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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Grieving a friend

You have the right to mourn and reasons to remember

When a friend dies, few of us in 21st century America get what we need most — someone who will listen to our grief. Just listen, without offering easy comfort: "There, there. Try not to let yourself get so upset. It's not like she was family."

That didn't work last year for National Football League commentator Boomer Esiason, who attended 17 funerals for friends who died Sept. 11, 2001. "Boomer, they were only friends."

It doesn't work for any of us. Yet the grief for a friend is commonly dismissed, as contemporary society assigns priority to family — even though friends may have been closer. Today many people create "families of investment," individuals with whom they invest and exchange emotional resources.


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April issue

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Faith traditions

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