What It's Like to Lose Your Best Friend and Learning to Cope

Losing my best friend is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. Even now, some days are full of hope, and some days the grief hits me like a ton of bricks and I just have to embrace it. It’s an ongoing journey that I continue to learn from every day. Whether you’re at the same point as me or much further along, hopefully what my personal journey has taught me can help you in yours.

Take it one day/one step at a time. The first thing I did was call my dad to ask “what do I do?” because I felt completely helpless. He gave me advice that I still take to heart: right now, don’t think about the past or the future. Focus on right now, focus on what you’re eating for dinner, then focus on putting on pajamas, then focus on brushing your teeth, then before you know it you’ve made it through another day. When your world changes in the blink of an eye it feels impossible to move forward with anything. In moments where everything is hard, the easiest thing to do is focus on individual things.

Listen to music without lyrics or listen to the same song on repeat. I listened to “Not Today” by Imagine Dragons on repeat. And when I got tired of that I listened to movie soundtracks. I couldn’t do silence because I hated getting lost in my thoughts, I couldn’t do the radio because every song was too happy or too sad, and I couldn’t do Spotify because every playlist was too linked to a memory. To this day there are still songs that are really difficult to listen to, but it has always helped me to listen to classical music or listen to sports podcasts when regular music becomes too much.

Let yourself miss them. For a long time, every single time he popped into my head I would immediately push the thoughts away because they hurt too much. It’s incredibly frustrating when grief gets in the way of work or school or sleep. It’s tempting to just bottle up your emotions but in my experience it just builds and makes you feel worse. Instead, let the memories flood your thoughts. A lot of the times they restore your happiness and hope, even temporarily. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could go back in time because I miss him so much. Sometimes it’s accompanied with a lot of regret, but I know that holding onto good memories is part of healing.

Take a break from social media. Facebook and Instagram were very toxic for me. I kept checking for status updates or messages I knew wouldn’t be there and it just made me sad. On top of that I was tormented by the ridiculous thought, “What if I post something and people think I don’t miss him?” Or “What if people are stalking my Facebook to find out what happened?” It all made me angry and sad. If you can eliminate an unnecessary stressor in your life, you should. Some people use social media as an outlet to post quotes and memories, for example, but for me it wasn’t the healthiest way to cope, so just be wary of that.

Surround yourself with people you love. Alone time is important, but too much can easily put you in a dark place. At one point I made the mistake of ghosting everybody in my life except my mom. All this did was make me feel really lonely, and really guilty about pushing away kind people who were reaching out. I never realized how much the physical presence of others helped until a friend went out of her way to see me in person. Even if it’s just to sit in bed with you while you cry, it makes a big difference. It might seem weird, but I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to just be in someone’s company even if you’re both silent for several hours.

Give yourself time as much time as you need to heal. This semester I was hit with a wave of depression over this loss and I asked my therapist in frustration, “Shouldn't I be over this if it has been so long? Why did my depression come back? Why can’t it just end?” The truth is that time does heal all wounds, but it will always leave a scar. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you need to be patient with yourself.

I know that this is all easier said than done, and even I myself have days where it’s hard to follow my own advice. When you feel like you can’t do it all on your own, know that there are more people than you think who will love and support you in whatever way you need.

 

NOTE: what I’ve written here comes from my personal experience and I am not a licensed professional. If you are struggling with any form of grief or depression, please refer to the counseling services available to you. For Mount Holyoke’s resources, go here.

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