How To Cope With The Death of a Friend
The death of a friend is one of the biggest / most challenging losses one can experience in life. When a friend dies, it can be extremely difficult to transition from the mourning process into living the rest of your life to its fullest. This does not mean that the mourning process should be rushed by any means, but in order to make this transition, we must allow ourselves time and be compassionate toward ourselves in order to naturally get through the tough times that we will inevitably experience. Here are a few steps that will help you cope with the loss of a friend:
1. Realize It Is Going To Take Time
If you break your leg, you can't expect yourself to get up and walk confidently the next day without feeling any pain, so why is it that one can get angry at their self for having a difficult time dealing with the death of a friend? Healing takes time, especially if the loss was a best friend you spent a lot of time with and/or grew up knowing most of your life. The loss can leave a deep wound that leaves you feeling empty and very hurt. Don't allow yourself to feel even worse just because you feel that way. The sooner you stop beating yourself up about how long it is taking you to deal with the loss, the sooner your body and mind will begin to heal themselves.
God designed our bodies and minds in a way that we will heal in perfect timing. If He had made us with no emotion at all, like robots that continue to do the same things everyday no matter what happens, we'd never grow into anything greater and would have no compassion for others. Death would be something about which we wouldn't care one bit. The healing takes time for a reason... we were made to care about one another and to care for ourselves, and by taking this time we as humans grow in compassion and in strength being able to handle more trials that come our way.
2. Validate How Serious The Loss Is To You
The loss of a friend can be just as painful as the loss of a family member... and sometimes may even be more painful than losing a family member. Should you feel guilty because you are hurting so badly about a friend??? Absolutely not...
The bonds we develop with friends can often go beyond blood relations. It does not mean that you love your family any less. That friend may be family to you in your mind, which is why it is such a severe loss. And in the cases where your best friend is a family member, you may experience an even greater feeling of loss. And in the same respect, if you feel less severe a feeling of loss, don't feel guilty that you don't feel worse. Allow yourself to naturally feel the way you do and cope with the rest from there. Maybe you didn't know the friend as closely as others with whom you spend more time. Even if you wanted to spend more time with that person, it is not possible for one individual to be deeply connected with each and every other person on earth... some people will become closer to you than others physically and/or emotionally. It's a fact of life.
3. Engage Yourself In Activities To Replace The Time You Spent With Your Friend
"What?? Did you say REPLACE the time I spent with them?! My friend could never be relaced!!"
Yes, in fact I did say to replace the time you spent with your friend... but in no way did I mean that the "friend" can be relaced. When you lose a friend, you realize right away that no one could replace that person in your life because of their unique influence they had on your life. But... part of moving passed the initial pains of the grieving process involves learning to enjoy yourself doing other things with your time. Yes, it definitely hurts not spending time with the lost friend, but that doesn't mean you are destined to never enjoy any other pieces of your life. God is much bigger than that. He would never have created you to only be happy when spending time with the one friend. We are all here for each other and there are many opportunities to enjoy life... we just must be willing to experience them. Keep your eyes and your hearts open to experiencing new joys and wonders. And even though it may sound cliché, I guarantee you that the lost friend would want you to find happiness for the rest of your life, not to dwell in a place of suffering until you die as well. They would want you to be happy and simply use the positive influence they had on your life to pass on to others and live peacefully.
4. Know That Others Do Care & Will Understand You
Once again, God would not have created only one individual in life to understand you and truly care for you as a friend. It's hard to believe that, when the lost friend was your closest friend in your life with whom you could share anything, but there are others who do care and will understand you as a person. First step to finding out is opening up your heart and mind for this to occur. If you constantly tell yourself, "No one will ever understand me like (he/she) did!" then your reality is as what you said. No one will be open enough with you to truly care deeply and understand... BUT... when you open yourself up for the possibility of someone else caring for you and understanding you, then you will create that reality and attract those who want to care for you and understand you. You must be open in order to truly experience this because otherwise, your thought that no one will ever care or understand repels any opportunity for things to turn around in your life. Rejoice in the fact that there are absolutely others out there to love you and understand you.
5. Reaching Out To Other People Helps You Cope With Your Loss
I have been told countless times when going through my own recent losses (a broken engagement, the death of my mother, the death of my grandfather, and just yesterday, the death of one of my own best friends) that reaching out to other people helps you to cope with your own losses. At first I thought, "What about me? How is that going to help me feel better? Who is going to reach out to me?!" ... but I can honestly say that one of the biggest aids in coping with your own grief is by helping someone else in need.
One of the greatest feelings in life comes from sharing anything positive you have on the inside of you with others... you end up finding that you have a lot more to offer than you expected, and (at least for me) nothing feels greater than helping to put a smile back on someone's face. There are countless opportunities to do this:
- Community Service - find out what your community already has in place to help other people - Join them in changing lives for the better
- Get Involved In A Church Family - Churchs offer plenty of opportunity to help others in need and to get hooked up with others who have a heart for reaching out to others
- Talk With Others Who May Have Experienced The Same Loss - Ask other friends how they are dealing with the loss - Ask them how they are doing - Share good memories of the lost friend with each other
- Be Creative - Create new ways to help others - Random Acts Of Kindness - Write Encouraging Blogs - Pick Up Trash On The Roads [take safety precautions, of course] - "Pay It Forward" - ETC
6. Express Yourself Through Journaling, Poetry, Blogging, Songwriting, ETC
If your friend was your primary source of support, you will have a desire to talk with them and share your grief with them. This is natural. I don't know how many times I have picked up my cell phone wanting to call my mom, then realizing that she would not answer. But, there are absolutely ways to help you express how you feel in order to relieve some of the feelings of grief and despair.
Whenever you feel the need to talk to your lost friend, try writing about them in a journal or even writing a letter to them in your journal. If you enjoy writing poetry, write a poem in dedication to them or simply to express what you are feeling in mourning over them. Write a blog about them, maybe sharing with others the positive things you remember about them that have influenced your life. Write a song in their memory. Don't ever feel like you have to sit expressionless in dealing with the loss. Express yourself! Let others know how amazing your friend was by expressing yourself to them! :)
7. Always Remember The GOOD Things About Your Friend
Forcing yourself to forget about your friend is NOT a good way to cope with their loss. Let's face it, you will never truly forget them. And if you are honest with yourself, you DON'T want to ever forget them. Remember all of the incredible memories you shared. Think of how they enriched your life... how they supported you, loved you, laughed with you, cried with you... Share these positive things with others and allow the pain you are feeling to fade as you begin to be an incredible friend to others. You will find that much of the character, integrity, love, personality, etc, that you loved in your lost friend will begin to pour out of you as if they never left you. Their legacy can live on through your actions around others. That is what a healthy form of sorrow will do for you. It will allow you to change more into the person you have wanted/needed to become and has a way of helping others to do the same.
2 Corinthians:7:10 - Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Allow yourself to have a sorrow that produces repentance, a change in heart & mind, that will help you grow closer to God... a sorrow that leaves no regrets... a sorrow that makes you want to be a better person... a sorrow that brings about life, not death. By doing this, you will naturally transition through the grieving process into living your life to its fullest, standing firm on all that you truly are.