03 Feb Coping with Friendship Break Ups
I recently read an interesting article that explored friendship break ups and the silent unrecognized pain and even grief that may occur as a result of this lack of recognition; read article here. In addition to highlighting the emotional impact, the author noted that someone experiencing the end of a friendship may be coping with societal and cultural messages that do not acknowledge, validate or even discuss the hurt and grief of a friendship ending. This lack of validation can impact a person’s belief of what they “should” feel or “should” need in terms of support which may foster a “suffer in silence” environment further alienating the grieving individual. While the article did delve into the differences and similarities of break ups in both intimate relationships and friendships, I found myself hoping the article would provide the reader with helpful ways to cope with or support oneself through this type of loss.
Regardless if we know why a friendship ends or if someone virtually disappears from our life – referred to as ghosting in the aforementioned article, the pain of losing a person and friendship is palpable and can impact various aspects of our day to day life. If we are experiencing the grief and pain of the end of a friendship, here are some tips to help us adjust and cope in our life without that friend.
1. Acknowledge that this is a Real Loss.
Investing time and emotion into someone comes with hopes and dreams for an unknown tomorrow. When a friendship ends so do the unnamed plans and the future that we thought that person would be a part of. Allow yourself to feel the pain of the loss through the recognition that it is the end of something that held meaning for you.
2. Be Realistic about what Energy you have and Use.
When we are grieving our physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual self is doing a lot of work processing the grief while we continue in our day to day. It is not uncommon or unexpected that you may have less energy then you are accustomed to. It may be helpful to put boundaries around how much you do or what more you take on; at least until you feel that energy returning.
3. Beware of the Negative Coloured Glasses.
It can be easy when we feel rejected to internalize that message and attach it to everything we see or do. Messages such as “I never keep friends” or “I am always getting hurt by people” are over-generalizations and at their core untrue. When a friendship ends it has as much to do with the other person as it has to do with us. While it is important to be accountable to yourself in what you may do differently in the next friendship it is not helpful to badger yourself with negative criticism and hurtful inner monologues. Which leads to the next point:
4. Practice Self Compassion.
If the messages you tell yourself are riddled with negativity and self-criticism then your ability to cope with the loss and begin to heal will also be hindered. Think of your inner monologue, would you say these same things to someone you care about? If the answer is no, then why is it okay to say it to yourself? Give yourself hopeful, loving messages which reinforce that you will be okay and you will heal – because you will.
5. Find Your Support System.
Look for the people in your life that care about you and know how to provide you with care and nurturing. Let them know what has happened and how you are feeling and be open to their love and support. Sometimes our support system is just as impacted as we are by grief or maybe that friendship was our support system, it may be helpful to consider counselling where an unbiased confidential environment can allow you to explore the grief while investing in strategies that lead to healing.
Your Grief Specialist Melissa