is the hardest thing to fathom and do, but you've got to keep on going. So, enjoy the blissful moments when they're around, because you have a right to feel happy again.
As time moves forward, I continue to reflect on how my life is changing in so many different ways because of my grief. These are just a few thoughts I have found peace in lately, most of them landing on the reassurance that it's good to welcome emotion into your heart. Feel what you're feeling and find a way to work through it and move on from it. Give yourself grace always and know that somehow, in your own ways, you'll find yourself again.
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My best friend unexpectedly died. here's what i learned about unrelenting grief..
People rarely want to talk about death. Whether it’s about their own death, the death of someone they love or just the concept of death, most people would rather chat about colonoscopies and taxes than discuss something they’re so afraid of and don’t really understand.
I was the same way until I experienced a profound loss just over a year ago. My best friend since the 9th grade died after suffering a grand mal seizure. She went into cardiac arrest and although she was revived, a week later she was pronounced brain dead. Her family made the difficult decision to remove her breathing tube and let her go on her own terms.
We had been friends from adolescence to adulthood and we’d been through every major milestone together. Except for a five-year gap during college when we drifted apart, we were in each other’s lives for over 40 years.
I was there when she got married. I held her children when they were born. I watched her become a gifted teacher. She saw me struggle professionally for years until I finally found my niche. She wiped away my tears over failed relationships. She was there during the biggest crisis of my life when my mother suffered a brain aneurysm. We had built an incredible life together based on understanding, acceptance and love.
When her husband called me that early Monday morning, I couldn’t grasp what he was saying. All I could make out was that she’d suffered some sort of seizure and a Flight For Life had taken her to a trauma center in Portland. “How could this be happening,” I wondered. I had just seen her two days before and she was fine! She was happy and upbeat! I was stunned. And ever since that morning, nothing has ever been the same for me.
After a week filled with hope and disappointment, she was gone. I’m grateful her son put me on speaker phone while he sat next to her in the hospital so I could beg her to wake up and tell her I loved her. But it didn’t matter ― I’d never see my beautiful and amazing friend again.
No more cups of coffee. No more movies. No more shopping in junk shops. No more late-night texting.
It’s been just over a year and I’m still devastated.
After she died, I spent the next few months in a fog. I sell print advertising and my sales took a major dive. I’ll be forever thankful to my boss for being so understanding. This was the height of the pandemic and everything was shut down, so I gave myself permission to shut down, too. I worked virtually so I didn’t have to be my usual upbeat self. Most of my interactions with clients were via email, so I didn’t even have to smile or pretend to be interested in their lives. It took way too much energy to muster any enthusiasm to try and convince people that advertising would help their business. How could I care about their business when my world had been turned upside down? I did whatever I could to just make it through the day. And then another. And then another.
The little energy I did have was channeled into supporting her husband and children. I checked in with her husband almost every day. I had known him for over 30 years, but never really had any deep conversations with him without my friend being present. I had always liked and respected him because he was her husband and she loved him, but now I was learning more about him ― not as her partner but as an individual ― and I began to forge my own bond with him.
“I’ve learned that there is no timeline for grief. There’s no expiration date. Whether it’s been days or decades since you lost someone, it can still hurt as much as the moment they left.”
Grief can be a punishing emotion. Sometimes, it feels like I’m hauling around a giant boulder in my stomach. I sigh a lot as if I’m trying to exhale the pain. I feel wobbly and off balance. I’m often overwhelmed by loneliness even though I’m in a room full of people.
Grief is unpredictable. It comes in waves and when you least expect it. It’s always there and doesn’t care if it’s Christmas or your birthday. It casts a pall over everything you do. It causes anxiety and panic attacks. It causes despair. It affects your job and relationships. It’s like a perpetual storm with too few and too brief breaks to let the sunlight in before the pitch black clouds return.
I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life. I lost my mother and father, both of whom I loved with my entire soul. I’ve lost two of my brothers without warning ― one just 10 months after my best friend died. I’ve lost pets that were so special to me, my world revolved around them. And I’ve discovered that each bout of grief is different. Each loss is unique and painful in its own way.
Grief has taught me about life, too. I found that the friends I thought would be there for me when I needed them, weren’t. And the ones I thought wouldn’t reach out or care, did.
I’ve learned that there is no timeline for grief. There’s no expiration date. Whether it’s been days or decades since you lost someone, it can still hurt as much as the moment they left. You just learn to accommodate the pain. You accept that nothing will ever be the same and try not to have any expectations of returning to the way your life was before the loss. You just live with it.
I’m happy to say there are finally more sunny days than cloudy ones. I can now think of my best friend with more smiles than with tears. I’m grateful I told her how much I loved her and how proud I was of her. She lives on through her son and daughter. I see her compassion, humor and ideals in them every day.
I read somewhere that grief is simply love with no place to go. I’m grateful I got to experience that kind of love because a lot of people never do. And I will try my hardest to go on with my own life as a way to honor hers.
Stephanie Baker lives in McMinnville, the epicenter of Oregon wine country. She sells advertising for a living and in her spare time enjoys writing, watching trashy reality shows and snuggling with her dog, Darby.
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- Loss Of Friend
25+ Quotes to Help You Get Through a Death of a Friend
Updated 12/28/2023 Published 11/19/2019
Cassie Barthuly, BA in English
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Enduring the death of a friend is painful. You may have known them since childhood or attended their wedding. You may have seen them through major life milestones, and vice versa. A friend dying is like losing a family member.
Jump ahead to these sections:
Inspirational quotes about the death of a friend, sad quotes about the death of a friend, quotes about the death of a childhood friend, quotes about the sudden death of a friend, quotes about the death of a best friend, quotes about losing friends who haven't died, songs about losing a friend, how to cope with losing a friend.
Coping with the death of a close friend, especially if it was sudden, is a challenge. How can you cope with overwhelming grief? Sometimes, venting to others or expressing emotions is cathartic. Sometimes, our emotions are too overwhelming to put into words straight away. Fortunately, many writers have put down their feelings after a friend died. Sometimes, it’s easier to let someone else speak for you.
