We empathize with how the death of a loved one can be a difficult experience.
They may be gone, but they are far from forgotten. It’s an experience nobody expects yet leaves scars in our hearts that last a lifetime.
In our own way, Algordanza wishes to help you cope with grief and loss. A local certified Psychotherapist stands with us in this endeavor and brings you the following articles to help you in times of grieving:
Losing a Friend
“Without friends, no one would choose to live.”
Friendship is defined as a voluntary relationships that is shaped by its members. Unlike family bonds, which you are born into and bound to by blood, friendship bonds are built upon mutual choice, shared interests, and affection. Friendships require a certain amount of commitment from its members to establish and maintain the bond. These bonds go on to play a vital and continuing role in our lifetime by affecting many aspects of our being.
Friendships provide a wide array of benefits and enrichment to our lives. Our friends are a source of emotional support, entertainment, and companionship that help to buffer against the effects of stress. Friends can also be a source of information, learning, motivation, and inspiration when we are lacking. Our trusted friends can provide us with feedback that can be useful in our self-reflection and personal development. Friendships also provide us with a sense of belonging, connectedness, and closeness with others that contributes significantly to our happiness and overall wellbeing.
The benefits of friendships are evident throughout the lifespan. In youth, our friends have a strong influence on our choices and how we experience the world around us. In our prime, we experience the world with our friends through shared adventures and tribulations. In old age, our friends become our confidantes with whom we feel most comfortable sharing our deepest thoughts and fears during our final days on Earth.
Our friends are such an integral part of life. What then, when we lose one of them?
Unfortunately, like parents, siblings, and spouses, friends die too. However, unlike in the loss of a parent, sibling, or spouse, the support given to individuals who have lost a friend is often overlooked. When a friend dies, it is their family members whom all the support is focused on. Surviving friends are often expected to support the grieving family, but are rarely supported in return.
It is, then, even more important to know how to take care of yourself to facilitate your own grieving process.
When a friend passes, it is unfair to expect support from the grieving family. However, this is a time when all the benefits of friendship, mentioned earlier, can come into play. Surviving friends can rally to provide support for each other.
It is vital that the bereaved have sufficient opportunities to express their grief, to share their thoughts, and confide their feelings. This includes the friends of the deceased. It is, therefore, important to tap on your surviving friendships to help you in your grieving process.
It is common for people who have lost someone to report still being able to feel the presence of the deceased. This is not to be confused with hallucinations, which are sensory experiences that appear real but are created by the mind. Hallucinations can be experienced in sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, and they seem real to the individual. The presence felt, on the other hand, occurs on a more spiritual level and the individual experiencing it is aware that it is not the actual physical presence of the deceased. Unlike hallucinations, which tend to bring distress to the individual, the sensing of such a presence tends to be warm, reassuring, and comforting. This is a very human experience and should not be cast aside, but rather, utilised in the healing process.
Continuing bonds refers to the maintenance of a healthy connection with the values, beliefs, and memories of the deceased. Establishing the connection can be done through direct communication and feeling the presence of the deceased. This is most commonly done at the places of significance such as the grave site or a place of special importance. People often report talking or sharing information with the deceased at these sites. Again, there is no illusion that they are actually talking to the deceased. Rather, it is a cathartic process that provides an opportunity for psychological relief through the expression of words or thoughts.
Continuing bonds can also be maintained by adopting certain behaviours, beliefs, passions, or actions of the deceased. For example, if the deceased friend loved animals, it can be good for the surviving friend to contribute to this cause in some way. This can range from a small donation for an animal shelter to volunteering or even adopting a pet. Another alternative is to engage in activities that honour the deceased friend in some way. This can be doing an activity that you always talked about doing, going somewhere you both always wanted to go to, or a place you both have gone to where you made meaningful memories.
Continuing bonds can also be maintained through memories. This can be achieved through activities such as sharing stories, going through photographs, or creating memorials that reflect the character, values, or beliefs of the deceased.
Many who experience the death of a friend described the loss as an orienting force in their lives and their grieving as a reflective process that led to personal modifications in their values and positive growth. Although the death of a friend can be tragically devastating, the experience can offer the bereaved an opportunity for self-reflection, strengthening bonds between the survivors, and a re-ordering of priorities in life.