Far from being a trivial loss, the trauma and grief resulting from the death of a close friend have a heavy toll in the four years after that loss. The findings of the study are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers warned that a lack of recognition about the time it takes people to mourn a close friend is leading to inadequate support made available during the grieving process.
The research involved 26,515 Australians, of whom 9,586 had experienced the death of at least one close friend.
"We found there are serious declines in the health and wellbeing of people who had experienced the death of a close friend any time in the last four years," Liu added.
"We all know that when someone loses a partner, parent or child, that person is likely to suffer through a significant grieving period. Yet the death of a close friend, which most of us will experience, is not afforded the same level of seriousness by employers, doctors, and the community," Liu added.