The Devastating Experience of Losing A Best Friend

There seems to come a time in every young adult’s life when friends start to drop like flies. You go from having a plethora of best friends, good friends, and acquaintances to only having a core group of people in your life. This is all very well and good (cutting the fat can be necessary and whoever’s still meant to be in your life will continue to be there, right?), but it’s still a dreadful traumatizing experience that no one seems to ever talk about. Everywhere you turn, there are movies being produced and books being written about breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Oh, the horrors! You lie in bed, eat ice cream, talk shit with your girlfriends, and start sleeping with someone else. This Hollywood version of “grieving” can even be done entirely in a montage set to a KT Turnstall song. A dumped person is seen as a totally tragic sympathetic figure and is given the appropriate support to help “make it through.”

When friendships end, when the ten-year bonds you have with someone who feels like family start to dissolve, we’re left with no instruction manuals. We don’t have a movie to turn to or a book to read. Pop culture has pushed it under the rug. You can vent to your other friends who will undoubtedly take your side, you can feel really bad for awhile and maybe even cry at work. People will understand because, oh my god, “breaking up” with a best friend can sometimes feel worse than breaking up with a significant other!

Yeah, it can. So why is it never really discussed? In theory, close friendships are supposed to be everlasting. They’re built to survive your lovers (and maybe even your husband or wife) and glide with you to the finish line. Best friends are not meant to have a lot of baggage because they’re a respite from all of the other bullshit you have going on in your life. They’re the anti-baggage.

When a relationship ends, it sort of makes sense. People fall out of love with another, situations change, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. Your lovers come in to your life at a certain time and you give what the other one needs. Sometimes they’ll want what you’re giving them forever and sometimes they won’t. Even though breakups are terrible and earth shattering, they almost feel a little less personal than the end of a close friendship. I mean, there are countless movies, TV shows and books about this, remember? They’re a fact of life. It’s not you, I swear,  it’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

But the end of a friendship is all about you. It’s nothing but you. It’s almost like a personal attack on your character. Someone who once thought of you as a beautiful soul now sees some ugly in you. They wanted to talk to you everyday and now they’re willfully distancing themselves. Meanwhile, you’re left thinking, “What did I do wrong? Where’s my partner in crime? Why don’t you want to be a part of my life anymore? I planned on you having e a major role and now you’re reducing yourself to a cameo.” There are no easy answers and certainly none can be found in a Jennifer Aniston movie. By the way, when Jen Aniston doesn’t want to address your life issues in a blockbuster movie, that’s when you know you’re dealing with some heavy stuff.

Instead, the friendship just dies. Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s scary how easy it can happen, how simple it is to disconnect yourself from someone’s life. You just remove the plug. Bye bye.

When I think of all the people who once meant everything to me and now mean nothing, I get a little sick to my stomach. I wonder how it could’ve happened and why things couldn’t have stayed the same. And then I remember that just like the dissolution of a relationship, friendships are casualties of time. I mean, time is the silent killer of everything. It chips away at things that were once thriving. Tick tock, chip chip. And it will continue to do so. You just have to understand that time will preserve the special relationships. It won’t kill anyone off who’s not meant to be killed off. It’s hard to come to terms with that realization though when you’re in the thick of all the relationship death and all you would like to do is call up your old best friend again and tell them about your day. TC mark

image – The Simple Life

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Bri

    So true.

    • Cetty Tripodo

      very sad :(

  • Lukas

    I feel like it's also not discussed enough that maintaining good friendships is work. We often expect them to be carefree and easy, but sometimes it's important to give them as much, or more, nurturing and delicacy as we give our romantic relationships in order to make sure they're “healthy.”

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    • Ryan O'Connell


  • anon

    The worst part is when something terrible happens after a friendship breakup… in my case it was sexual assault. Every day I want to call her and make tea together and cry about it, but I can't. It's so hard to get through something like that without your former soulmate. Hopefully someday I'll have a friendship like ours that will actually last.

    • Nicole

      This really spoke to me, as I’ve gone through the same thing. Hopefully one day, we’ll both find inner peace.

  • Paradiso Shlee

    This is the end.

  • Ian

    I thought only girls in high school had best friend falling-outs…guess I was wrong.

  • Bri

    So true.

