The Dead Friend Checklist
by Joe Nesbitt
So it happened: your friend is dead. So it goes. Maybe it’s your first time dealing with it or maybe it’s your tenth. Regardless, there are certain steps that now need to be taken. Fortunately for you, I’ve outlined some of those steps and the appropriate actions below.
- Don’t panic.
There will be plenty of time to panic later. First you’re going to feel confusion and shock. Who died? Really? How? Is this real? This will most likely be followed by anger—at both the situation and your dead friend. It’s okay to be angry with your dead friend.
- The telephone game.
Everyone played the game telephone as a kid, right? This is similar, except it’s more important to keep the facts straight and limited. The person who told you likely said something along the lines of, “Keep this quiet for now; the family doesn’t know yet.” So it goes. At this point make some mental calculations. Who died, who called you, and based on the previous two facts who likely might not know but should know before it hits social media. Call that person.
Speaking of social media…
- Social media management.
Stop what you’re doing and back away from the keyboard. You don’t need to let the social media world know that you’re one of the first people to find out who died. The only thing worse than a thinly veiled status update about someone dying is accidently informing the family of the deceased though social media. Don’t be that person. Instead, wait until the news is out and a respectable amount of time has passed. At that point feel free to post pictures and stories of you and your dead friend so everyone can see how close you were.
- Been there, done that, bought the shirt.
Just buy the shirt. Or donate to the fund, or both, whatever the case. It’s easy to see our community as family, but we all have blood family too, and they probably need the support more than we do.
- Go to the memorial.
If you can swing it, go to the memorial. That being said, don’t screw up your life, career, or other obligations to do it. Your friend is dead, so they won’t mind. The whole point in going to the memorial is to support one another. If you can swing it, then go, and make sure you dress the part…
- Dress to impress.
Most of the time memorials are mixed affairs—meaning jumpers and nonjumpers. This means some tact needs to be applied, and appropriate attire must be worn. Keep the glow shit and furry spirit animal headdress in a bag for later. Wear something classy, but don’t wear a suit. Suits are usually reserved for family and identify them as such. Wear something dressy, classy, and comfortable. You’re likely going to be in these clothes for a long time—sitting, standing, walking, and conversing. Don’t wear anything spring-like or flashy; this is a memorial, after all. Wear a dark shirt, and if you want to class it up, a nice tie with a little bit of fun. Nothing crazy—a paisley design is perfect. Wear some comfortable pants that complement the shirt. Flat-fronted of course—you should only wear pleats if it’s a suit. (Don’t wear a suit.) Last but not least, the shoes. Make sure they are classy, go with the outfit, but are also comfortable. A nice loafer would be great here.
TLDR version: Light gray Kenneth Cole pants, dark Calvin Klein shirt, Brooks Brothers paisley tie, dark Steve Maddens.
So that’s it. Everything you need to know to deal with your friend’s death.
Just kidding. There’s one more step, and it’s the hardest.
- Shit just got real.
Once all the previous steps are completed, the hard shit starts. These are the unscripted, unpredictable, uncertain times. You’ve gone back home, there’s nothing left to do, and you’re left with your wandering thoughts, memories, and emotions. This is the really hard part, and I can’t tell you what to do here because it’s different for everyone. Just know this—you’re not alone, you have a community, you have people who love and care about you, and you have people to talk to. Make sure you take advantage of this.
Which reminds me:
The most important piece of advice I can give is this: hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.