The end of a friendship, especially a close one that has lasted years and weathered emotional storms, can be as devastating as a divorce. Whether your friends dumped you all of a sudden or moved on slowly, you are likely experiencing much of the emotion and pain usually connected to a breakup, and you will need to take similar steps to heal a heart broken by a friend as you would at the end of a romance.
Mourn Your Loss
You shared everything with your friends and may have believed that your friendship would last the rest of your lives -- and now you've experienced a major loss. Allow yourself to feel your pain, or it will only remain unresolved, writes Therese Borchard, the author of books on emotional and psychological recovery, in her article "8 Steps to Closure When a Friendship Ends," on PsychCentral. Borchard even encourages you to bring those painful memories to the surface by visiting shared haunts and looking at old photos.
Celebrate Good Memories
You may be in danger of blocking out good memories if you try to erase old friends from your mind completely, psychotherapist Roseann Adams tells Jen Weigel in the Chicago Tribune "Grieving the Loss of Your BFF." Take time to think of the special traditions you and your friends shared, or when you helped one another through life's difficulties. When your pain has subsided, these positive thoughts will be lasting mementoes of your past together, even though you are now apart.
You may have questions about what went wrong with your friends for which you will never have an answer -- you don't know and they aren't telling. Allow yourself the possibility that your friends' decisions alone led to the unraveling of your bond, and don't push it any further, advises psychiatrist Irene Levine in "How to Cope With the Loss of a Friendship" on the Huffington Post. Work on the solid friendships you have left and cultivate new ones -- this may be your opportunity to explore a wider range of friends and interests.
Seek Emotional Support
The grief of losing close friends can feel like an abyss, and you should seek support if you feel like you're falling in. Therapy may work wonders for you if you're open to the idea, Adams suggests. But you can also turn to the trusted friends who are still on your team, to supportive family members and to trusted authority figures like teachers -- odds are, they have all been there before. Talking through your pain with someone else has the side benefit of reminding you how many wonderful, caring people are still in your life.
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