Step #1: Unexpecting your new friend.
This is often the most difficult step to master because unexpected deaths are unexpected and most people aren’t very good with surprises. Generally, an unexpected death will be just about the last thing you would ever have been expecting just before the email or phone call arrives telling you that the dead person has unexpectedly died. Most people just aren’t very flexible about this sort of thing.
For example, an email might arrive in your Inbox with nothing more than a friend’s name in the subject line. You might find yourself staring at the Inbox, hoping to christ almighty on a god damned crutch that this email is going to be about a surprise birthday party for your friend. Don’t be alarmed if a few seconds have to pass before you can actually bring yourself to open the email. After all, you know it isn’t anywhere near his birthday, and though there is still a chance that the email might concern some delightful and harmless bit of gossip about your friend, you have a pain in your tummy telling you, no, things aren’t going to be that easy.
Here, we shall pass over the moment when you allow yourself to actually see the words that carry the news. Here, most guides like this one will simply insert the words “something ghastly happens” and then move on, and so we will adopt that convention as well. There are, after all, no reliable reports of what this moment is really like.
Now you’ll find yourself in a twilight place. You’ve become a sudden and involuntary convert to a religion that can only exist in Bizarro World. You know the thing is true, but you don’t believe it. This is unfaith. Don’t be alarmed. This moment will not last.
And what are you currently reading that’s ink on paper, not phosphors on screen?
Inner-city HIV clinician and blogger Rivka pulls alongside that BBC documentary, hulls it at the waterline, rakes it amidships, and leaves it dead in the water. Rivka, have I mentioned, is a hero in the cause of lucidity, knowledge, and truth.