8 Things You Can Do After Your Best Friend Dies


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Friends fill a special role in our lives, especially when you consider that friendships are chosen, and not automatic. When your best friend dies, you might not know what to do next or how to handle your grief. A best friend represents so many things — a confidant, a shoulder to lean on, and sometimes a relationship that’s closer than a sibling. Whichever way you categorize your relationship with your best friend, you may be left wondering what to do now that they are gone.

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It's understandable to grieve their death as you would the loss of a close family member. And, although being in the position of “best friend” may leave you feeling special in the hierarchy of mourners, it may also leave you feeling sidelined by the family. Here are some ways you can cope with your loss when all you can think of is that "my best friend has died."

1. Call the Family

Immediately upon hearing the news of your best friend's death, consider calling the family and introducing yourself. Offering condolences is a nice way to break the ice and explain to them what role you had in their loved one's life. Their family may not be aware of your friendship, or of how close the two of you were. 

It's also very possible that your best friend's family doesn't know much about their personal life.  Unless you are connected through social media circles, or otherwise have a close connection with the family, it can be very difficult to determine relationships.

Few adult children share every aspect of their lives with their parents or siblings. In an effort to be autonomous, they leave out certain details making it difficult to keep tabs of who and what was important in their lives. The family may not know where to begin in deciding who to include in the final arrangements outside of the family.

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

2. Gather Pictures

When you're grieving the loss of your best friend, going through old photos of the two of you may bring you joy and comfort. You can even compile them in a custom photo album to look back on whenever you miss them.

All the good times the two of you shared can never be taken from you. These photos and the memories attached to them are something that you can hold on to for the rest of your life. As you sit there reminiscing, think of the ways your best friend made you feel special, and how they made you a better version of yourself.

Sharing with the family some of your carefully selected photos may showcase a different side of your best friend than what they knew. They may choose to include them in the memorial service to share with the rest of the family and friends. Perhaps they'll add humor to an otherwise somber occasion, or give an insight into their personality that only you were allowed to see.

3. Create a Playlist of Favorite Songs

Music has a way of touching the soul. It has a special power to heal when you're mourning the loss of your loved one. Creating a musical playlist of songs that are special to only you and your best friend, can help you when you're grieving. You can even consider sharing it along with a Spotify gift card with other people in your friend group if all of you were close.

There are hundreds of songs dedicated to losing a best friend to help soothe your sorrow. You'll find examples of some of the most popular songs about losing a friend below.

  • "You Have Been Loved" by George Michael
  • "See You Again" by Carrie Underwood
  • "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans
  • "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day
  • "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
  • "Who'd You Be Today" by Kenny Chesney
  • "Hurt" by Christina Aguilera
  • "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill
  • "Heaven Was Needing a Hero" by Jo Dee Messina
  • "In The Arms of An Angel" by Sarah McLachlan

4. Return Borrowed Items

When you find out your best friend has died, one of the last things you think about is that you still have some of their borrowed items in your possession. Even though you may have had them for weeks or in some cases years, these items still don't belong to you. They’re now part of their estate.

Depending on what it is you're holding on to, you may need to find a tactful way of returning these items to the family. It may be that they tell you to go ahead and keep whatever you have on hand. But, until you hear those words from them, consider any property in your possession as needing to be returned. 

Get return receipts for high-value items such as jewelry and electronics. You should have the family sign an "acknowledgment of return", or face a possible challenge by the estate later on. if you aren't careful to document which items you held at the time of death, and which were returned, the heirs might sue you for their value.

You don't need to hire a lawyer, but you should do a simple Internet search on how to word a "Transfer of Property" receipt.  This is nothing that should cause you any added stress at your time of mourning, but it should be taken seriously enough to get it documented. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

5. Ask to Keep a Memento

Once you've gone through all the items belonging to your best friend, and you've returned everything that the family is entitled to, you may want to ask to hold on to a special item that reminds you of your friend. This doesn't have to be something of high monetary value.

It can be something that holds a special memory of a time, place or event the two of you shared. Simple things like concert tickets, a champagne flute, a date-night dress you borrowed — any of these items will surely bring you comfort as you go through your grieving process.

6. Call Mutual Friends

Having a best friend likely means that the two of you shared many things in common including each other's friends. The family may not know who these friends are, and may not have alerted them to your friend's passing. Reach out to the family and ask permission to give the news to all your mutual friends.

Unless you were very close friends with this group, it may not be appropriate for you to spread the news without first consulting the family. They may have reasons for not wanting the news to be made public. Things that may affect whether the family wants to announce the death include their age, the manner of death, details of an illness, a suicide, or other information that the family deems private.

If given permission, one of the things you may want to ask other friends for is quotes about the death of a friend. Ask others to give you some insight into their personal relationship with your best friend, and consider passing this along to the family to include in their memorial service.

7. Give a Eulogy

If planning a memorial service giving a eulogy in remembrance of your best friend is a beautiful way of honoring their memory. Don't worry if you're not comfortable giving speeches in front of crowds. Jot down a few lines of what your best friend meant to you, how they helped and encouraged you, and anything else specific to their personality or special traits they possessed.

Practice your eulogy. This should make it easier for you when standing at the podium. If it's going to be a virtual service, make sure you have the right equipment to make sure everyone can see and hear you clearly.

Once you start talking about your best friend, and sharing with others the stories of your life together, you'll soon be at ease and perhaps forget about any public speaking anxiety you may have.

Try to keep things light and positive, while focusing on highlighting their best attributes. This isn't the time nor place to divulge any of their secrets or bad habits regardless of how funny they may be. Your friend’s eulogy should be one that honors them and gives others insight into all the wonderful traits that made your best friend special to you. 

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

8. Keep Some Ashes

If your best friend's remains are being cremated, ask the family if you can be gifted a vial of their ashes.

Offer to pay for the cost of the added expense, and hope that they'll agree to your request. This might be a touchy subject to broach, but it's one of those things that you won't know until you ask. You may even offer to pay for the entire cremation if your budget allows for it. 

If the family does agree with your request, consider putting the ashes in a piece of cremation jewelry like this as a reminder of your best friend. You can also consider using the ashes to make a cremation diamond.

When Your Best Friend Dies 

Like most of us, you probably never expected your best friend to die. You probably never even considered that they would die at all. Now that you’re faced with dealing with their death, there will be many emotional ups and downs that you’ll go through. Your life will, of course, have changed now that they’re gone. 

You might go through a period of feeling as if you’ve lost your identity now that they’re no longer a part of your life. It helps to take things one day at a time as you settle into your new life without them. As time passes, consider venturing out into the world to try new things and to meet new people. With any luck, you will eventually meet someone that will add value to your life in much the same way as your best friend did. 

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