There are few life events that are as life-shattering as suddenly becoming widowed – especially if you are not yet at the right age (whatever that may be) to become widowed.

Dealing with the practical arrangements of a funeral or cremation and the paperwork related to the estate are often the easy parts. However, even these actions can add to the immense turmoil of emotions that suddenly explode when a beloved partner passes.

If the partner was not necessarily a beloved and there is the additional trauma of an abusive relationship that has suddenly ended, it is no wonder that some people become unable to function and do even the most simple things.

Many recently widowed people are at first unaware of the immense anger that they radiate. They like to believe that their friends avoid them because the friends do not understand or no longer want them as friends.

But consider this: have you ever been introduced to a person and immediately felt, for no good reason that you do not want to be in the presence of this person? Have you ever seen someone on television – a person that you have never even met – and had a similar reaction to this stranger? This is an intuitive and illogical response that is often later justified (at least in your own mind) when you receive more information about the person.

People tend to intuitively have a similar response to grieving people. I say similar, because when you meet a person that is shattered by grief and struggling to keep themselves together for even the simplest task, you do not necessarily dislike them – on the contrary.

You rather feel their immense pain and confusion of the grieving person at an unconscious level. You also intuitively observe the aura of the grieving person – and you do this regardless of your belief that you are not able to “see” auras.

If you have had similar experiences in the past and managed to work through your own experiences, you will be able to respond intuitively in your own way. You will be able to acknowledge and neutralise some of the anger of your friend – for the moment, because such deep anger does not get resolved in the blink of an eye.

If you have not had any experience that will give you even an inkling of the deep emotions your friend is experiencing, you have choices on how to deal with this change in your friendship.

The first option is simply to walk away. Many people do that and miss out on an opportunity for self-growth. They also leave their bereaved friend in a space that confirms their sense of isolation and loneliness.

The second option is to continue as if nothing much has changed, and not to acknowledge the strong emotions of your friend. This is probably worse than walking away, because you deny your own emotions and you deny the change in the friendship.

The third option is to understand that everything happens for a reason, and that this friendship is part of your life path. For goodness sake do not tell your friend that they became widowed for a reason – they will discover that in their own time. When you tell them this while they are so full of strong emotions such as anger, telling them that there is a reason for their immense pain would be proof that you just do not understand.

Rather use the opportunity to say to your friend “I want to walk this path with you, but have no idea what to do to help. Please tell me how I can help.”

Be prepared for every reaction from “Leave me alone” to “Be with me all the time”. Be prepared for using your common sense and doing practical things like mowing the lawn or offering to babysit. Be prepared for observing lots of crying and knowing that you cannot take the pain away, and learn to take it in your stride and remain a friend. Be prepared for remaining a friend and growing in the process. Above all, be prepared for loving your friend no matter what.

Author's Bio: 

Elsabe Smit is the author of a soon to be published book on coping with widowhood. Visit for a survey and free ebook titled "Death - and After?"