Friendships can feel tenuous at the best of times. Someone gets a job and moves within a month. Someone starts a dating relationship and disappears into the ether. When things change and friendships shift, it can be challenging to talk about that kind of loss. But if we don’t do the work of feeling our feelings and moving through the grief, it can negatively affect how willing we are to invest in our friendships moving forward.
I’ll share a few practices I’ve found helpful for grieving losses.
Write them a letter, but don’t send it.
It can be helpful to express your unfiltered thoughts and feelings in order to move through them. However, not all of those feelings need to be expressed directly to the person in question. It can be helpful to get them all on paper and out of your head. Then you can sort through them, present them to God, and see them more clearly and objectively.
Ask yourself, “What story am I believing in this experience?”
Writing through our thoughts and feelings can also give us insight into the deeper stories we might be projecting onto our friends. Sometimes, the stories match the situation. Other times, we are letting old thought patterns prevent us from seeing the current situation clearly and generously. If, for example, a friend is leaving in order to follow a calling, but you feel they are abandoning you, that’s probably got some roots that are worth exploring.
Establish new rituals you’re excited about.
If you and that friend used to meet for a walk every Friday, give yourself something else to look forward to. Maybe you and another friend can have a picnic in the park on Sunday afternoons. Maybe you can start having themed movie nights or a game night with a couple of friends every Saturday. Maybe you still go for a walk on Friday, but you listen to your favorite podcast instead.
Losing a friendship is hard. In his book, Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill writes, “Being platonically dumped wouldn’t be so bad if people would acknowledge you have the right to be platonically heartbroken” (pg. 12). If you’ve found this to be the case, I’m here to tell you that this feels like a big deal because it is a big deal. I hope you are able to move through this loss and trust the people who care about you.
What do you think? What have you found helpful when dealing with a friend breakup? Leave a comment and let me know!
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