Grieving the Loss of a Friend

This Thursday, the Turlock community paused to mourn the loss of a home town hero. At a time like this, it feels appropriate to address the grieving process we all endure when losing a friend.

During your lifetime, you acquire many acquaintances through school, work, church, hobbies, and other activities. Some friendships last a lifetime; others last only a brief period of time. Whether a friend fills the role of mentor, secret keeper, advisor, or companion, the feelings you have for that person are feelings of endearment.

What happens when a friend dies? No matter what the circumstances surrounding the death are, the shock can be overwhelming, and you may find yourself thinking, “I can’t believe he/she is gone!”

You realize that the time you have shared with your friend is all you will have. No one can take the place of those you have lost or the confidences you have shared with them. Sometimes you may feel that a part of you has died because no other person can take his or her place. After the shock subsides, the pain of grief occurs. A part of this grief is emotional pain. You may experience emotional numbness, confusion, guilt, helplessness, or anger. These are common reactions. If you try to conceal these feelings, it could possibly make them even stronger at a later time.

Crying is the most common behavioral reaction to grief. Sometimes you might feel as if your emotions are beyond control. Even the smallest sensory trigger can bring a flood of tears. Other behavioral reactions include not being able to concentrate, feeling preoccupied, seeking solitude and even becoming withdrawn from other friends.

Remember to be patient with yourself; there are no shortcuts to grief.

There are many physical reactions to loss as well. It may be difficult to sleep. Your appetite could change; fatigue, increase in blood pressure, and muscular tension can occur. Try to take care of yourself. Acknowledge the cause of your pain and work with your grief. Being able to identify these common reactions to grief lets you know that the feelings you are having are a normal part of the process.

Most of all, take the time to treasure the relationship you had with your friend. Let the memories of your relationship linger. Share funny stories and memories about your friend with others to celebrate their life. Throughout the grief process, it is vital to turn to others for support.

Both CovenantCare Hospice (Turlock) and Community Hospice (Modesto) offer free grief support groups and counseling. These resources are excellent opportunities for everyone grieving the loss of a friend or loved one.