The quotes below are both inspirational and sad. Have a look through and perhaps you’ll find one that captures your emotions during this intense time. Feel free to use these quotes in a eulogy for your friend , reflect on them by yourself, or share them with others.
Share your final wishes, just in case.
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Grief can block out any positive emotions. When you’re mourning a friend, take time to remember all the great memories you have with them.
1. “On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.” —Henry David Thoreau, Author
Carrying on your friend’s legacy is a dutiful task. Trying to live a lesson they taught through their way of life is a way to honor them.
2. “While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.” —John Taylor, President of the Church of Latter-Day Saints
Grief has a way of inducing tunnel vision. Taylor reminds us that if you believe in an afterlife, others want to meet your friend there.
3. “Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before, / Advanced a stage or two upon that road / Which you must travel in the steps they trod.” —Aristophanes, Philosopher
Losing a friend often makes people feel lonely and deserted. Aristophanes reminds us that they’re only a few steps ahead along the road we all walk.
4. “The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one.” —Seneca, Philosopher
The memories of your friend will never fade away.
5. “You cannot stop loving your friend because he's dead, especially if he was better than anyone alive, you know?” —J.D. Salinger, Author
Love transcends all boundaries. It allows people to continue loving after death, even if they can’t see their friends anymore.
Losing a friend is something many people experience. Knowing your feelings are universal doesn’t make it easier, though.
6. “The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired.” —Robert Southey, Poet
Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never get over the grief. It can feel all-encompassing. Southey admits that you’ll get over the pain, but never the loss.
7. “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti, Philosopher
Jiddu’s take on grief allows you to believe that you will never separate from your friend. No matter where they go after death, part of you will be there with him.
8. “Even the best of friends cannot attend each other's funeral.” —Kehlog Albran, Author
No matter how close you and your friend were, death separates you both.
9. “He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Author and Pilot
Sometimes, memories can be more powerful motivators than current experiences. Living in a way that would honor your friend’s memory is motivating.
10. “What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” —Helen Keller, Teacher and activist
Keller states that loss is impossible because love makes people a permanent part of you. If this is true, you’ll never lose your friends.
Childhood friends have an inseparable bond because of the memories you have together. From getting braces to starting college, their impact is incalculable.
11. “The bond between friends cannot be broken by chance; no interval of time or space can destroy it. Not even death itself can part true friends.” —John Cassian, Theologian
Friendship and love are the only things more powerful than death. Even if you don’t see your friend again, your bond still matters.
12. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Psychiatrist
The psychological ramifications of grief get complicated. The idea that grief changes you forever is scary but understandable.
13. "Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day... unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed, and very dear." —Unknown
Feeling abandoned by deceased friends is natural. The idea that they are near to you is a comforting one.
14. “In the garden of memory, in the palace of dreams... that is where you and I shall meet.” —Lewis Carrol, Author
Sometimes, memories and dreams are all you have left. They still provide a meaningful space to emotionally reconnect with your friend.
15. "If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever." —A.A. Milne, Author
True friends will never leave you. This is because you carry on their legacy and memories in your heart.
Sudden death is devastating. There’s no chance to say goodbye, no chance to prepare yourself. One day your friend is healthy and happy, and the next day they’re gone. Dealing with the whiplash of grief is challenging.
16. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Author
If you’re religious, the idea that God is close to you in these moments is comforting.
17. “Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul. I find myself searching the crowds for your face—I know it's an impossibility, but I cannot help myself.” —Nicholas Sparks, Author
Searching crowds for someone’s face, even if you know they aren’t there, is an expression of pure grief. Loneliness sometimes doesn’t follow along with logic.
18. “I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.” —Anne Frank, Author
Misery can swallow up all the good things in your life. Friends and family members that you have left and happy memories can be erased by grief. Frank insists that we focus on the beauty leftover as a survival mechanism.
19. "We need to grieve the ones we have loved and lost in this lifetime—not to sustain our connection to suffering, but to sustain our connection to love.” —Unknown
Closing yourself off from grief feels like a necessary survival mechanism. This quote warns that that approach cuts you off from love, too.
20. “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison, Author
You can’t control how you feel. All you can do is learn how to react to your feelings.
Losing friends that you would go see movies or take a trip with is devastating. Losing someone closer to you than anyone else in the world is unimaginable.
21. "There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains." — Unknown
Maybe your best friend was one of these people. Even though they are gone now, their impact remains.
22. "Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone." —Unknown
Was your best friend kind? Honest? Brave? The best way to honor their legacy is to emulate these traits in your own life.
23. "My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love." —Unknown
It’s easy to wish for nothing more than the pain to stop. This quote testifies that the depth of your grief shows how much love you experienced.
24."Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other." —Leo Buscaglia, Professor
Death has a way of making itself immediate. We don’t have all the time in the world to tell people how much we love them.
25. "Grief is the price we pay for love." —Queen Elizabeth II, Monarch
Loving someone means you’ll grieve them at some point. That doesn’t mean love isn’t worth it.
Sometimes you can lose a friend even if they haven’t died. Broken friendships can be just as painful as losing a close friend in death, and dealing with the aftermath can be challenging.
26. “Friendship plants itself as a small unobtrusive seed; over time, it grows thick roots that wrap around your heart. When a love affair ends, the tree is torn out quickly, the operation painful but clean. Friendship withers quietly, there is always hope of revival. Only after time has passed do you recognize that it is dead, and you are left, for years afterwards, pulling dry brown fibers from your chest.” — Anna Lyndsey
Friendship grows deep roots over time, becoming a part of us. Unlike romantic relationships that might end abruptly, friendship fades slowly, leaving lasting imprints.
27. "I used to know you the best and now I don't even remember your name." — Mya Waechtler, Author
The pain of a broken friendship can be so profound that we might choose to forget even the most basic details. This quote is a testament to how deeply we can be affected by lost friendships.
28. “We can’t feel the loss of a friend until they are apart from us.” — Debolina Dutta, Actress
Only in absence do we truly realize the value of a friend. The depth of loss becomes apparent only when the person is no longer present in our lives.
29. “Friendship is delicate as a glass, once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks.” — Waqar Ahmed, author
Like glass, friendships are fragile. Once broken, remnants of the breakage remain even if you make up.
