People leave our lives all the time. There are so many reason why they leave, and these losses do have an impact on us, whether or not people pass away, moved away or a relationship brakes down.
As we get older the losses seem to build up rather quickly, and many find it harder and harder to handle. As I write this, 2 people that were part of my life for the past 30 years have passed away, and another is rapidly losing his battle with cancer. One of my closest cousins has just had a major disagreement with her sister (also my cousin), so I’m being pressured to take a side or lose them both, not just one. And to top it all off, one of my dearest friends is moving away to be near her grandchildren. The losses this month are verging on overwhelming. How will I handle it all? And how will I handle what is to come next? It seems that each month is becoming more and more difficult with all the losses I’ve been experiencing.
Being an optimist and a believer in our inner strength, I’ve been working on putting all the loses into perspective. I’ve been discussing this with many friends, family and acquaintances. I’m also discussing this with others who are experiencing similar losses, and also looking for answers.
Through my discussions and analysis, I’ve found that there are 5 things we can do to help deal with losing family and friends.
1 – Acknowledge the loss– This is overwhelmingly the most popular advice I’ve received, and I also agree. The sooner we accept the loss, the easier it is to begin the healing process. It is also important to admit that it was hard. Possibly the end dragged on for weeks, or maybe it was sudden. The loss may have been the result of a fight or a move. Regardless of the situation, it happened and there is no reversal. It will impact your life. It will be hard to handle the gap in friends/family. Some things may never be the same, but it happened. Acknowledging the loss, even if it is painful, is a good first step in the healing process.
2 – Accept the difficult times– Understanding that there are going to be difficult times ahead allows us to progress. If we fight this, it will prolong the pain and may make it harder on us. For some, change is always a challenge. However, the sooner we accept that difficult times are ahead, we are better able to find ways to get through it. The loss leaves a gap in our lives and we need to work at filling this gap. By accepting that this may be difficult, we are allowing ourselves to reach out for the support of others and for finding new people to bring into our lives. For example, if the loss was your walking buddy, or the go-to person for health advice, you need to find others for these needs.
3 – Give yourself permission to move forward– You need to be able to get on with your life without guilt. Giving yourself permission to engage in new activities, and even to drop the old ones, does not detach you from the loss. You may feel a sense of detachment, which is natural. As we get older this feeling crops up all the time. We need to value the old, but also not be tied to the past and to people that are no longer with us. Others definitely improve our lives but when they are gone, we need to continue on, and find others that will also make a difference in our lives. Feeling guilty about being attracted to a new person, or maybe a new interest, is not healthy. By giving ourselves permission to move forward, we are opening the door to new people, new interests and new experiences. This is not something to feel guilty about.
4 – Focus on the positive– Keep your focus on the good that the person brought to your life, to fight the feelings of loss and detachment. Remember all the ways they improved your life. Think about how they introduced you to new ideas, new interests and/or new experiences. Cherish the relationship and feel blessed that they were in your life.
5 – Be optimistic about the future– Look for ways to celebrate and grow from the relationship. Don’t look back, but look forward with a positive expectation. Our attitude plays a big role in how we experience life, almost like a self-fulfilling prophesy. We have a much better chance at successfully recovering from a loss, if we believe it.
We grow older, we will continue to experience loss. To improve the quality of our emotional life, we really need to prepare ourselves to handle loss in stride. While we can’t fight or ignore the inevitable; we can find ways to deal with it. By considering the 5 ways to deal with losing friends, we can better roll with the punches of life, and improve our lives at the same time.