Grieving and Healing From the Loss of a Friend

Understanding the healing journey.

Posted Jun 24, 2017

Mikhail Dudarev/Deposit Photos
Source: Mikhail Dudarev/Deposit Photos

When you have experienced the loss of a good friend it may be hard to put your feelings into words. You may feel a mixture of emotions all at once and it may be difficult to imagine life without your friend. No matter how hard it is right now, you have to find the courage to go on with your life and begin to accept and cope with your loss. 

Grieving is a process, or rather a difficult climb which requires strength, perseverance and endurance. Coping with grief is likened to climbing a challenging mountain. You may not feel equipped to climb your mountain, but all you have to focus on is taking one step at a time.

Each person's journey is different, yet there are similarities in the terrain that each must cross through. Your journey may feel like an uphill battle, but you can make it through this all while honoring the memory of your friend. Be patient the healing journey takes time. The following are some common places people travel as they begin to heal from loss.

Igor Poleshchuk/Deposit Photos
Source: Igor Poleshchuk/Deposit Photos

The Healing Journey

1. The Base — Shock and Denial

After losing a friend, you may experience confusion, disbelief and shock. You may even deny what happened or convince yourself it’s just a horrible nightmare, only you can’t wake up.  Each of these feelings are normal and may take some time to work through. However, if you feel complete detachment you may be experiencing something more than grief. You can't grieve if you detach yourself from feeling anything. Grief is a moving process, albeit sometimes slow moving. Be patient…and if you don’t feel that you are progressing on the journey, get help.

Igor Goncharenko/Deposit Photos
Source: Igor Goncharenko/Deposit Photos

2. The Rough Terrain — Anger

After the shock wears off, you may begin to feel waves of intense emotions, such as fear, guilt, hurt, and sadness. These emotions can feel powerful and overwhelming. In order to deal with the surge of emotions, you may mask them with other emotions like anger. If you find yourself seething mad on your journey — it's okay.

Eventually, you will work through your feelings, but right now your anger is giving you the energy you need to catapult forward toward healing. Being aware of why you are ready to unleash on everything in your path will help you keep your anger in check. For example, if you notice you have a short fuse, then try to avoid things that push your buttons. With time, you will feel more in control of how you're feeling, but right now the feelings are raw and need time to mend.

3. Rough Patches — Trying to Find a Fix

This is a tough part of the journey and it can leave you feeling helpless and stuck. You will have to fight the inner voices that play in your mind asking, "what if” and "if only." These voices serve one purpose: to keep you stuck. When you choose to move forward, be prepared for the voices to grow louder. Don't listen to them they aren't helpful. It’s okay to tell yourself “These are just unhelpful thoughts that are holding me back.” 

Grobler Du Preez/Deposit Photos
Source: Grobler Du Preez/Deposit Photos

4. The Resting Spot — Deep Sadness

Your journey can be exhausting and there may be times that you want to give up. Don't. This is the part of the journey that you acknowledge your loss. It's okay to feel intense sadness, and it’s okay to cry a lot. When you mourn, you are allowing all those pent-up emotions a chance to escape. You don't have to hold onto them — they need to be released. When you are able to fully grieve, you can get some of the weight off your shoulders and find your second wind to continue the journey.

5.  The Summit — Acceptance, but not Forgetting...

It's been a tough journey, but you’ve come a long way. Along the way, you have learned to persevere. Most importantly, you've learned that you are going to be okay. It still hurts, and the memories still play in the background, only now you can think back on those memories and smile. The things you have learned on your journey have helped you grow into a stronger person. One of the most important lessons that can be learned is — life is short and it’s important to treasure those who matter to you most.

Igor Goncharenko/Deposit Photos
Source: Igor Goncharenko/Deposit Photos

Grieving is a process and it can take time to work through a loss. It is common to cycle through many emotions that you thought you had already worked through.  You will not slide backward on your journey (even if it feels like it) you can only go forward. You may hit familiar territory and feel like you took a step back, but your ability to work through it the first time will get you through it again. While there may be times that you feel that you are on this journey solo, you are not alone. Many people like yourself have traveled a similar path; reach out and let people help you. Your mountain of grief may not be an easy one to defeat, but it's certainly not undefeatable.