30. “A friendship that can cease has never been real.” — St. Jerome, Priest
True friendships withstand the test of time. If a bond ends, it might not have been as genuine as we believed.
Losing a friend affects all of us. Some people express their grief by penning songs that serve as touching tributes to a life lost.
1. “Gone Too Soon” by Michael Jackson
This song was written about the death of teenager Ryan White, who was asked to leave school after receiving an AIDS diagnosis. The song was later performed at Jackson’s own funeral.
This song is a tribute to a young life taken too early, emphasizing the fleeting nature of life and the profound impact of loss.
2. “Etta’s Tune” by Rosanne Cash
Rosanne Cash sang this song about the wife of a member of Johnny Cash’s band. The marriage between Etta and her guitarist husband, Marshall Grant, lasted 65 years.
“Etta’s Tune” is a touching ode to enduring love and the pain of losing someone who has been a constant presence in one’s life.
3. “I’ll Remember You” by Thea Gilmore
This song is a beautiful tribute to a lost friend, ending with the words, “My dear sweet friend, I’ll remember you.” It’s a heartfelt promise to always cherish and remember the memories shared with a departed friend.
4. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton
This song speaks about friends and family who have passed on. Stapleton advises against seeking reasons for their departure, suggesting that some answers are beyond our understanding.
This song is a reflection on the mysteries of life and death, and the acceptance of the unknown.
5. “If You Say So” by Lea Michelle
This song is about the death of Lea Michele’s fellow Glee cast member, Cory Monteith. The title, “If you say so,” was reportedly the last words Montheith said to Michele.
The song is a raw expression of grief and the struggle to come to terms with the sudden loss of a close friend.
6. “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
James Taylor penned this song after the tragic death of a close friend. The lyrics touch on the pain of loss and the difficulty of moving forward.
7. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
Originally written as a tribute to the late Paul Walker, this song resonates with anyone who has lost a close friend. It speaks of the hope of reuniting someday.
8. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
Billie Joe Armstrong wrote this song in memory of his father, who passed away when he was a child. The lyrics convey the deep pain and longing that comes with such a loss.
9. “Who Knew” by Pink
Pink reflects on a friend she lost unexpectedly in this song. It touches on the shock of sudden loss and the wish for just one day with the departed.
10. “One More Light” by Linkin Park
This song was written in memory of a friend and became even more significant after the passing of the band’s lead singer, Chester Bennington. It serves as a poignant reminder that every life matters.
Losing a friend is an experience that words often fail to describe. The bond of friendship leaves an indelible mark on our hearts. When that bond is severed by the cruel hand of death, the void can feel unsurmountable.
Yet, it’s important to remember that you can heal and that healing is a journey, not a destination. With time, patience, and the right coping mechanisms, you can find a way to honor your lost friend while rediscovering joy and purpose in your life.
Allow yourself to grieve
Grief is a natural response to loss, and it’s so important to give yourself permission to feel the full spectrum of emotions that come with it. Denying or suppressing your feelings can prolong the healing process.
Remember, there’s no “right” way to grieve. Everyone’s journey is unique. It’s okay to cry, feel anger, or even experience moments of joy as you reminisce about the good times. Embracing your emotions can be therapeutic and pave the way for acceptance and healing.
Leaning on loved ones or seeking professional help can be immensely helpful in times of profound sorrow. Friends, family, therapists, or support groups can offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or even just the comforting presence of someone who cares.
If the weight of your grief feels too heavy to bear alone, consider seeking therapy or counseling. Professionals can provide:
- Coping strategies
- A safe space to express your feelings
- Guidance on navigating the complexities of loss
Create a memorial or tribute
Honoring your friend's memory is another therapeutic way to cope with loss. So consider creating a memorial or tribute in their name, such as:
- A scrapbook filled with photos or mementos
- A dedicated space in your home with their belongings
- A charitable act or foundation in their honor
By celebrating their life and legacy, you keep their memory alive and find a purposeful way to channel your grief into something positive and meaningful.
Grieving a Friend: Gone but Not Forgotten
Dealing with the death of a friend feels impossible. Allowing yourself to feel every emotion is crucial to healing. Whether you write poetry, go through mementos, or read sympathetic quotes, try to work through it gently. Remember that your friend would be proud to see you healing in their memory.
Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
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College essay topic- losing a loved one Answered
Is it a good idea to write about losing a loved one. That event really impacted me, and changed me as a person. Should I write about it ? I feel confused about how to structure my essay
Earn karma by helping others:
Hi! This is a great question!
You can certainly write about losing a loved one and how it changed you. But I have to warn you about one thing. College essays are meant for you to reveal an aspect of you that the admission officers can't see from your academics. I am saying this because a lot of students will write an essay about losing a loved one but instead of reflecting on how it impacted them, they just end up writing a biography of the person itself. Colleges don't want a person's biography; they want to know more about you. So, in your essay, you can briefly talk about the death of the loved one but quickly transition into a reflection of how that event has changed you. Make sure to include specific feelings, thoughts, and anecdotes in your essay to make it come alive.
I am sorry for your loss and good luck with your essay!
Thank you for the sweet message. That's actually very thoughtful. Sometimes we get diverted from the main topic, I will keep that advice in mind
Your welcome!! I also want to say that colleges receive a lots of these types of essays about the death of a loved one. I want emphasize here again the importance of using personal stories, thoughts, etc to make this essay unique and personal to you. Avoid using general sentences and diction. Good luck!
Yes thank you, will keep that in mind. Are you in clg ?
