Friends are a significant part of our lives. They are there to share laughs, celebrations, and joys. They are there when we need a shoulder to cry on. And they are there to help us back up after we fail or fall. They are the family we choose; someone we want to be a part of our lives. Losing a friend can be as devastating as losing a family member. The grief you feel is shaped by your unique relationship and the connection you shared with your friend. Friendships are complex yet so beautiful, often based on trust, respect, and admiration. The loss of such a major connection can have a monumental impact on your life. But however you feel, don’t be impatient with yourself and your emotions.
As you know, death is inevitable and can visit our lives anytime. It could be sudden or it could be a long time coming but nothing can prepare us for the moment it actually happens. Even when you’re intellectually aware that nobody is invincible, losing someone you love is never easy. Your mind may get stuck searching for an answer to the unanswerable question, “why?”. You may ask yourself, “Will I ever be able to overcome this?” The answer is yes, yes you can. Even though it may not seem so at the present moment, there will come a time when you’ll realize that suffering a loss has changed your life forever. And there are several things that you can learn from it. These five strategies below can help you navigate your grief, regardless of the circumstances.
Find support that can hold you up
Suffering in silence can be difficult as it can make you feel alienated and out of touch. The lack of recognition will also taint how you cope with grief. Surrounding yourself with people who will hold you up when you’re about to crumble will provide you with a sense of compassion. Losing a dear friend means losing an integral part of your friends’ circle but it also means that you don’t need to endure this terrifying ride alone. Finding support with your friends’ group or even your family can strip away all filters and push you to acknowledge your most vulnerable self. Listening to others share their experiences and stories while you share yours as well is a step towards starting the slow healing process.
Accept not having an answer
It’s natural to have one question wreaking havoc on your mind, “why?” Why now? Why them? Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer to this question. Life is extremely complicated. Bad things do happen to good people but healing begins with cultivating awareness of the present and finding ways to deal with the uncertainty of life. Accepting that there will never be an answer isn’t defeat. Acknowledging the unknown can lead to feelings of relief.
Keep a journal
Sometimes we struggle to get in touch with our feelings. Loss stirs up complex emotions that are hard to decipher. There could be anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, or regret. Exposing your wound of loss might feel unbearably painful but always know that it gets worse before it gets better. Addressing these emotions can be difficult, especially if you’re not one for talking. That’s where journaling can be of great help. A journal provides a safe space for you to express yourself freely. You don’t need to restrict or censor yourself. Writing down feelings and thoughts that others expect you to keep inside can feel particularly cathartic. It can help you acknowledge and process the loss while also gaining some measure of closure.
Take your time
We don’t often acknowledge this but healing is a time-consuming process. It’s a journey that is unique to you, which progresses according to your level of emotional intelligence. Life isn’t going to be the same without your friend. You’re going to miss them no matter how much time passes and that’s completely normal. If anything, this experience should help you realize that life should be treasured one day at a time. Contemplating the past or worrying about the future won’t change anything. It won’t bring them back or change what happened. Staying grounded to the present through the power of your breath will anchor you to the moment. It’ll help you bring your mind back to now when it takes you places you don’t wish to go. Gently remind yourself to focus on one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.
Comfort yourself in your sorrow
Grief can be cruel; it can steal your breath away with pain. But you hold the power over whether you let it consume you or not. Don’t let your own mind hurt you more than it already has. Show yourself compassion and kindness by finding meaningful ways to comfort yourself. Give yourself words of inspiration and support. Laugh when you can. Snuggle into your favourite blanket. Go outside for a sunlit walk. Bake a batch of your favourite cookies. Do the things that bring you comfort. Don’t rob yourself of joy or feel guilty for having times of happiness and laughter. This doesn’t mean you love or miss the person any less or your grief is invalid.
Painful as it is, grief is a natural part of life, something that everyone goes through at one point. But grief also teaches us not to take our loved ones for granted, it teaches us to cherish the time we have, it teaches us to be patient, to find purpose to move on, and to stay true to ourselves. This might seem incredulous but finding beauty in pain can make the sharp sting of loss feel somehow more manageable.