What happens when your best friend dies?
Just like any other loss, the loss of your best friend is one that demands to be felt.
You have to hold space for it, allow yourself to experience it, and move through the grief in the ways that feel right to you.
Though all of that is the same across different types of losses, we have to recognize that there are unique challenges to grieving your best friend. Understanding what those challenges are is the first step toward healing.
It Can Feel Like Losing Part Of You, Too
Losing a best friend is literally life-changing in the sense that it changes our day-to-day lives. When we’re in such a close relationship with someone, we inevitably develop traditions and routines that keep our friendships going.
Maybe you watch the same show together, go to the gym in the morning, talk on the phone on Tuesdays, or go on one big vacation together every year.
There are so many ways we cement our friendships in our day-to-day lives; losing your best friend can disrupt those comfortable patterns and make you feel like you’ve lost a part of who you are.
This might be a scary thought, but you will get through it in time; you may find those pieces of yourself right where you left them while you honor your friend’s memory in new ways through your old traditions.
It Isn’t Always Recognized As The Loss That It Is
For two reasons, you may not get the responses and support you’d expect when you lose someone close to you, which can hurt.
First, this is because society generally considers certain relationships “more important” than others. Although “found” or “chosen family” are just as close to your heart and central to your life as a biological and legal family, they’re not always treated that way by those outside your relationship.
Secondly, if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with your best friend’s family, it may be difficult for them to understand and accept how close you were and how much you feel this loss, too.
For both of these reasons, it can be important to look for other ways of receiving support. It may be helpful to join a best-friend-specific bereavement group and reach out to any mutual friends who understand and are mourning, too.
It Makes You Think About Your Own Mortality
When your best friend dies, it makes you think about your own death.
Of course, these thoughts can surface whenever someone you know dies, but it’s an even more intense reminder of your own mortality when someone who is probably quite a lot like you dies.
Whether you’re the same age, have similar lifestyles, enjoy the same activities, or hang with the same crowd in the same location, the “sameness” that made your friendship so strong can make these feelings about your own death strong, too.
These intense thoughts and feelings don’t have to be scary. Be prepared for them to come up. When they do, acknowledge them and remember that this is a normal reaction, and you will get through it.
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