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Death of a close friend: Short and long-term impacts on physical, psychological and social well-being
Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Validation, Writing – original draft
* E-mail: [email protected]
Affiliation School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics, Australian National University, Acton, ACT, Australia
Roles Writing – review & editing
Affiliation Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
Affiliation ANU Medical School, Academic Unit of General Practice, The Canberra Hospital, Garran, ACT, Australia
- Wai-Man Liu,
- Liz Forbat,
- Katrina Anderson
- Published: April 4, 2019
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31 May 2019: Liu WM, Forbat L, Anderson K (2019) Correction: Death of a close friend: Short and long-term impacts on physical, psychological and social well-being. PLOS ONE 14(5): e0218026. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218026 View correction
This paper reports the impact of a major life event–death–on the physical, psychological and social well-being of the deceased’s close friends. We utilised data from a large longitudinal survey covering a period of 14 years (2002–2015) consisting a cohort of 26,515 individuals in Australia, of whom 9,586 had experienced the death of at least one close friend. This longitudinal cohort dataset comprises responses to the SF-36 (health related quality of life measure) and allowed for analysis of the short and longer-term impacts of bereavement. In order to manage the heterogeneity of the socio-demographics of respondents who did/not experience a death event, we use a new and robust approach known as the Entropy Balancing method to construct a set of weights applied to the bereaved group and the control group (the group that did not experience death). This approach enables us to match the two groups so that the distribution of socio-demographic variables between the two groups are balanced. These variables included gender, age, marital status, ethnicity, personality traits, religion, relative socio-economic disadvantage, economic resources, and education and occupation and where they resided. The data show, for the first time, a range of negative and enduring consequences experienced by people following the death of a close friend. Significant adverse physical and psychological well-being, poorer mental health and social functioning occur up to four years following bereavement. Bereaved females experienced a sharper fall in vitality, suffered greater deterioration in mental health, impaired emotional and social functioning than the male counterparts up to four years after the death. The data show that the level of social connectedness plays an important role in bereavement outcomes. Specifically, we found that less socially active respondents experienced a longer deterioration in physical and psychological health. Finally, we found evidence that the death of a close friend lowered the respondent’s satisfaction with their health. Since death of friends is a universal phenomenon, we conclude the paper by reflecting on the need to recognise the death of a close friend as a substantial experience, and to offer support and services to address this disenfranchised grief. Recognising bereaved friends as a group experiencing adverse outcomes can be used internationally to prompt health and psychological services to assist this specific group, noting that there may be substantial longevity to the negative sequelae of the death of a friend. Facilitating bereaved people’s support networks may be a fruitful approach to minimising these negative outcomes.
Citation: Liu W-M, Forbat L, Anderson K (2019) Death of a close friend: Short and long-term impacts on physical, psychological and social well-being. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214838. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214838
Editor: Ilona Papousek, University of Graz, AUSTRIA
Received: January 17, 2018; Accepted: March 22, 2019; Published: April 4, 2019
Copyright: © 2019 Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: The HILDA survey data used in this study belongs to a third party and is available upon request for all researchers (Australians and overseas) through formal subscription to the data provider: http://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/hilda . The authors confirm that they did not have any special access to this data that others would not have.
Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this paper.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
In most circumstances, grief is a natural response to bereavement. As part of the grieving process, people adjust and adapt to their loss, but the level of adaptation, and the corresponding emotional, behavioural, psychological and physical responses differ depending on the bereaved individuals’ age [ 1 – 4 ], ethnicity [ 5 ], personality traits [ 6 – 8 ], religiosity [ 9 – 12 ], resilience [ 13 , 14 ], the support they received [ 15 ], and the relationship they have with the deceased [ 16 , 17 ].
Much of the prior research on bereavement confines the focus to the death of a first-degree relative, often a spouse [ 14 ]. Within this body of work, the focus is generally on how bereavement influences the risk of mortality [ 14 , 18 ], physical health and mental wellbeing of the surviving members [ 14 , 17 , 19 ]. There is an emerging body of work looking at predictors of bereavement outcomes, both theoretically [ 20 ] and empirically [ 21 – 24 ]. The latter has been extended to complicated grief which has attracted a lot of attention over the past decade because of its clinical implication for palliative care support [ 24 ].
Non-kinship bereavement, however, receives surprisingly little attention in the literature, even though it is a ubiquitous experience. Grieving the death of a friend is an experience which receives less social support because the relationship is of lower status than kin, and hence a form of disenfranchised grief [ 25 , 26 ]. Non-kin grief may not be openly acknowledged or expressed, and the psychological or physical impacts of the grief may be regarded as illegitimate [ 26 ]. Therefore, the impact of bereavement of a friend may be trivialised, or at least not afforded the same status, with diminished right to grieve, as that of kin bereavement.
Existing studies on non-kinship bereavement are limited, and they focus almost exclusively on older adults [ 27 – 30 ]. The finding of these studies are mixed, possibly due to heterogeneity between the bereaved and the non-bereaved group. Their sample size are small, and they lack appropriate control variables to address the sociodemographic differences in the sample. Large scale data sets on non-kin relationships are rare, making such study difficult.
A study by Ackerman and his colleagues explored the question “ Is friendship akin to kinship ?” [ 31 ]. Drawing on theories in the psychology and evolutionary biology literature they argued that psychology of friendship may mimic that of kinship [ 32 – 34 ]. Ackerman et al’s findings imply that when a close friend dies, bereavements may be experienced in a way similar to the death of kin. In a large and dense social network, possible reinforcement of distress can reduce the supporting function of the network. For example, when a member of the social network dies, several other members within the network also experience varying levels of distress from bereavement, and this can cause network stress [ 35 ]. Presence of network stress implies a positive association between the density of the network and negative bereavement outcomes.
In contrast to the network stress argument, a recent study used data of more than 15,000 Facebook networks and studied the social network response following the death of a close friend [ 36 ]. They found interactions among friends of decedents intensified and reached a stable level a year after death. This result suggests that social network exhibits resilience and online social interactions represent a form of social support during and after the acute grieving period.
Building on the findings of the bereavement literature and Ackerman et al, we explored the research question of whether bereavement of a close friend exhibits physical and psychological features similar to the death of kin which has been documented in the bereavement literature. More specifically, we hypothesised that even though a person with a broad social network may experience a greater chance of losing a friend, they tend to cope better with grief because their social network may provide a good source of emotional support through the bereavement process, and companionship protects bereaved individuals from despair and loneliness [ 15 , 37 ]. This implies that those who are socially isolated or less engaged with social activity are expected to exhibit less resiliency to grief than those who are socially active [ 38 , 39 ].
