Let me just say how sorry I am, Laura, about your friend. When someone loses their life to an eating disorder it's always a painful reminder to all of us how powerful and dangerous these illnesses are.
You're so right, Laura, about how death usually isn't expected when it's a result of an ED. We know that people can feel fine and then die. We know that there isn't a way to predict exactly when death could occur- it could be after a very brief illness, after years of the illness, after a period of treatment where the illness is receding and the person is working hard in recovery...
You know what I find the hardest of all this though? It's that the people who are often at the most risk for death from their EDs are also often the least likely to be able to see the truth. Laura, when you invite people to doing something instead of exercise or binge/purge or restrict, I say, right on. And you know what? It's the people that are a bit of a ways into their recovery that will most be able to hear you and to choose some other activity. The sufferers who are very entrenched in their disorders, who are clinging to the disorder to feel "safe" are the least likely to be able to hear you, let alone to choose a less destructive behavior.
I met with a lovely woman recently who is in just this position. She's had a severe eating disorder for many years, and it's been a volatile one with lots of bingeing and purging and starving. She came to me for a consultation and it was a difficult hour. I just didn't feel like she understood the damage she's been causing herself, and how the longer she continues the behavior, the more likely it is that her body won't be able to hold on. I sat there wondering if there was anything more I could do to impress this on her; but I could see I wasn't really getting through to her (one of those times I seriously wished for a magic wand).
It's one of the very frustrating things about these eating disorders.
As you go to the memorial service for your friend, Laura, I hope you'll be able to have lots of gratitude for your own recovery and to be able to take stock of just how far you've come in your work on yourself. Best of luck, and good wishes, in what must be a very sad time for you.