Grieving a Friendship

Grief sucks, and 2019 was filled with a LOT of it for me. Within eight weeks, I lost two grandmas, one great-aunt, and my beloved fur-baby, Stanley. It was frickin’ rough. Saying goodbye to these people (yes, my dog was like a human baby to me 🤷🏼‍♀️) was difficult. I couldn’t figure out how and when to be happy. I couldn’t get the tears to stop.

With my grandmas, we knew it was coming. I knew they’d be at peace once they passed, and it was a formality saying goodbye. I’m a hardcore believer that I’ll see them in our heavenly home someday. My great-aunt was unexpected. She lived a beautiful life of faith and love. My heart broke for my mom and grandparents because it was a painful loss for them. Once again, though, I believe she’s in her heavenly home. Stanley was a whole different story. He was my baby…my sidekick…my cuddle buddy. I still cry for him regularly, and my heart hurts more than I ever imagined it could. 

I had another great loss in 2019, but it was different. How? The person lost is still a walking, breathing, living human being. This loss hurts in a completely different way than death. Death is a finality. Death is a tangible goodbye. You know that person will not be coming back to hang out with you, laugh with you, or text you when you’re down. 

This loss was a friendship of 25 years. It was a friendship that started with two third-grade girls who were only separated by a fence between backyards. Want to play? Hop the fence. Want to have a sleepover? Hop the fence. The friendship sustained a 300+ mile move. It overcame a lack of communication during our high school years before cell phones and MySpace made their appearance. But somehow, in our thirties between significant others, kids, and careers, it all fell apart.

I feel like I’m grieving a divorce or something. I mean, really. I texted and Snapchatted with this gal pal all day every day. If I didn’t hear back within an hour of a silly Snapchat, I legit worried that something was wrong! So how do you move on? I’m still trying to figure that out, but here’s a briefing of what {I think} I’ve figured out.

Accept the role you played in the demise.

Things went down with a earth-shattering crash…I never saw it coming. I won’t go into details, because I still love this person dearly and cherish everything we had. To sum up, I was sent multiple texts of things that she found hurtful over the past several years. I felt like I owned up to them and validated her feelings. Whether I did or not, I guess we’ll never know. As with anything, it’s key to accept the things you did (or didn’t do) to hurt someone even if you wouldn’t have found them hurtful yourself.

Apologize. 

I did this over and over in our final exchanges. I owned it. I apologized. Clearly, it didn’t fix things, but I did it. 

For all things beautiful and ugly, READ  The 5 Love Languages.

I read this book when I first got engaged. It was gifted to us, and it’s been a relationship saver throughout many disagreements. However, I never thought of applying it to other relationships in my life. Oh, how I wish I had. This friend of mine clearly receives love and feels love in different ways than I do. Maybe if I had applied these five simple things to our friendship, I could have prevented the downfall by giving love and friendship in the ways she desired. Maybe not, but I’ll never know now.

Talk!

This is one I kick myself over now. The times that she felt I was absent…I was. What if I had explained to her the deep depression that I was going through? What if I had told her how the feeling of failure consumed me when we were in the process of closing our business? What if I explained to her how horribly my heart hurt when dealing with my daughter’s MRKH diagnosis? I mean, apparently, I expected her to be a mind reader. I figured she had her own stuff going on, so I didn’t want to burden her with my own. Plus, my pride was so ridiculously hurt that there was no way I wanted to admit it to anyone but me, myself, and I. 

That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. Other than that, I think it’s just the whole “time heals all wounds” situation. At least, I hope. It’s been about 10 months since all of this went down, and I still think of her daily. I still want to text her with good news, and when I want to cry. I regularly have to stop myself from Snapchatting her when I see something hilarious in the grocery store. Life goes on, and I’ll continue to grieve.

In the meantime: accepting applications for a new bestie…sorry, the bar is high so you gotta knock it outta the park.      

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4 Responses to Grieving a Friendship

  1. Shifra Glassman
    Shifra Glassman January 7, 2020 at 1:54 am #

    Wow! I’m going through the exact same thing myself. My best friend of over 30 years. I see it all falling apart, and I know I can’t fix it. I miss her so much. I never saw it coming.

    • Sarah Heep
      Sarah Heep January 7, 2020 at 8:27 pm #

      It’s heartbreaking, right?! Total shock….so sorry your heart is hurting, too. 🙁

  2. Avatar
    Jenny V. January 12, 2020 at 5:05 pm #

    Thanks for writing this, Sarah. I went through the exact same thing the last couple of years. There were five of us that ran together in high school and we stayed in touch over the years (we graduated in 1989). They were supposed to be my best friends. My “ride or die.” Yet in hindsight, I was the one they always had the biggest problems with. The one that, even in our 30s and 40s, they would consistently gang up on. I was also the only one who got the hell out of Iowa 21 years ago. Was that the reason? Who knows?!

    I obviously don’t know your circumstances, but based on my experience, if someone comes back at you for things you supposedly did in the past, and thinks it’s appropriate to tell you over text, then it’s on them for not telling you how they felt when it happened. Not you. There’s no way you could know how someone was feeling and how to properly react at all times.

    At the same time, if you have things going on, like something as serious as a diagnosis for your child, you don’t owe anyone any explanation as to why you were distant or not feeling up to sharing.

    I understand that guilt is a normal reaction, and I went through that myself, but at the end of the day, she’s not perfect, either. I saw my friends drop one by one the last couple of years, and although we have known each other for 33 years, apparently they didn’t feel like they owed me an explanation of why. We hadn’t had a fight. We hadn’t even seen each other in a couple years.

    As with your situation, there’s a lot more to it than that, and I absolutely hold some culpability. But I feel like, as humans, we can’t work with information we’re not given. We’re not mind readers. I also believe that after 20 or 30 years, we should be given the benefit of the doubt. I deserved more than being carelessly tossed to the side.

    I just wanted you to know I felt your pain while reading this, and after doing my own research, while reading lots and lots of articles and blog posts about breaking up with friends, I no longer feel guilty. And I no longer feel bad for not knowing exactly what they needed at the exact time on the exact day. This is a two-way street, and I can hold my head up high knowing that I was always the one who reached out. Who showed up. Who tried to meet them in the middle. When they never did.

    I just hope that soon enough you’ll be able to forgive yourself and move on to a better place. I beat myself up on and off for YEARS while watching things with these women crumble around me. I finally realized by doing that I’m giving them too much power. Fully letting it go helped me get my power back.

    Thanks again for writing this. This is a much more common situation than people are willing to admit. I’m very glad you stepped up and spoke your truth.

    • Sarah Heep
      Sarah Heep January 13, 2020 at 6:58 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words, Jenny!

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