So I’ve been gone a while. Last post, my friend died. I’ll call her C. She was my friend for more than 20 years, and her sudden death hit me hard. Very hard. She was a unique friend in my life. She started as a coworker and morphed into an integral part of my daily life. To tell you the kind of person she was, I was injured one time. I was unable to do all the things I needed to do at work, but this stuff was important to get done. I was on a tight schedule. She was on vacation and came in to help me out, unpaid, giving up her own free time, because we were friends. She was the one who helped me up to escape my abusive ex. She gave me the confidence to decide I could live a better life.
I spoke at her funeral, ironically the same day my daughter was married. Death, life. Love, loss.
Even now, I weep every day at the loss of her.
The people around me every day do not know this. Only those closest to me do. It’s tough, because losing a friend isn’t the same as losing a spouse, or a child. The expectation is that you grieve and move on. Grief doesn’t work like that, though. Anger, bargaining, acceptance, etc, all come and go. One day I think I am okay, can think of her and smile, but then it’s as if a switch is flipped and I’m right back to day one.
So if you find yourself in the same position as me, know that you are not alone. Here are some tips for dealing with the grief of losing a friend.
- Acknowledge that your grief is just as important as other people’s grief. You may not be “family”, but you are a chosen family. You have suffered a loss, you deserve to grieve. There is a reason for the saying, “Friends are family we choose.” I find myself wanting to call C, tell her something that only she, knowing me for so long and the way she did, could appreciate.
- Be good to yourself at this time. You have created a life that included them in it. This loss time is not the time to make big decisions, change things up too much. Take the time to cry if you need to, and accept that some days are harder than others.
- Honor your friend in your grief. I was lucky to be asked to speak at C’s funeral. I was able to plan and speak to her family, let them (and others) know just how much she meant to me. I communicate with her daughter on Facebook still, commenting on her mother’s page. I have a plan for how to honor her memory at our work, as well. I think that by finding a way to give her tribute, I give a more permanent reminder that she was there, that she was so important.
- Ask for help if you need it. I am blessed to have understanding people around me. I can talk about my feelings often. It helps that C was a friend of many of my coworkers, because we can share the grief. If you don’t have that, find a counselor, therapist, other friend, minister, or just an anonymous blog to share. It helps to put your feelings into words.
- Remember that grief takes time, and is not a one-direction process. You are not going to move from one stage to another, linear, never returning. If you won’t give yourself permission, I will. You can take time to grieve. Your friend deserves it, and so do you. But don’t get stuck. Keep feeling what you are feeling, accept the sadness, remember the joy.
I hope that you and your life is full of happiness and good things. But if bad things happen, know that there is support for you.
I will continue to remember C, her love for me and my family, her unexpectedness. I loved her very much. As I do my work, I am reminded of how much I depended on her, and miss her laugh and her humor.