Anytime that we experience a loss it inevitably causes lingering pain, but the loss of a friendship can be particularly hard. This is a person who has been a significant part of your life and, like losing a family member, you can’t imagine your life without them. Whether your friend has passed away or you no longer talk it is normal to be feeling a loss and experiencing grief.
Why Is It So Hard?
A loss of a friendship can sometimes feel more painful than a breakup with a significant other. We need to have friends in our lives, even from a young age we use friendships to grow and to learn, and this continues into adulthood too where friendships become even more important to us.
Some friendships come and go leaving no ill feeling behind, but others can be harder to let go of. This person may have had more of an effect on our lives than we realised, may have taught us more than we knew and supported us through some difficult times. When that rock is then gone, we feel lost and alone.
Your Feelings Are Valid
It is important to remember that however you are feeling it is completely acceptable and validated. The end of a friendship, like the end of a relationship, can cause a whirlwind of emotions such as anger, upset and hurt. You might find yourself trying to think about what went wrong and how you could have changed things. Coming to terms with your emotions is the first step to healing. It is OK to mourn the loss of a friendship like the loss of a loved one.
If your friend mistreated you, betrayed you or was dishonest then you may feel that you are owed an apology. Don’t wait around for an “I’m sorry” as it is more than likely not going to come. Waiting for the apology will only delay the ending of the friendship and the moving on. If the apology never comes you will feel even more hurt than you did before. If you can, then be the bigger person and start the healing process to move on – with an apology or without.
Write A Goodbye Letter
This may seem like an odd coping mechanism but sometimes writing down your feelings can be easier than talking. Find some time to be by yourself and write a letter to your friend. This can say and explain all the things that you were not able to say in person. Express your feelings about how the friendship ended and what you feel led up to the ending. The best part is that in this situation you can be completely honest as your friend will not read the letter. Once you have written everything you feel you need to, then tear up, burn or destroy the letter and this will symbolise your acceptance of the end of the friendship.
Who Is To Blame?
At the end of the friendship it is easier to look for someone to blame. Try to avoid this and look at both sides of the situation and how both people may have played a part in the breakdown of the friendship. This is hard to do as you will search for the reasons and situations where your friend acted in the wrong. Keeping hold of anger or blame will only make you feel trapped and will prevent you from moving on.
After the friendship has ended and you have come to terms with this, you should try to remove that person from your life as best as you can. This doesn’t mean that you have to be rude if you see them, but you don’t need to go out of your way to talk to them. Keeping the communication open will only lead to more pain, and keeps a window open where you may feel tempted to lash out. Delete the person from your phone and social media accounts – this can be very useful to be able to move on.
Know That You’re Better Off
While losing a friend and friendship can be painful, think about the possibility that you might be better off. Especially if your friendship ended due to dishonesty or negativity then you are usually better off without that person in your life. Separating yourself from the negativity can benefit you in the long run.
What Have You Learnt
It is easy to look at this situation as a negative impact on your life but instead, look at it as a learning situation. Spend some time reflecting on what you have learnt from the ending of this friendship, even what you could do to avoid the situation again in the future. Grow and become a better person from your hurt and pain. It is possible to move on from a friendship loss without continuing to carry the negative feelings. Take some time to grieve the friendship but also, celebrate a new start.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are Cognitive Behavioural Therapists or Psychologists, offering evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.