One of the most painful things that any person can go through in life is losing people they once cared about. People that are still here on earth but for whatever reason have drifted away – either gradually over time, or suddenly through a disagreement or difference of opinion.
I’ve written in the past about toxic people in your lives, but what about the friend who you have shared every moment with since childhood. The friend who got their license the same year you did. The friend who graduated with you and bought matching cars together because you were best friends, for life. What about the friend who has gone through numberous breakups, makeups … engagement, wedding and birth of your children. Some of the emotions that follow these fall outs can be as intense as losing a loved one.
The loss of a dear friend is one of the most painful things that anyone can encounter – unknown
Some friends grow apart because their lives become filled with other interests or move apart. The most painful broken relationship is the one that separates as a result of unresolved conflict.
Whatever the reason, friendships come and go in our lives. When the special friendships you thought would last a lifetime are broken or lost, the wounds may require loving care in order to heal.
Here are a few things you can do to see if you are still able to grow spiritually through the ins and outs of friendships over the years;
1. Grieve for the lost friendship. Grieving a lost relationship may take weeks, months or even years. A lot depends on how the friendship ends.
- Admit the relationship has ended. Acceptance is the all-important positive side to rebuilding. You do not have to take on a load of guilt in order to accept that the relationship is over. Stay out of the “if only” game. The pain is intense as you realize the relationship has ended.
- Suffer and grow. The way past the pain is to go all the way through it. The pain you are feeling is real. It hurts. Allow yourself to feel the pain. Use it as motivation to grow and make the crisis into an opportunity. The pain can be an excuse to remain bitter, angry, unhappy, or it can help you grow.
2. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. As you go through this painful process, check yourself so as to avoid these unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- Withdrawing – Sometimes hurting people hide so others will not suspect their fear.
- Becoming a busy-aholic – Hiding behind busyness may delay the healing process and can also be very tiring.
- Fearing aloneness – Being alone can provide time for introspection, reflection, growth and development of the inner self. Emptiness can be replaced by inner fullness and strength. There is a healthy balance in spending time with others and being alone.
3. Let go
Close friendships require an interest in other people, empathy, loyalty and commitment. They also require the letting go of idealistic expectations and unrealistic demands. In letting go, we grow. Sometimes this may even require letting go of the friendship entirely.
- Forgive. Forgiveness is an act of the will on the part of the offended person releasing the perpetrator even though you do not condone what they have done. Trust, however, needs to be earned. This is particularly important in dysfunctional relationships. If you are seeking inner freedom, forgiveness is not an option — you simply must. Forgiveness involves realizing how much the Lord has forgiven. It enables you to forgive and see others’ failures through the eyes of mercy. Good friends are good forgivers.
- Deal with your emotions. Acknowledge the feelings of love, anger, bitterness, feelings of vindictiveness and look at them realistically. Invest emotionally in your own personal growth instead of investing in the dead relationship.
4. Risk loving again. Intimacy is risky, no doubt about it. Reaching out may result in rejection. Then why do it and get hurt? Why not play it safe? The cost is too high to not ever take the risk — there are friends in your future who will be worth the risk and you may never know them if you don’t try again.
- Make yourself vulnerable. It is easy to fear rejection. If someone wants to share, but seems hesitant, lead the way by opening up first. It is a precious gift to your friends when they personally discover that you cherish confidentiality and hold their secrets close to your heart. Remember, vulnerability hastens bonding.
- Realize the risk is worthwhile. As you reflect on the friends of your life, realize some were in your life for only a season. Each of your friends has woven into your being some of the very fiber of who you have become. Realize you may never know why some relationships end: Reflect on the positive blessings and the impact a friendship made on your life during the happy times. If the friendship was filled with betrayal and pain, reflect on the growth that took place in your own life as you learned to deal with this.
Realize that going through a broken relationship leaves you with a choice — to become bitter or better. Bitterness will only destroy you and never the person with whom you are angry. Which one will you choose?
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. Buddha