Losing your best friend

Linda, a woman I recently met, told me about the loss of her best friend.   

They had known each other for many years and had shared the challenges of children, husbands and aging parents as well as the celebrations in life. They shared secrets and believed each was understood in the special way that best friends do.

Then Linda’s friend died suddenly while on holiday. Linda was devastated and still struggles to reconcile her loss. She says that it feels like a huge part of her history is now silent, lost. She misses her best friend greatly.

There are stories she can share with others and memories she can talk about, but as with any intimate best friend relationship, it had a life of its own. The private conversations where dreams were shared and troubles bared created a deep connection. The support, encouragement and love along with the times that they needed to just dump all those thoughts out on the table created a deep bond when there was trust and respect.

Such relationships, where the other person is very, very important in your life, are not plentiful. They are to be treasured maybe even revered. When someone else ‘gets’ us, that’s pretty special – and important. Some would call it a blessing.

But it can end.

Some can lose their best friend when they get divorced. For one reason or another the marriage ends. The history they shared is muted. It can be inappropriate to recall and talk about the fun times and bring them into the present.

When a partner dies, there is a coming together of support from the closest friends to the merest acquaintance. People bring food, flowers and send cards. They meet the loss with love, compassion and shared grief.

The bereaved are expected to behave however they feel is appropriate to them.  After all, they have lost their love and best friend, the one they shared their life with. Portrait and family photos are enlarged and placed around the home. Sometimes there is an area like a shrine set up, where small items are placed. Maybe photos and personal items that had belonged to the loved one. It can help with grieving.

Anniversaries and special holidays are considered an opportunity for close friends and family to once again offer support and show they care. In our shared humanness we value love and know that life can be tenuous. It helps to know others care.

When friends are lost, it is like a slice of history gets swept away.

Divorce is difficult for others to adjust to. An announcement of divorce is not usually met by a flood of support. Instead there are sly looks of judgement, whispers and sometimes unsolicited and ignorant advice. Grieving must take place in private, for as short a time as possible. You are supposed to move on to your new life. Continual grieving and confusion is referred to as wallowing.

The photos are put away, anniversaries aren’t mentioned, the significant achievements are silent, the sacrifices made are irrelevant and that piece of history is gagged because the ultimate event has shown them to be obsolete. A divorce nullifies years of commitment, love and best kept secrets. Worst of all, those confidences, hopes and dreams are no long bound by trust and love – and may now be the source for derision and ridicule.

Losing a good friend, a best friend or a partner is a sad time for those involved. It is an opportunity for us to be aware of their pain and show our love.


Some ways to remember:

1.  On those special anniversaries, I pause for a moment and try to remember kindly.

2.  I’m grateful for the good times, the accomplishments and the good people who have been part of my life.

3.  I’m careful what I share with people. I speak of my past circumspectly.

4.  When people offer advice, I listen and don’t become defensive. I ask myself, “What if they’re right?” “What can I learn?” Along with, “They have no idea!”

5.  I don’t poison my future with my thoughts of the past. I believe my future is bright.

6.  I don’t let thoughts play in my mind that are inappropriate now. No re-writing history or playing ‘what if?’

I may always love my ex for the person that he was at that time in our past and our life together, but I no longer love my ex. Love is a verb that requires action. When you love someone you are actively involved in actions of love for that person.

I have an increased compassion for people who have lost someone through a change in circumstance, moving away or dying. I know that each of us has an invisible bag of bricks we carry.