Grief and Loss

My friend’s son recently committed suicide. How can I support her during this awful time?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My friend's son recently committed suicide. What can I do to support her during this awful time?

DEAR READER: More than 30,000 Americans die by suicide each year, leaving behind devastated family and friends. That's about one out of every 10,000 people in the United States. To some extent, someone who loses a family member to suicide suffers a loss similar to that as if the person had suffered another type of unexpected or violent death, such as a heart attack, car accident or drowning.

Is mourning a pet a normal reaction?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My beloved dog passed away a few months ago after years of loving companionship. My friends think I should be over his death by now. Are they right?

DEAR READER: There's a reason dogs are called man's (and woman's) best friend: They offer unparalleled companionship and unconditional love. Especially unconditional love. That love is encapsulated in the wonderful prayer: "Lord, help me to become the person that my dog thinks I am." For most dog owners, a dog is a cherished member of the family.

How long is it OK to grieve a loss of a loved one?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My spouse passed away last year, and I am still grieving. Is this normal?

DEAR READER: By coincidence, I'm writing this reply to your question on the 51st anniversary of my father's death. He died very young. This is a sad day -- at least for me, this grief never fully ends.

How can I help a grieving friend?

DEAR DOCTOR K: A close friend suddenly and unexpectedly lost her spouse. How can I help her through her grief?

DEAR READER: It's not easy to console a grieving friend; you can't fix the situation. Instead, just be present and offer hope toward the future. Accept that your friend's grieving is a natural process that will gradually ebb. Here are a few specific, practical pieces of advice.