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How to grieve when you are in shock?

By Guide November 3, 2014 - 2:03pm
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I would appreciate any tips from EmpowHER members on how to grieve over the unexpected loss of a close friend. I just found lout last week that a very close friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. She was very young, only 36 years old. It was very shocking and unexpected. I have grieved the loss of grandparents and other friends or family that weren't so unexpected. Basically, meaning that we had time to prepare for the inevitable. 

But with my good friend passing so unexpectedly, I am having a really hard time coping. The first 4 days I felt like I was in a haze and couldn't concentrate and was easily distracted. The next few days, I cried a lot and it started to really feel real.

The wake and funeral are taking place today and tomorrow. I would appreciate any advice on how to grieve or any other personal experiences the community is willing to share with me. 

Thank you!

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Thank you Pat for your kindness and support! 

I appreciate the 5 stages of grief...it actually helps to know what am I feeling and when! Like you said, I have been waffling back and forth between emotions.

I appreciate your advice as well as your own personal experiences! I know someday, I will be able to convey the same hope to others who go through such a shocking loss.

Thank you for your heartfelt reply!!! I am very grateful!



November 5, 2014 - 12:24pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger


Hi Kristen, and thanks for sharing your story and reaching out to the EmpowHER community for support.

What you are feeling right now - shock - is a very natural and normal response to loss. We all deal with grief and loss in our own different ways, and as we go through life we will also deal with some losses differently than others.

There are no set rules or procedures you can learn to be able to handle grief in "the right way."

When you have more time to prepare for a loss you have more time to think about how you will react and, often, the opportunity to say goodbye to the person or express your love in some way. It brings a sense of closure during the process.

With a sudden death, especially when the person who dies is of an age where death is uncommon, there's been no need to prepare mentally and we're caught off guard.

We know today that people go through many different stages during the grieving process. Sometimes we go through more than one stage at a time, sometimes we go back and forth between them.

These were developed in 1969 by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and are known as the five stages of grief. They are based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness. They are also applied now to other life changes, including the death of a loved one.

These five stages of grief are: Denial, Anger , Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. They don't come or go in a particular order. You may have all or some of them. As I said before, we each grieve in our own unique way, and the feelings you are having right now in trying to process the death of your loved ones are very normal and natural.

Try to find a way to accept that the uncomfortable feelings you are having right now are normal and may be around for a while until you reach a level of closure and acceptance.

It will indeed be hard to get through the wake and funeral. It will be tempting to focus on Denial (This can't be happening) or Anger (Why did this happen?) or other similar thoughts. Perhaps it would help to view the service as a "Celebration of Life" and focus on recalling your good memories of your friend. Perhaps you could write some notes as you recall them and make some type of memory book about her for her friends, or husband/partner, or other significant person, which they would truly treasure and you would enjoy making.

You can't change what has happened (Bargaining) and you are going to be sad (Depression) but with time you will come to accept your loss. (Acceptance).

As a cancer patient I have lost far too many friends, far too early. It is never easy, even when expected. But caring about others, in life and in death, is what makes us human.

Take good care of yourself as you go through this,


November 3, 2014 - 5:45pm
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