The death of a friend is a loss that most people face at some point in their lives—often many times. But it is a grief that may not be taken seriously by employers, doctors, or others. The so-called hierarchy of grief, a scale used to determine who is considered a more legitimate mourner than others, puts family members at the top. For this reason, the death of a close friend can feel shunted to the periphery and has been described as a disenfranchised grief.
There has not been much research on the impact the death of a friend has on a person, so we set out to address this with our latest study. We discovered that, far from being a trivial loss, the health and well-being of people who lose a close friend has a heavy toll in the four years after that loss.