It’s a whole different level of grief. Not like any other.
At first it’s dirty. It’s a little like a street fight, a little like hitting a pothole and swerving off the road. You weren’t expecting it. You were just driving along and everything felt fine.
The initial impact hurts, but maybe the shock and absurdity of it all prevents you from really feeling the pain. Maybe you feel numb with disbelief. You might even blame yourself for not paying enough attention. Either way, you’re in the ditch and it sucks.
So you are growing up, so you are changing. Why does that mean pain? So maybe as you grow, you stretch and adjust and mold into the new parts of yourself. You slide yourself into positions of opportunity as they present themselves for you – and so do your friends. Maybe you get home from your rec basketball league game and your friend is sitting on the couch reading over work emails. Maybe it’s almost midnight and you crack a beer and start making dinner and your friend folds their laptop and slips away to their bedroom. Maybe they make an ambiguous comment – or maybe you imagined that. Somehow the distance between the kitchen and their closed bedroom door feels like an ocean and the next sip of beer feels so much like drowning that you pour the rest down the sink.
Sometimes losing a friend is a fire that starts with differing opinions, an argument of ridiculous proportions, or something as stupid as an unwashed plate. We’ve all been there. The place where you say things you don’t really mean because you are hurt. But instead of admitting you are hurting, you disguise your hurt as anger because you are sick of feeling vulnerable and pathetic for wanting love or care.
Why suddenly are we afraid to be the one who cares the most? Why does being the one who cares the most suck? In what world does that make sense? Isn’t caring a good thing?
I’ll tell you this. If you took a bird’s eye view of the friendship, you might see there was a certain level of selfishness on one, or both, of your parts, and this put a barrier between you. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you can look at their behaviour as something completely separate from you, and understand that their actions were based on their view and their understanding of their world, it puts things into a perspective that’s easier to endure.
Yet even if you understand, even if you know that it is inevitable that people grow apart, it doesn’t stop the ache. And I know, you never thought you would grow apart from this person.
You had childhood or teenage dreams together, and you watched them come true as you grew together. You had a bond. Their family was your second family. Your mom treated them like your sibling. You were supposed to be in each other’s wedding. You talked about the future without a doubt that they would be in it. Because at that moment, there was no feasible reason they wouldn’t be.
It will never not suck that this happened. It is never not going to hurt when your mom asks about them and you don’t really know what to say.
Whatever you do, don’t say it doesn’t matter. It does. Let yourself acknowledge that you are sad. Let yourself admit sadness. Just as it is vital for you to understand the ways people grow apart, it is equally vital that you allow yourself to grieve the friendship.
And I don’t care what your belief is, I’m telling you there is a good reason why you and this person are separating. Maybe it’s temporary, maybe it’s forever, but there is a reason.
Trust that if the friendship was deep enough, true enough, the connection between you two will never be completely severed. There might be a period of time where you need go your own way, but this time apart will allow you to go down a path they didn’t have the capacity to support you on. If you are experiencing the loss of a friend, or any loss really, Neale Donald Walsch does a damn good job of helping us through it with this quote:
“It could seem like you are losing something right now, but do not be fooled. This is simply a turnaround orchestrated by your soul. Let it go. Release it. If it was not supposed to be removing itself from you now, it would not be doing so. It will never return to you in this exact form, and it is not intended to. If it returns at all, it will be in a higher form. That is the purpose of its leaving. All of life only improves itself. It can’t do anything else. This is called evolution. Trust it.”