How to cope with the loss of a friendship
When we talk about relationships ending, we rarely mention friendships, but losing a friendship can be really difficult. Nia, 22, shares her tips for coping.
We hear about heartbreak all the time, yet the pain of losing a friend tends not to be spoken about in the same way. However, there is something different and tragic about the loss of a friendship that leaves us in a way no other break up can.
Our friends see our whole self. They see the silliness, the secrets, the highs, and the lows. They offer pillars of support that we do not realise are there until they are gone. A friendship is a mutual relationship of trust and support that is super important for our health and happiness. And while some friendships come to a natural ending, others are much harder to move on from.
The painful reality of not being able to salvage a relationship that once meant so much, and having to sit with the sadness, is not easy. It’s so easy to presume that those we surround ourselves with will be in our life forever. Yet it is really common for people to outgrow each other, to be led on different paths and for the relationship to dissolve. The tendency to want to hold onto people and friendships is so common and normal. However, I am a firm believer that people enter into your life for a reason, and sometimes these people aren’t meant to be in your life forever. This does not take away from the times you spent with each other and the memories you made.
Over the years of hurting and healing, I have unfortunately learnt that there is no magic cure for dealing with the loss of a friendship. You can’t ambush a heart into healing or speeding up the process, but the days get less painful and in my experience you will come through the other side. Someone else will take up the space that your previous friendship held in an equally special way. Here are a few things I have learnt along the way that have helped me with losing friends.
- Allow yourself the memories. While you might lose a friend for whatever reason, you won’t forget them. The time you spent together was real and important to you then and more than likely still important. Cherish those moments. Be grateful and thankful for the opportunities that you got to have together.
- Remember that some friendships are not meant to last forever. Some people enter into our life to teach us a lesson, to get us through a certain period of time. Of course, when something was good why would we want to let go of it? Because maybe it was not meant to last forever. Perhaps that was why it was so special.
- Take time for yourself. Don’t try and replace them. Learn what it was that you valued in that friendship. Figure out what it is that you feel like you are missing without them. This will help you to look for it in future. Don’t beat yourself up or blame yourself for things not working out. It is common for friendships to come to an end. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
- Find your support elsewhere. It is important to remember that you don’t need to be alone in this. Just because that person is no longer there for you, it doesn’t mean you need to fend for yourself. Someone else can meet those needs in an equally important way. You don’t need to tackle this on your own. Ask for help. Reach out. You’re important and cared about.
- Don’t wait for an apology. If the friendship ended in a way that left you feeling resentful, as hard as it is, try to let it go and find forgiveness for that person. You will be harming yourself more than that person by holding onto feelings of anger. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair, and this is a difficult reality to grapple with, but by finding forgiveness you will help yourself move forward.
We can’t choose our family, but our friends become the family we choose. Losing friends for whatever reason is hard and painful. Unfortunately, it is a normal part of life. Friendships ebb and flow. Some friends leave your life - sometimes temporarily, other times for good. Cherish those friends who are currently around you, hold onto the memories you’ve made and trust the process. Friendship loss stings but it 100% gets better.
Author: Nia, 22
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help pages.