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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    When a Friend Leaves: Tips for Accepting Loss and Moving Forward

    Tears dripped down her face like the water droplets trickling down the window. Her best friend was leaving, and she had no idea how to cope. She knew it was coming, but it didn’t make the finality of it any easier to accept.

    Losing someone is never easy, let alone someone you consider to be your closest friend. It can feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath you and the world is spinning faster than normal. You might feel like you’ve lost an essential part of yourself, and the pain may be unbearable. But there are ways to manage or lessen the difficulty of this time and move forward with your life in a positive way—even through the tears.

    Accept That It’s OK to Be Sad

    The primary obstacle between moving on and getting stuck in sadness is acceptance. For some, accepting that a loved one is leaving is too challenging to bear. They might cling to the past and become resentful of the future. This doesn’t change the truth, but it makes it harder to get through.

    Try to remind yourself that while you are sad, it’s OK to process those emotions and take some time to grieve. Embrace the sadness and give yourself the space to express it. After all, it’s natural to feel hurt when a friend departs. Don’t push it away. Let it be there, acknowledge it, and allow yourself to slowly work through it.

    Pay Attention to Your Emotions

    Sometimes, people can act before they can think thoroughly. An outpouring of emotion can act as a defense against feeling vulnerable. Whether it’s yelling, hitting, or constantly talking about the other person, it can be challenging to recognize when we’re trying to hide our hurt. Instead, try to pause and take a step back when emotions take over. Allow yourself some time and quietness to assess your feelings, rather than immersing yourself in unnecessary distractions that might temporarily ease the pain.

    Watch out for feelings like guilt and regret, especially if it was your decision to break away, even if it was necessary. These can send you into a downward spiral and possibly lead to a more significant setback. Make sure to check whether you’re dwelling on the past too much and if things could have ended differently. We can never guarantee that things will go according to plan, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to go beyond the here and now.

    Look for Fresh Connections

    It’s natural to feel scared to lose connection with someone who has been in our lives for so long, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of getting stuck in the “what ifs” and “could haves,” try to use this as an opportunity to look for new relationships and build fresh connections. Think about the kind of people you’d like to connect with and the activities you want to pursue that could bring you closer to them. For instance, get involved in different hobby groups and make new friends.

    Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone—you never know what opportunities might arise. There’s always something new to learn, and don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You might even realize that the path ahead is much brighter than you think—all it took was a push and a willingness to explore your surroundings.

    Understand the Power of Memories

    Some won’t end up until we remember them—so try to take moments to recall the good times. Even if these have been mixed with challenges or difficult times, focus on the positive ones. Besides, good memories can open up a deeper level of appreciation for what once was. They can also remind us that despite changes, the bond with our friend still remains.

    If reminiscing is something that aids you, don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to think back on old times. Write down your favorite moments with that particular friend and get creative with it. It could be anything from minor everyday events to big celebrations; it all counts. Nurturing those happy moments can be a great source of inspiration, powering through the present and inspiring you to pursue future connections.

    Don’t Put Unnecessary Pressure on Yourself

    In moments of loss, especially with a departing best friend, stress can take over. The feeling of watching a loved one go can cause us to become wrapped up in unrealistic expectations, both of us and our situation. Try instead to focus on your needs and the current reality. People progress at different paces, and there’s no need to rush.

    Also, don’t forget to allocate time for yourself. One of the most effective ways of managing stress and supporting the entire healing process is by regular self-care. Spend a day on your own, catching up with Netflix shows or going for a walk in the park. Anything that relaxes and refreshes your spirit is worth looking into. These steps will be fundamental in reducing any pressure you may be putting on yourself and helping you to heal quicker.

    There isn’t an easy answer or quick-fix formula when facing a friend’s departure. But, it is possible to take gradual and manageable steps forward, taking into account the unique situation and scenario. It doesn’t mean leaving behind the memories, nor does it mean turning away from the pain. It does, however, require acknowledging the turbulence of such moments and giving ourselves the patience and respect to navigate the road ahead.

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