by Amanda Jewel Warren
In early 2019, I lost a close friend whom I had considered to be a sister. It happened suddenly and without warning. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I never thought it would happen.
My friend didn’t leave this life; she left me. She is very much alive and well, raising her children, and enjoying her life. But I grieved the death of our friendship as if she had died. It hurt that much.
The death of a relationship or friendship causes stages of grief on par with physical death. The stages of grief can include:
· Denial: disbelief
· Guilt: self-blame, or feeling like a burden to others for needing support
· Anger: lashing out; blaming the person, other people, or a higher power
· Depression: heavy heart, isolation, hopelessness, despair, feeling life is pointless
· Reflection: a feeling of calm; no more guilt, anger, or depression
· Healing process: picking up the pieces, letting go of hurts, forgiving self and/or other person
· Acceptance: embracing life on the other side of loss and feeling positive about the future
Not everyone will go through every emotion or in this order. Everyone is different in how they feel and how they heal.
Here are some suggestions to help you work through your grief at your own pace.
1. Put it in print: Write it in your journal. Whatever is in your head and heart, put it down on paper. Don’t judge yourself for what you’re feeling or thinking. This allows you to “word vomit” onto the page and can be a relief from your persistent thoughts and emotions.
2. Lash out safely: Fill up a bowl or bucket of ice, take it outside, grab a handful and throw it down on concrete or against a brick wall. Get those emotions out of your body. Picture whatever it is causing you pain and anger, transfer that energy into that ice, and destroy it. Screaming while you do this is also a good release. (Tip: You might want to warn the neighbors ahead of time.) You can also punch your mattress and scream into a pillow.
3. Work it out: Go for a run. Lift weights. Join a kickboxing class. Go to a batting cage and practice your swing. Play tennis or basketball. Anything to get your body moving to release the anxiousness or elevate your mood.
4. Relax: Focus on your breath. Meditate. Go for a nature walk. Practice yoga or tai chi. Bringing your mind into the moment helps you focus on the here and now instead of what could have been.
5. Find a support system: Set a time to meet with a friend(s) who will listen your feelings. Let them know you want to talk about this for a set amount of time, but then you and they should move on to another topic or do something together to brighten your mood. Having supportive, caring friends around can remind you that you aren’t alone in this.
6. Find a new hobby: Sign up for guitar lessons. Enroll in a pottery class. Try out for a play at your local theater. Join a martial arts class. Take up photography. Join a book club. Trying new things can open doors to learning more about ourselves and are great ways to meet different people.
7. Create something: Paint or draw a picture. Write a poem or short story. Plant flowers. Start an herb or vegetable garden. Cook a new recipe. Color in a coloring book. Seeing the results of your creation provides a boost of self-confidence. This can reassure you that you can get through this period of your life as well.
8. Take a road trip: Sometimes you just need to get out of town. Go somewhere new. Explore. Enjoy all the touristy things and let yourself leave the situation behind for a little while. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break to rejuvenate yourself.
9. Volunteer: One way to take your mind off of your own struggles is to help others. Organizations are always looking for volunteers—even online. Websites like volunteermatch.org list hundreds of virtual opportunities to help others right from your computer. Some organizations such as the Human Society do need in-person volunteers. If you’re able, call and see what they need. (You may even come home with a new fur-friend.)
10. Seek therapy: If you find you’re struggling to move forward or if you’re depressed, find a therapist or counselor. They can help you work through your feelings of grief, so you can begin to move into a healthier emotional state and make progress towards healing.
The most important thing to remember while you’re grieving the loss of your relationship/friendship is to let yourself feel. Blocking out or pushing down feelings only acts as a boiling pot of water; eventually, that boiling pot will overflow and make a mess. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and work through them in a productive way. This will ensure you are able to heal well and move forward in a more peaceful state of mind.