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Processing the Pain When a Friend Leaves

Her phone calls seemed to get farther and farther apart.  She seemed distant and aloof and I started to wonder what was going on.  I considered her to be my closest friend.  We roomed together for years in a spacious, sunny apartment.  We had been through a lot together and had supported each other through hard times.  We also laughed a lot, and had code sentences that only we knew what they meant; private jokes built over years of closeness.  I wondered why she wouldn’t get back to me. 

I continued to reach out to her and tried to schedule a trip to go out to see her.  I thought she was mad at me because I hadn’t traveled back to see her.  Not able to secure a time for me to go out there, I kept postponing my trip.  Finally, the phone rang and I was home.  I was so excited to talk to her that I ran to the phone.  The call went to voicemail as I just missed answering on time. 

She said something about how she hadn’t been honest with me about how she felt about me for the last several months.  She expressed anger and hostility toward me.  She was clearly angry about something, but  I couldn’t remember that there had been anything specific that I had done wrong.  I had tried to be there for her through a difficult time she was enduring.  

My mind spun from the new information and I attempted to call her back.  Not getting through, I reached out by email and we began an exchange of emails that made it clear to me that the relationship was over.  I was crushed.  I cared about her like the sister I never had and the tears started to flow as if I was grieving a death.  After a week of tearfulness, I started to heal from the hurt.

With the friendship suddenly over, the question now had to do with how I was going to cope with my grief.  I could choose to be hurt and angry toward her, or I could choose to forgive her.  I chose to work on forgiveness.  One of the main ways I worked on forgiveness was to pray for her.  I prayed for her wellbeing and for her family.  I prayed that God would guide her and give her peace. It took a while, but as I prayed, I felt the anguish dissipate.  I felt my heart grow softer toward her, and after some time, I found the freedom to let go of the friendship without resentment.  

Friends are an important part of our lives, and they make our life richer.  It’s a blessing to have a friend, especially a close friend.  Gaining close friends, however, means the potential for pain and loss if the friendship ends.  Sometimes friendships fade slowly over time, and sometimes they end abruptly.   

I have learned not to force a friendship to last when it isn’t working anymore.  This wasn’t the first time I had suffered the loss of a close friend. Learning that some friends are in our lives just for a time and that some friendships may end before we are ready, has been an important lesson.  

When a friend leaves, it is easy to feel hurt and upset.  Feelings of confusion and emotional pain are common.  Sometimes soul searching needs to occur to determine what part you may have played in the loss.  Sometimes, there is nothing you have done wrong, or could have done to save the friendship.  People change, you change, and life brings new challenges to work through.  

In the end, though, you have to move forward. Grieve hard, and then move ahead looking for new possibilities. When a friendship ends, recognize that there is potential for that time and space to be used to develop a new friend or to deepen other existing friendships.  Choose to look around and see what other opportunities exist, and to be grateful for what lies ahead.  Each time a friendship ends there may be new friendships that are formed and new possibilities that lie ahead.  

For whatever reason the friendship you cherished ended, whether it be distance or change in priorities, miscommunication, or hurtful things said or done, you need to remember that you are worth knowing and that you can sustain other friendships.  Every time I tried to chase down a friend that was leaving, I failed to recognize the other people in my life that were interested in being around me. I turned around and saw opportunities to make new friends and to use my time to recognize other opportunities that I was ignoring.  

It’s important to realize that possibly you have hurt someone in your life that wanted to be a close friend to you, but you were disinterested. Having a humble attitude to realize that possibly we are guilty of the same offence helps us to move forward and to heal the wounds left from a lost friendship.  It is a significant loss to lose a cherished friend, trust me, I know!  I have lost more than one cherished friend. 

It is good to know that there is one friend that will never leave us: 

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15

"God has said, “Never will I leave you;  never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

In summary:

  1. Grieve the loss
  2. Soul search
  3. Forgive and pray for your friend
  4. Remember that you are worth knowing
  5. Look for new opportunities
by Gretchen Flores