  • Brandy Pass

    Even “real” breakups with partners are often underplayed in media. As you said, they can often be summed up in the length of a song. But with these breakups, along with the loss of friendships, I find the grief to be somewhat cyclical and somewhat chaotic, meaning it never just goes away, it comes and goes and it comes and goes, all very unpredictably. That level of loss is never simple or easy to sum up.

  • lesigh

    !! the fox and the hound? i become an emotional mess even thinking about those two

  • Natalie Lee

    Relevant when I wish it wasn't.

  • RamonaCC

    The art of losing isn't hard to master…

    • Mitszie

      So many things intend to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

  • Paddle

    You just spelled out my life's story. Took me a year to get over it after crying and crying and the worst thing he said in the middle of it, while I was trying to decipher what happened and why we were no longer friends was “just fucking get over it”. You start to think it was not worth it, but ultimately, if that person is important enough to you, you will try your hardest to keep them in your life.

  • CG

    love you ryan o'conn. your articles always seem to tug at my heartstrings

  • Ng Lay Peng

    Sometimes it just can't be helped that people grow apart. I tend to do regular spring cleaning on the people who I keep around me because sometimes even the besterest of friends can be rather toxic to one's well-being.

    Breaking up with good friends are tough, but those who are meant to be in your life will always come back and for those who don't, there's a reason why they are gone.

  • tee

    …makes so much sense…and tugs at the heartstrings…yep… ryan speaks TRUTH

  • Eliza

    I lost my best friend due to many things…And it just happened today. I saw her in the hallway and she pulled me over to talk for a minute. She said that she couldn’t be friends with me anymore bc her mom hates me. Her mom has never even met me..bc I always went over to her house when she was at her dads! The pain is unbearable. It hurts so much and idk what to do:(

  • Jsirykissoon

    I recently lost my best friend of 8 years and our friendship’s demise has hurt me more than the end of any relationship I’ve had. I just hope that someday I can get to a point where it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care anymore..

    • tikifun360

      Exactly three months ago, I also lost my best friend of 8 years.

      If you are still struggling, how I sort of am, I wish you good luck hun.

  • Linda

    I lost my best friend on December 23 2010, I lost her in the most final way you can be lost, we were together as children as teenagers as young adults, as young mothers and as grandmothers. There were times in our lives that we did not speak to each other for weeks sometimes months, we were like sisters and we got angry with each other and sometimes I felt that she did not deserve my friendship but somehow we always make things right. We were married within 2 yrs of each other, she was in my bridal party and I was her maid of honor, I was with her when she and her first husband separated and then divorced, our kids grew up together as if they were cousins and they are still very close, I consider them my niece and nephew. I was with her when she married her second husband, and then they also divorced. When she met her boyfriend Mike, my husband became very close to him and we traveled around the world together, they were the best couple I knew, they were good looking, funny and they loved us as much as we loved them. I didn’t think I would ever be without her, I really thought we would grow old together, we even spoke about going into the same old age home, when the time came and then we thought NO, we will sell one of our houses and hire someone to take care of us with the money from the sold house.
    Sixteen months after she passed from pancreatic Cancer, her boyfriend and my husband & my friend, passed as well, as I write this I still can’t believe they are both gone. He died of Cancer also. He was 65 and she had just turned 60. We were friends for 57 or 58 years, we could never remember how old we were when we met because as far as ours memories go we were both there, she went back further then my memory, therefore I think I was 2 or 3 when we met.
    I am grateful that she met her boyfriend and that we stayed friend through the good times and the bad, I’m happy I was able to care for her along with her daughter and her first Xhusband who became a good friend to her after their divorce and who has always been a friend to me and my husbands and as insane as it sounds became very close to her boyfriend and was also there for him when he was sick and dying from lymphoma.
    The reason I am writing this is because I want people to know that friendship is work just like a marriage and if you really want to keep that person in your life than call them or better yet write them a letter a real letter the kind you put a stamp on and put in the mailbox. I did that at one point in my relationship with my best friend when I was very angry and I told her why, my letter changed our lives and sent us onto the rest of our time together without any baggage from the past and those last years were probably the best ones, our kids were grown our men enjoyed being together as much as we did and we traveled to beautiful places and made the best memories.
    I have no regrets, but I think that if I had let go of her when I was so angry and then to hear that she had passed I would have so many regrets.

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on The Chronicles of Me.

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