Friendship in the time of loss
Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it will be already a year since a very close friend of mine suddenly passed away. I also can’t believe I’m sitting here, enjoying a beautiful summer morning, writing these lines. It sounds a bit like an oxymoron.
A year ago, my reality looked very different. But I guess it would be the same for everyone who experienced a sudden loss.
I used to think I’m quite good at handling things on my own. And, at the very beginning of this whole new life period, where I won’t be able to talk the person I lost anymore I thought, I’ll need a few days to cry, and life will hopefully get better.
It did not, for quite some time. It might have been way longer if it weren’t for my friends and family, their patience, understanding and the fact that they were there for me. Sometimes, the best way to help someone brighten their day or to show them life still has a lot of great moments to live for is to let them know they are not on their own. Whatever that means. Everything counts.
And so looking back at the past year, I’d like to share a few things my friends did for me (consciously or unconsciously) that helped me to get to the stage where I can start enjoying life again.
A chance to say goodbye
Not many people have it, especially if someone passes away out of the blue. One of my girl-friends called me shortly after my friend died and suggested to write him a letter. I can’t believe this idea didn’t pop in my mind given the fact I write almost every day. But at that time, I was also not thinking straight.
I remember writing the letter, tear rolling down my cheeks. The relief that followed after was one of the most liberating feelings at that time.
What does it mean to be there for someone
I guess for everyone a different thing. For me, it was a friend who unexpectedly showed up at the airport to surprise me after she’d heard what happened. After leaving the city where my friend died, flying for seven hours only to get out of the plane and face a new reality straight away? If she didn’t show up, I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t be happier to see a familiar face at the arrival gate.
Sometimes to be there for the other person also means to offer a shoulder to cry on, a hug. Or if you are like me, the people closest to me always send me some hilarious dog videos and gifs. They know me well.
Try to understand and listen
There were a lot of moments when my friends tried to tell me it’s time to move on. To start living again and to live in the moment. Not in the past. Not to think about what if. Every single time they meant well.
But what a person who suffered from loss needs it’s time to process. Mainly the unimaginable amount of pain. Sometimes, what they need is to listen to their story. To understand what they are going through. Give them time, be a listener.
We all have our idea of happiness. But to make someone happy again or help them to get there, you need first to understand their suffering and needs.
There were moments when I felt terrible, bringing the subject up again and again. I wanted to stop, to see how to move on, and so I reached out to online forums and communities to see how people dealt with these situations. It was not surprising to find out I am not the only one in the world who lost someone to suicide.
The shocking part was that so many other people went through the same thing. In some weird, inexplicable way reading through stories of others easied mine pain. Maybe because I learnt I’m not the only one, unfortunately.
Recommend talking to a professional, don’t be afraid
Sometimes it’s just better to get a fresh and expert opinion on how to deal with this type of situation. Also, to get an unbiased view. Meeting one helped me:
- to learn how to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions,
- how to understand the changes in my life, behaviour and mood and be able to adjust,
- how to start living day by day and how to move on from the past.
During the sessions I had, we were looking for the smallest things that can lead to the most significant overall improvement.
It’s not like you’ll get better right away. Again, like any other thing, this takes time. Plus, I was lucky enough; my friend knew someone who could help me.
There were many more experiences on the way that helped me to get where I’m now. Meaning, be able to laugh, enjoy the time with my friends and family and don’t feel guilty about it. Yeah, that is also a feeling those who were left behind have to deal with.
The most important thing to remember is that even a small gesture can make a big difference in your friend’s life, as long as you take action.