Hi Dan, welcome and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be glad to assist you today.
I am very sorry about your loss. Regarding your request, unfortunately, Google or Gmail cannot allow any access of his account since only your son has its password.
This is due to Gmail's very strict privacy and security policy. Unless you have his password, his Gmail account cannot be accessed.
You have 2 options though. First, if you have your son's computer or other gadget that he used to access his email, your can open it and see if his Gmail account is still logged in there automatically. Thus, you can do the contacting of his friends there if his email is logged in there automatically without the need of the password.
Second, and this is the best option as per Gmail's policy, is to report your son's death to Google/Gmail so that Gmail can secure the account (to prevent it from being hacked) and then deactivate it. The request is mainly to ask Gmail to close and deactivate his account to prevent it from being hacked. In the same request, you can also request to have the data on your son's email that could be valuable.
Here is the link to submit the appropriate request:
At the bottom part of the page, just select the appropriate report to submit (close his account or request for data) and then follow the on screen procedures to complete the request.
I hope that helped.
Please remember to rate my service positively (3-5 stars/faces) if this helped. Tips are always highly appreciated.
Thank you for using our service.