Our data came from The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The survey is funded by the Federal Government and is one of the largest longitudinal surveys in Australia starting in 2001 (wave 1) comprising 7,682 households and 19,914 adults. The last wave (wave 15) comprised 17,606 households and 23,292 adults. Samples size varies across waves due to loss to follow-up death or changes in household composition. Further an additional top-up sample was added in wave 11, of 2,153 households (comprising 5,451 individuals).
Survey participants are interviewed and followed annually. The survey collects information on household and family relationships, income, employment, health and education. It comprises four sets of questionnaires; (1) a household form, (2) a household questionnaire, (3) a individual questionnaire for all household members aged 15 years and above, and (4) a self-completion questionnaire (SCQ). Questionnaires are collected at a later date or returned by post. The SCQ contains a rich set of questions including 36 items that were subsequently aggregated into 8 scales measuring various domains of well-being called the Short Form 36 (SF-36) (reference for SF-36). Each of these eight scales are transformed by HILDA into an index ranges between 0 and 100, where 0 is poor and 100 is excellent.
Variables and measures
We utilised the respondents’ SF-36 scores on five domains to measure outcomes of bereavement. The five domains are general health, vitality, mental health, role limitations due to emotional problems and social functioning. A previous study examined the validity of the SF-36 scores reported in the HILDA survey and found that they are comparable to published SF-36 normative data and hence can be interpreted in a similar way [ 40 ]. In addition to the SF-36, we included one additional survey item that asked how satisfied respondents were with their health and overall life, ranging from 0 (totally dissatisfied) to 10 (totally satisfied).
Our analysis relied on a specific set of questions in the survey concerning whether and how long ago (0 to 3 months ago, 3–6 months ago, 6–9 months ago, 9–12 months ago) the respondents experienced a “life event”. The life event analysed for this paper was the death of a close friend. The event timing question allowed us to infer the timing of the death event at the quarterly interval. Using this life event as the “treatment variable” we tracked the short-term and long-term impact of this death on the respondents’ physical and psychological well-being, mental health, social functioning and life satisfaction.
Our longitudinal analysis covered survey responses from wave 2 (2002) to wave 15 (2015). Wave 1 was excluded because it did not contain a survey question on death. Household residents who were not the responding person to the interview or did not complete the SCQ for the life event questions were excluded from our sample. Our final sample size per wave varied depending on whether they responded to the life event questions and to other questions surrounding their well-being and activities (see Table 1 ). Our final sample comprised 26,515 individuals who responded to the life event question on the death of a close friend in one or more waves of data collection. This amounts to a total of 168,104 responses over a 13-year period. Of 26,515 respondents, 9,586 (36%) reported to have experienced the death of a close friend over the past 12 months, which amounts to 18,961 death events.
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The data also report a second question about death, specifically the death of a family member (excluding spouse and child) over the past 12 months. Combining the positive responses of this question (19,522) and the positive responses of the death of a close friend (18,961) gives us a combined percentage of 22%, which was almost perfectly in line with national statistics reported in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) where 22% of Australians experienced the death of a family member or close friend over the past 12 months [ 41 ].
A key variable of interest was participants’ level of social engagement. It was based on the survey question probing the extent to which respondents get together socially with friends/relatives that are not living with them (ranging from 1 (everyday) to 7 (less often than once every 3 months)). Respondents were considered to have a low level of social activity if they met socially at most once every month. We redefined low social activity as meeting socially with family/friends at most 2–3 times per month and we obtained qualitatively similar results.
We matched and controlled for the respondents’ socio-demographics including age, gender, personality trait, religion, ethnicity (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders), marital status, urban/rural residence, and their socio-economic status based on the area they lived. HILDA survey respondents were questioned on their personality traits using a 36-item inventory. We also matched and controlled for the respondents’ five personality traits that may have impact on their social engagement and have a moderating effect on depressive symptoms following death, because they relate the psychological responses to loss [ 42 ]. These variables also relate individuals’ resiliency, adaptive capacities and the ability to cope in response to stressor [ 43 ]. For example, extroverted people may better manage their emotional stress because they are more receptive to support from others. Based on Goldberg’s Big Five personality trait descriptive adjectives approach [ 44 , 45 ], HILDA reports survey items into five personality character traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extroversion and openness to experience. It was reported in waves 5, 9 and 13. Since personality traits are reasonably stable over time, for the purpose of identifying heterogeneity across respondents, we used the average value across the three waves as proxy for each respondent’s personality trait scale. Our results remained largely unchanged when the backfilled values of the respondent’s personality trait scale were used.
Respondents were asked about their religion in waves 4, 7, 10, 14. We created a dummy variable which equalled 1 if the respondent was reported to have any religion and 0 if they have no religion. For non-reporting waves, we backfilled missing values using the first available data. For example, religion data in waves 2 and 3 was backfilled using data from wave 4. For wave 15, data from wave 14 was used.
We also controlled for respondents’ marital status and whether they lived in a remote area. Married couples typically receive support from partners and thus are hypothesised to experience a reduced impact of bereavement.
Finally, based on ABS’s socio-economic indicators for areas (SEIFA) from the 2001 census, we controlled for level of socio-economic disadvantage, the level of economic resources, and education and occupation. The Indices reported in HILDA corresponds to SEIFA scores from the ABS Census data.
In contrast to propensity score matching which is a popular method for estimating the treatment effect in observation studies, EB approach is superior because (i) it does not discard samples with low matching scores so it prevents information loss, and equations (ii) it does not rely on how well the propensity score models are fitted in the first stage to obtain the score weights, as EB directly adjusts the weights to the known sample moments to achieve a high level of covariate balance [ 46 ].
EB matching procedure and data analysis were executed using STATA 14 statistical software (StataCorp LP, College Station, TX). Using the weights obtained from EB procedure, we then used the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) to estimate the treatment effect by regressing the well-being measures against the treatment variable: DEATH (a dummy variable that equals 1 if the subject experience the death, and 0 otherwise) and an interaction term to tease out the marginal effect of gender and social activity. For example, if the interaction term: DEATH × LOW SOCIAL ACTIVITY is negative and statistically significant in the SF-36 outcome regression, bereaved individuals with low social engagement experienced poorer bereavement outcome than bereaved individuals with high social engagement. In our weight-adjusted OLS regressions, we included respondents’ socio-demographics as control variables. Coefficients of the treatment variable, interaction terms, and their corresponding p -values (two-tailed t -test) were reported. For brevity, we did not report the estimated coefficients of the control variables. Since we are testing five domains of welling being over multiple time points, we applied Benjamini-Hochberg procedure [ 48 ] to adjust for a false discovery rate of 5%. The coefficient is considered to be significant if the p -value is less than Benjamini-Hochberg critical value. The total number of observations used in this study was 168,104.
Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics of respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics separated out by bereaved and non-bereaved groups. It shows that the two groups of respondents were quite different socio-demographically (as t -tests were all statistically significant at the 5% level). The two groups were not comparable at baseline so the use of EB procedure to reweight the non-bereaved control group made the groups comparable based on the distribution of their socio-demographic characteristics.
First, there was a slightly greater female concentration in the bereaved group (54% bereaved vs 53% control, p -value = 0.03). Compared to the non-bereaved group, the bereaved group was significantly older (53 vs 43, p -value < 0.01), less educated, more religious (75% vs 66%, p -value < 0.01), resided in a more remote part of Australia and resided in economically disadvantaged areas (i.e. lower income families and people with little training and in unskilled occupations) and lesser educational attainment and skilled occupations ( p -values < 0.01).
Personality traits of these two groups of respondents also differed statistically. The bereaved group reported higher rates of agreeableness , conscientiousness , emotional stability , extroversion but scored lower on the scale of openness to experience . At least three of these attributes are associated with broader social network and higher level of social activity, which is in line with lower level of social isolation reported in the last row of Panel A. The bereaved cohort were more emotionally stable, possibly due to the age gap between the two cohorts; older people tend to be more emotionally stable than young people [ 49 ].
Tables 2 and 3 present evidence that there was a correlation between gender and social activity. For the bereaved group ( Table 2 ), 80% of female respondents met friends/relatives more than once a month, whereas for males, the corresponding statistic was 4% lower ( p -value < 0.01). For the non-bereaved group, the corresponding difference was similar. This correlation suggests that females are likely to have a broad social network and thus may receive more bereavement support.
Fig 1 presents the impact of the death on well-being measures from the year prior to death to two years after death across bereaved and non-bereaved respondents. There are two patterns that stand out from the figure. First, after applying the EB procedure to reweight the sample and adjusting for the respondents’ socio-demographics, Fig 1A–1F show that the death of a close friend is associated with poorer self-reported general health, lower vitality, poorer mental and psychological well-being, greater interference with normal social activities, greater role limitations caused by emotional problems, and lower life satisfaction following the death. The difference between the two groups at each time point from 0–3 months up until 22–24 months were statistically significant with at the 5% level ( p -value < 0.01).Note that after reweighting, the first three moments of the distribution (mean, standard deviation and skewness) of all covariates were matched almost perfectly.
This figure presents the impact of the death of a friend on their well-being (separated by gender) over time. The well-being measures include the adjusted mean scores of Short Form 36 Questionnaire (SF-36) scores on the respondent’s general health, vitality, mental health, role limitations due to emotional problems and social functioning. The mean scores were adjusted by respondents’ socio-demographics including age, marital status, ethnicity (ATSI), level of education, remoteness, personality traits, religion, socio-economic disadvantage, economic resources, and education and occupation.
Second, there is a notable pattern in well-being metrics and (with the exception of general health) all show marked decline at about 6 months after death, followed by a recovery. Apart from overall life satisfaction, all metrics demonstrate small but varying level of deterioration shortly after recovery.
Table 4 reports the result by the respondent’s social activity. Respondents who were classified as socially inactive (met with friends/family at most once a month) suffered a significant long-term deterioration in vitality, mental health, role-emotional and social functioning, with the greatest impact occurring around 7–9 months after the death. They were significantly less satisfied with their life and health compared with the matched non-bereaved group. For socially active respondents, the greatest impact occurred around the anniversary of death, followed by a steady recovery. While death of a close friend did not seem to decrease their life satisfaction, they were not satisfied with their health up to two years after death, and this corresponds to their overall grief-associated poorer health. Full results of Table 4 can be found in S1 Table .
Ackerman et al report that females respond to friends as though they are their kin more than the male counterparts. Table 5 shows that bereaved females consistently experienced lower vitality, suffered greater deterioration in mental health, suffered greater limitation on their routine activities and social functioning than bereaved males as the coefficients of the interaction term are negative and statistically significant across all time periods. In contrast to the spousal bereavement literature suggesting that mental health tends to improve over time and approaches to the normal level by the 4 th year [ 50 ], we show that there exists an interesting U-shaped pattern; the impact declines after the first 3 months and reaches the lowest level at around 7–9 months and rises through to the 4 th year after death. Our result suggests that females experienced longer term deterioration of physical and psychological well-being following the death of a close friend. Our data may reflect hypotheses that females share tighter and had greater socioemotional bonds than their male counterparts [ 51 – 53 ]. Full results of Table 5 can be found in S2 Table .
Finally, we found that the impact on males was comparatively smaller. The positive and significant coefficients in year 4 (and some in years 3 and 2) suggest that bereaved males experienced long term improvement in vitality, mental health, role-emotional and social functioning. Our life satisfaction regression indicates that bereaved males were more dissatisfied with their life and health in the short term (up to 1 year) while bereaved females were more dissatisfied in the long term (2 year and beyond). It is not clear whether their dissatisfaction was partly due to long term grief-associated outcome.
Our results offer, for the first time, insight into the bio-psychosocial impacts of the death of a close friend. The data are significant in establishing bereaved friends as an important cohort who may require physical and emotional support in the four years following the death. The data are drawn from a nationally representative sample of Australian households, with a sample size of 9,586 people who had experienced the death of at least one close friend making this the largest study of its kind to date.
