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“We all lose friends. We lose them in death, to distance, and over time. But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave the light on.”~ Amy Marie Walz
It hurts to lose a friend. Maybe, you simply grew apart once you became an adult, or maybe your friend moved to another city, state, or even country. Maybe, your friend died way before his or her time. Or, perhaps, you had a massive blowout that caused you to stop speaking to one another.
Losing a friend happens to everyone
Gaining and losing friends is a part of life. Friends will come and go many times throughout your life but, regardless of the reason, it is still hard to lose someone you have grown to love. And, for most of us, losing a friend will never be easy, especially if there is little-to-no hope of recapturing the friendship.
The good news is, you can personally recover from the loss. But, first, you must learn how to cope with it in a healthy and productive way. Truth-be-told, it will take effort. More specifically, it will take a boatload of patience, love, respect, tolerance, empathy, acceptance, and forgiveness. And, if there is a way to rekindle your friendship, it will take persistence and courage to mend broken fences or pick up the phone and say, “I love and miss you.”
It doesn’t have to define the friendship you once had
Losing a friend is hard, but it does not necessarily define what type of friend you are and it doesn’t have to define the friendship you once had or the one you could still have. If you are looking for ways to cope with losing a friend (ones that do not land you in jail), look no further. This article will teach you ways to cope with the loss of a friend so you can move on with your life.
Respect your friend’s wishes
Even though it may be painful to accept that your friend is no longer an integral part of your life, or in your life at all, that may be the only choice you have. You can’t make someone be your friend, if his or her heart isn’t in it. You can want it with all of your heart, but ultimately, it’s your friend’s decision whether to be your friend or not.
So, what should you do? Keep your distance and wait. More specifically, wait to see if the tides turn in your favor. Maybe your friend just needs time and space, and he or she will come back to you; maybe the season of your friendship has passed. Who knows? At this point, all you can do is respect your friend’s wishes.
Understand that some friends are only supposed to come into your life for a season, while others are supposed to be in your life for a lifetime. All you can do is learn from those who are in your life for a short while, and cherish the ones who are meant to be with you forever.
Grieve the loss then let it go
It’s normal and healthy to grieve a lost friendship but what isn’t normal and healthy is continuing to grieve the loss indefinitely. There comes a time when it’s time to let it go and move on with your life. It may take 6 months or even a year but you should eventually get to the last step of the grief process – acceptance.
If that’s not happening and you don’t see it happening in the future, it’s probably time to talk to a grief counselor, therapist, or psychologist. This mental health professional can help you work through your grief in a healthy way so you can heal from the loss. He or she can also teach you effective coping and stress-management techniques for when the loss feels uncomfortable or unbearable.
So, grieve and then emerge from your “grief cocoon” and re-enter the world of the living. A new world is waiting for you!
Try to stay busy
Another great way to cope with the loss of a friend is to be productive. Find something to occupy your time so you’re not obsessing over your lost friendship. Helping others is a great way to soothe hurt feelings and start the healing process.
At this point, you can’t change things, so use this time to focus on bettering yourself – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Volunteer in a domestic violence, homeless, or animal shelter, or mow lawns for your elderly neighbors or veterans, pay-it-forward to the person behind you at Starbucks, or spend time entertaining ill and disabled children at your local hospital.
Work on bettering yourself by improving your diet so it’s chocked full of healthy fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, omega-3, low-fat dairy, and water. Join a gym and work on your physical fitness. Learn how to do something new at your local college. The choices are limitless. Just stay busy until the pain starts to subside.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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