It’s going to happen. We all are going to lose a friend to geography, growing apart, a falling out or telling them you have feelings for them. Regardless of why the friendship ended, you are still left with the pain, sadness and reality that a person you cared deeply about is no longer a part of your life. There was intimacy and trust that is no longer there. Losing a friend can be just as painful, maybe even more painful, as losing a partner. Yet, most people do not treat it in the same way.
It takes time, and you may always feel a little sad, but eventually the tears stop, the ache turns to smiles and you are able to look back on the relationship with gratitude. Because even if the friendship was toxic, we learn something from each relationship in our lives. Here are some ideas on how to get over the loss of a friend.
It’s ok to be emotional
“One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive.” – Unkown
Whatever you are feeling, allow yourself to feel those emotions. If the friendship came to an end slowly, you may feel nostalgic. If it was an abrupt end, you may find yourself angry, upset, guilty, confused and/or raw. AND THAT IS OK. I’ve experienced it all. I’ve had toxic friendships end and felt relief. I’ve lost friendships due to time and distance and think back on the memories fondly. I’ve had friendships end where I don’t know what happened, or the fallout was painful, and I felt raw, hurt, sad and angry for a while. Avoiding these emotions will just prolong the healing process, so cry it out, journal or see a therapist if you need to.
Accept the situation. What’s meant to be will be.
“Give people time. Give people space. Don’t beg anyone to stay. Let them roam. What’s meant for you will always be yours.” -Reyna Biddy
Unfortunately, a friendship may come to end and it’s not what you want. Some friendships can be salvaged either through space and time or an open, vulnerable and honest heart to heart. Oftentimes, we don’t get the closure we want. Don’t try to force the closure. What’s meant to be will be – if you and your friend are meant to reconnect later in life, you will. It is possible to accept that for now, the friendship is over, but to hold hope in your heart for the future. And remember, no response from a friend is a response – listen to what their silence is telling you and respect their need/desire for the friendship to be over.
Social media detox
“Temporarily closed for spiritual maintenance” – Unknown
It is perfectly ok to unfollow a friend, limit your social media exposure and if needed, unfriend them. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is helpful in the beginning as you are likely still emotional and grieving. As much as you may miss that person, seeing them out with other friends is a torture you don’t need to put yourself through. It may also be necessary to avoid social situations for a while where you may run into your friend. Setting boundaries and protecting yourself while you heal is necessary.
Hello social life!
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate” – Oprah Winfrey
Once you’ve given yourself time to process and grieve the loss, it may be helpful to stay busy. Now is the time to focus on you – learn a new hobby, try out a new exercise class, go to movies, travel, or spend quality time with your other friends. Develop a mindset of gratitude – it helps you fall in love with the life you already have.
Lean into your tribe
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you” – Misty Copeland
Always remember, your other friends care about you – be open with them, talk to them and allow them to help you through this difficult time. Most likely, they have been through a similar thing and can offer advice and support.
Look back on the friendship with gratitude
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss
Every relationship we have in life teaches us something. Maybe the end of a friendship taught you the importance of setting boundaries, knowing your worth or gives you a deeper appreciation for those still in your life. And sometimes, we are the reason a friendship ended, forcing us to take an honest look in the mirror and accept responsibility for our mistakes. Don’t let a mistake define you moving forward –apologize, learn from it, grow and move on. Know that you will continue to love and thrive, even in the absence of a person who may have left an ineradicable mark.