The data show that the bereaved and the non-bereaved cohort have very different sociodemographic characteristics. Specifically, the bereaved group was older, less educated, more religious, and they lived in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, lower economic resources, lesser education attainment and skilled occupation. Existing works shows that younger bereaved people present with more pronounced grief than older counterparts, but older people tend to experience greater loneliness [ 1 , 3 , 4 ]. The literature shows that religion in general has a positive impact on grief as it helps individuals to handle major crises such as death, and religious communities often provide social support to help individuals cope with their loss [ 9 , 12 , 54 ]. Different personality traits will impact adaptation during bereavement. Individuals with higher self-esteem are more capable of withstanding stress [ 55 ]. Positive emotions buffer individuals against anxiety and depression resulting from bereavements [ 7 , 8 , 56 ]. People who score high on ‘neuroticism’ are more emotionally fragile and they are more likely to experience bereavement maladjustment [ 57 ].
Personality traits also affect people’s social activity. People who are agreeable tend to behave altruistically and are more pro-social [ 58 ] and thus they are more likely to be selected as potential friends [ 59 ]. However, it is also possible that bereavement triggers other friends to rally round and be in contact with them, leading to an increase in social network activity [ 36 ]. Extroverted people engage in more social activities as they are more likely to experience positive affect from social activity [ 58 ], and therefore they are more motivated to make new friends. People who are not conscientious are expected to exhibit poorer self-control and are more likely to engage in prejudiced behaviour and poorer interpersonal interactions [ 59 – 61 ]. However, some studies found little evidence of the association between conscientiousness and the size of friendship network because being conscientious may lead to higher peer acceptance and helps with maintaining friendship rather than making new friends [ 59 ].
After matching and controlling for the sociodemographic differences between the bereaved and non-bereaved groups, we found evidence supporting the argument that greater social engagement can harness more support throughout the bereavement process. For those who were socially isolated or have less social engagement, they were less resilient to grief and the impact could last at least four years. This result differs from recent research [ 36 ], which suggested that friends of a decedent become more engaged with each other. Further analysis revealed that females experienced greater negative bereavement outcomes, which may be attributed to gender difference in psychological kinship; females share tighter and had greater socioemotional bonds than their male counterparts [ 51 – 53 ]. Results also showed that males had lower life satisfaction in the short-run (within the first year of the death) and while females had less life satisfaction in the long run (2 years and beyond after the death), and this may be associated with prolonged impact of bereavement in females.
Our results present an alternative explanation for the gender difference in bereavement outcomes. Studies show that mortality risk is higher for widowers than widows [ 14 , 62 ], but widows are more likely to become depressed [ 63 – 65 ]. Research shows that higher baseline levels of depressive symptoms among females may predispose them to higher risk of developing grief-related depressive disorder [ 64 ]. However, it is not clear whether widows were employing more effective coping strategies in dealing with grief than widowers [ 66 ]. Others argued that males are more vulnerable to depression following widowhood because they suffer more social deficit [ 67 ].
Death of a friend is a universal human experience. Yet friends rank low on the grief hierarchy, and friends are considered lesser mourners than relatives.[ 68 ] The long-lasting bereavement outcomes of friends found in our data have international significance, in advocating to disrupt bereavement of a friend as a disenfranchised grief. If the death of a friend continues unchallenged in this category, then it will be all the more difficult for the grievers to overcome the emotional and physical impact of bereavement.
We provide evidence from a robust analysis of a large and representative dataset, for alerting bereavement services and the medical system to consider those most likely to experience adverse bio-psycho-social consequences to the death of a friend. Perhaps, in the absence of complex grief [ 21 ], a useful focus could be on connecting people to social networks or religious communities to harness emotional support. Such support is essential for fostering better bereavement adjustment, reducing the likelihood of developing prolonged depressive and physical symptoms. This also connects with the move toward community based approaches to death, dying and bereavement [ 69 ]. Specifically, an awareness by general practitioners and primary care health practitioners of the potential vulnerability of bereaved people up to four years post loss could allow them to be more proactive in recognition of grief-related presentations and providing subsequent support.
There are several limitations to our study. First, since our results rely on data from self-completion questionnaires, we may overestimate the gender effect due to self-reporting bias; females may be more willing to recognise and acknowledge health problems than males. Second, we were unable to determine from the data whether respondents developed uncomplicated or complicated grief, which has clinical significance, particularly following its inclusion as a new diagnostic criteria in DSM-V [ 14 , 70 ]. Third, the data do not provide detailed information about the nature and causes of death which can be important risk factors driving the intensity of grief [ 71 , 72 ]. For example, violent death [ 73 , 74 ], unnatural death [ 75 ] and unexpectedness or unpreparedness of death [ 37 , 76 , 77 ] can increase the chance of developing complicated grief, and hence some of the bio-psychosocial impacts reported in this paper.
Bereavement often leads to psychological distress, yet to date there has been a lack of robust data which demonstrates the impact following the death of a close friend. Friends’ responses to bereavement are influenced by the person’s age, gender, race, religion, intrapersonal factors such as personality and mental health.
Bereavement of a close friend is a type of disenfranchised grief. It renders significant negative impact on people’s physical health, vitality, mental health, social functioning and role limitations due to emotional problems. Drawing on the theory of psychological kinship we demonstrated that bereaved females experience more negative and long-lasting bereavement outcomes. Specifically, they experience a substantial fall in vitality, suffered more deterioration in mental health, impaired role-emotional and social functioning than male counterparts for up to four years. Our results showed that people who were not socially active suffered significant adverse physical and psychological well-being, inferior mental health and social functioning. The death of a close friend reduced a person’s social network and interaction. For respondents who were socially engaged, they received support from other friends and relatives during bereavement, and thus the negative impact was somewhat moderated. Overall, we presented robust evidence that the death of a close friend matters. The findings have international applicability regarding the impact of bereavement on close friends. The data suggest the need to ensure services are able to assist people who have experienced the death of a friend to develop support networks.
S1 table. impact of death of a close friend on vitality, mental health, general health, role emotional and social functioning across level of social activity (full results)..
