Doctor, My Close Friend Died and I am Still Grieving Interview with:

Prof. Wai-Man (Raymond) Liu, PhDAssociate ProfessorResearch School of Finance, Actuarial Studies & StatisticsCollege of Business & Economics BuildingThe Australian National UniversityProf. Wai-Man (Raymond) Liu, PhD
Associate Professor
Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies & Statistics
College of Business & Economics Building
The Australian National University What is the background for this study?

Response: In our study, we studied survey responses of over 26,000 people from the largest Australian household survey over a period of 14 years. The survey was funded by the government called “The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey”. The survey was conducted by the Melbourne Institute.

In the survey more than 9,500 of these respondents had experienced the death of a close friend. What are the main findings?

Response: After matching a range of socio-demographic factors, we found pronounced declines in the health and wellbeing of people who’d had a close friend die in the previous four years. Specifically, people who grieved for the loss of their close friend experienced a sharp fall, sharper fall in vitality, suffered greater deterioration in mental health, and impaired emotional and social functioning, and the fall is more serious among women and those who are not socially active. Existing study shows that compared to males, females responded to friends as though they are their kin so the relationship among female friends are much closer and hence experienced greater deterioration in mental health, suffered greater limitation on their routine activities due to emotional problems (role-emotional) and social functioning than bereaved males.

People who were not socially active may imply

(1) they are isolated and
(2) they have smaller social circle.

If you are socially isolated, you don’t get adequate support to help you to get over the loss. If you have a small social circle, one close friend less means a lot to you. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Recognising grief and its long-term effect is effect is important.

For medical professionals and employers, we believe acknowledging the significant effect the death of a friend and offer support when necessary.

Hey look, my close friend died and I am still grieving about it. This is total legitimate. So it is important that medical professionals recognise the impact of a death on friends, not just on relatives.

I have nothing to disclose.


Wai-Man Liu, Liz Forbat, Katrina Anderson.  . PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (4): e0214838 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214838

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD