Can’t Cope with Best Friend’s Death

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My best friend died this morning, I don’t know how to cope. We’ve known eachother for years, the closest of friendships. WE’EVE NEVER left each others side, he’s always been there for me and same for him. He was on a bike ride with his cousin, came off and hit his head off a curb, suffering a slow and painful death due to bleeding of the brain. I cannot stop crying and grieving because i keep thinking of how scared he must of been and how much pain he was in… please help.

A: I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your friend. At 18, I’m guessing this is the first important death that has happened to you. When you wrote this letter, it was still a shock. Of course you were grieving. You probably still are. This is absolutely normal.

One of the things I”ve learned is that grief takes as long as it takes. Oh, we go on with life. We even forget for periods of time. But then something happens that brings it all rushing back. This is especially likely to happen when you are doing something that you used to do together. Over time, it gets less intense and more manageable. But sometimes it takes years before we can talk about someone we deeply cared about without tearing up or crying. That’s also normal.

It may help you to work on compartmentalizing. That means reserving a part of every day when you can devote yourself to thinking about the good times you had and all the positive qualities of your friend. Whenever you feel the grief welling up, you can tell yourself, “Not now. I’ll think about it during that special time.” This practice often helps people manage to go about their daily life and still have a time and place for grief.

I hope you have a funeral or memorial service or even just a time when friends get together to talk about the loss. Tell stories of good times and bad. Laugh and cry together. Such gatherings are a way that people support each other and process loss. It will get better. Really. No one will replace your friend. But life does have a way of going on.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Can’t Cope with Best Friend’s Death. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/09/15/cant-cope-with-best-friends-death/