This table presents the weighted OLS regression result on the difference between numerous measures capturing the respondents’ vitality level, mental health, and general health, role emotional and social functioning after matching groups of respondents who had experienced death of a friend in the past year against the respondents’ socio-demographics including age, marital status, ethnicity (ATSI), level of education, remoteness, personality traits, religion, socio-economic disadvantage, economic resources, and education and occupation. Non-bereaved group is reweighted using the Entropy Balancing (EB) procedure so that the distribution (mean, variance and skewness) of the socio-demographic variables are matched to the bereaved group. The dependent variables include the Short Form 36 Questionnaire (SF-36) scores on the respondent’s vitality, mental health, general health, role limitations due to emotional problems and social functioning (transformed into a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is poor and 100 is excellent), how satisfied they are with their life and health (ranging from 0 to 10). In order to isolate the interdependency between gender and social activity, we also match respondent’s gender in addition to the respondents’ socio-demographics. We report the coefficient of the dummy variable DEATH , which equals 1 if the respondent experienced death in the relevant time period. We also report coefficient of the interaction variable DEATH × LOW SOCIAL ACTIVITY , where LOW SOCIAL ACTIVITY is a dummy variable equals 1 if the respondent was reported to meet family and friends socially at most once every month. t -statistics are reported in parenthesis.
S2 Table. Impact of death of a close friend on vitality, mental health, general health, role emotional and social functioning across Gender (full results).
This table presents the weighted OLS regression result on the difference between numerous measures capturing the respondents’ vitality level, mental health, and general health, role emotional and social functioning after matching groups of respondents who had experienced death of a friend in the past year against the respondents’ socio-demographics including age, marital status, ethnicity (ATSI), level of education, remoteness, personality traits, religion, socio-economic disadvantage, economic resources, and education and occupation. Non-bereaved group is reweighted using the Entropy Balancing (EB) procedure so that the distribution (mean, variance and skewness) of the socio-demographic variables are matched to the bereaved group. The dependent variables include the Short Form 36 Questionnaire (SF-36) scores on the respondent’s vitality, mental health, general health, role limitations due to emotional problems and social functioning (transformed into a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is poor and 100 is excellent), how satisfied they are with their life and health (ranging from 0 to 10). In order to isolate the interdependency between gender and social activity, we also match the level of social activity in addition to the respondents’ socio-demographics. We report the coefficient of the dummy variable DEATH, which equals 1 if the respondent experienced death in the relevant time period. We also report coefficient of the interaction variable DEATH×FEMALE, where FEMALE is a dummy variable equals 1 if the respondent is a female. t -statistics are reported in parenthesis.
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Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Friendship — How I Lost One Of My Best Friends – My Dog Sammy
The Loss of a Pet that Changed My Life
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What is Ash Wednesday and why do Christians give things up for Lent?
This year, ash wednesday will be observed on feb. 14, 2024, by staff • published february 14, 2024 • updated on february 14, 2024 at 8:17 am.
On Wednesday, many Christians will show up to work with ashes smudged on their foreheads. Many more will head to church on their lunch break or after work to receive a cross of ashes on their face.
This year, Ash Wednesday — a solemn day of fasting and reflection to mark the start of Christianity's most penitent season — falls on Valentine's Day , the fixed annual celebration of love and friendship, marked by couples, flowers and candy — and critics who deride its commercialization.
But what exactly is the purpose of the centuries-old Christian tradition?
What is Ash Wednesday?
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In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
Christians from many denominations recognize the holy season for 40 days leading up to Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a sign of the cross with ashes on their forehead at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. The tradition has its origins in the Old Testament where sinners performed acts of public penance.
The use of ashes is to remind parishioners of their mortality. During Ash Wednesday service, the phrase, "Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” from the Book of Genesis is traditionally employed.
Rev. Gregory Wilson, pastor at St. Mary’s Help of Christians Catholic church in Aiken, South Carolina, offers believers two things to consider when observing Ash Wednesday: prayer and sacrifice.
“Prayer,” Wilson said, “purifies intentions and relates everything back to God. Fasting detaches people from comfort and themselves, in turn, making them ‘hungry for God’ and his righteousness and holiness."
Wilson urges Christians to make time for prayer, nothing that "people always have time for what they want to do."
“We make time for these things because they are a priority and they are necessary in life and guess what? So is prayer. Prayer is like the air for the lungs of the Christian. So do not try to find time – make it.”
Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday: Is it a dilemma to go on a date with a cross sign on your forehead?
Valentine's Day 2024: Gift ideas for lovers, family & friends
When is ash wednesday 2024.
Ash Wednesday is not a fixed date. Its timing is tied to Easter Sunday, and for most Christians, Easter will fall on March 31 this year.
Easter also moves annually, swinging between March 22 and April 25 based on a calendar calculation involving the moon.
This year, Ash Wednesday will fall on Feb. 14 2024.
Where do the ashes come from?
Typically, the ashes are from the palms used on Palm Sunday, which falls a week before Easter, according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America .
Ashes can be purchased, but some churches make their own by burning the palms from prior years. For example, several parishes and schools in the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese plan to hold palm burning ceremonies this year.
Can Catholics celebrate Valentine's Day on Ash Wednesday?
In addition to the candy heart and chocolate-fueled secular celebrations, Feb. 14 is also the Feast of St. Valentine. But Ash Wednesday with its fasting and abstinence requirements is far more significant and should be prioritized, said Catholic Bishop Richard Henning of Providence, Rhode Island, in the diocese’s official newspaper.
“Ash Wednesday is the much higher value and deserves the full measure of our devotion,” he said. “I ask with all respect that we maintain the unique importance of Ash Wednesday. If you would like to wine and dine your Valentine, please do so on the Tuesday before. February 13 is Mardi Gras, ‘Fat Tuesday,’ a perfect day to feast and celebrate!”
What is Lent?
Lent is the annual period of Christian observance that precedes Easter. The dates of Lent are defined by the date of Easter, which is a moveable feast, meaning that it falls on a different date each year. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, and its observance lasts for 40 days, excluding Sundays. Lent ends this year on Thursday, April 6.
Catholics started the tradition of Lent around the year 325, during the Council of Nicea, but it has spread through other Christian denominations, including Western Orthodox churches, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Anglicans, among others.
During lent, Christians give up things like habits or food and drink items. The tradition’s origins go back to Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the desert.
Lent comes from the Middle English word “lente,” which means springtime, and signals the coming of spring.
What is Fat Tuesday?
On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, people tend to eat rich foods in large quantities in advance of the fasting, which is a key component of Lent. Hence, the name “Fat Tuesday.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.