Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Coping With the Loss of a Friend

Friendship is a special relationship that we can share with a spouse, another person, or a pet.  Losing a friend can be devastating, whether through abandonment, moving, divorce, or death. Going through the process of grief takes time, and everyone's schedule is different. It's important to take that time, find ways to cope that work for you and learn how to move on in a healthy manner.

What is Grief?

Grief is the response to a loss.  It's natural to feel emotional upon losing a friend. Reactions vary but may include anger, shock, guilt, and overwhelming sadness.  The closer the friend, the deeper the grief is felt.

The stages of grief are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
You may not go through every stage.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  It is unique and very personal to you. 

Effects of Loss

Following the loss of a friend, you may feel numb, lost, confused, unable to concentrate or make decisions, unable to sleep, and unable to stomach the thought of eating food.  So much has changed. This person was so much a part of your life.  You shared everything.  You were always together: talking, exercising, traveling, shopping, eating dinner, maybe even working.  Now, she's gone.  The feeling of emptiness is crushing.  Every place you hung out now brings back so many memories. 

Or maybe your husband was your best friend and he has either died or you've gotten divorced.  Meeting with lawyers, selling or dividing property, packing, making needed repairs to the home, moving, changing your insurance policies, trying to juggle work and household responsibilities as a single person or single parent, feeling insecure living on your own possibly for the first time, making sure bills get paid, trying to keep yourself together for your children, dealing with the guilt that you should have been able to save him or your marriage--on and on.  

If you've lost a pet, you experience loneliness, heartbreak, and sadness, too.  You miss the comfort your furry friend provided when you are sick, or the joyous greeting he offered when you come home from work.  Your children may feel confused and even afraid that they could lose others important to them as well.  Your friends may not understand the true depth of your loss since you "only" lost a pet, not a child or other human being dear to you.  But losing a pet can be just as difficult or even more so than losing a family member for some.  

It is a lot to take in and process.

Coping with Loss

So, what can you do to cope?  

In general, make sure you take care of yourself, first of all. Get plenty of sleep, eat balanced meals, pay attention to personal hygiene, and exercise regularly.  

Here are other ways you may find helpful to cope:
  • seek out the support of friends and family who understand the gravity of your loss
  • join a support group for spouses, pet owners, or friends, either locally or online
  • find comfort in your faith
  • keep a journal of your experience and how you are feeling
  • be honest about how you are feeling and accepting of those feelings
  • don't let anyone invalidate your feelings
  • meet anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions with a plan
  • create a memorial for your friend in your home or on your property
  • remember the good times by sharing funny stories about your friend
  • put money aside to save up to visit your friend who has moved
  • arrange for regular FaceTime or Skype chats with your friend who has moved
  • volunteer at a local animal shelter, and maybe eventually adopt a new pet when you're ready
  • date when you feel ready
  • go out on a double date or group date at first if you feel uneasy about being alone with a new man
  • host a potluck at your home
  • get out into your community - join a gym, volunteer at an organization near and dear to your heart, or join a bowling league or choral group--whatever you are interested in
  • Take a class or workshop 
  • Stay involved with your current hobbies or adopt new ones
When to Seek Professional Help

If you find that your grief isn't dissipating over time, or that it is intensifying, or that it is keeping you from getting on with your normal, daily life of responsibilities and activities, you may be experiencing complicated grief.  If you are feeling hopeless, worthless, intensely guilty, or suicidal, you may be clinically depressed. Seek professional help immediately.

Have you lost a dear friend?  If so, how did you cope?  Feel free to post in the comments or email me at  Take care.


  1. It is important to write and talk about grief as it is part of the healing. I like your point that people can grieve the loss of many things in their life, it doesn't have to be a death.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Writing and talking are so important, yes. Have a great weekend.