My Close Friend Died Yesterday…and Far Away. What Can I Do?

Reader’s Question

I am a 40-year-old woman, and I had a relationship with a man for 6 years. We loved each other. He had a wife and child. Yesterday he died, and I’m so sad and I don’t know what can I do? Today I’m in another country and so far from my love.

Psychologist’s Reply

Your sadness at the death of your friend is totally normal. The death of any close friend, ex-spouse, ex-lover, etc. brings up the Emotional Memories associated with that relationship. Emotional Memories cause us to “emotionally” remember the relationship — not just remember the relationship in thought or details. You will experience a normal bereavement reaction including missing him, grief, depression, a sense of loneliness, and sorrow.

If I understand your email correctly, he has a wife and child…and you are currently in another country. These situations create complications to the normal bereavement process. In your situation, you will not be able to attend or participate in the normal grief rituals with his family or in his country. You will not be able to join those who will be sharing memories of his life.

I would recommend using the following approach:

  • Recognize that you are experiencing a normal grief and bereavement process. You will be emotionally uncomfortable, and crying, sorrow, missing him, etc. are all part of this normal reaction.
  • You can discuss the loss with good friends in your current location. If your relationship with him was secret or very private, you can focus on your loss of a close friend rather than sweetheart.
  • Do something in honor of your relationship with him. Watch a movie you both enjoyed. Listen to music you both shared.
  • Try to focus on the joy you both shared rather than his death. A difficult part of bereavement is the tendency to focus on how the individual died rather than how they lived.
  • If you can afford it, in your current country, make a contribution to a public agency in his honor.
  • Visit grief and bereavement sites on the Internet for recommendations on managing grief, things that help and things that don’t help.
  • If this normal bereavement process continues for many months, you may need to see a mental health professional.
  • Keep in mind that “unfinished business” is common in bereavement. Many people find they didn’t get to say goodbye, settle an argument, apologize for something, or come to peaceful terms with the person.
  • You may find additional support in your religious faith.

While you are very emotionally uncomfortable, this is a normal and expected process. What are now tormenting memories about your relationship will eventually become fond memories of your association with him. Don’t be afraid to feel the sorrow or grief. With a six year relationship, you have many memories to process during this normal reaction to his loss.

Please read our Important Disclaimer.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by on and last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Ask the Psychologist provides direct access to qualified clinical psychologists ready to answer your questions. It is overseen by the same international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals — with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe — that delivers CounsellingResource.com, providing peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. CounsellingResource.com is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2023.