When my son Michael died suddenly at age 38, he left a pregnant wife and an infant. At the funeral I told those who crowded the cemetery that I had been there—when I lost my wife suddenly after a car accident. I said that I knew that as time passes people move on and fade away. I pleaded with family and friends to stay with Michael’s widow and children for years to come.
Two years later, the family is still there. So are some friends, some of the time.
My personal experience supports something I have long suspected in my work as a sociologist: under most circumstances friendship bonds cannot replace family bonds. This is important, given the decline of the family worldwide.