Of course it goes without saying that good friends can make a really big difference in your life after loss. However, in order to get the support you need (and avoid unnecessary frustration) you should take a minute to get clear on who the key players are on your support team, the positions they each play and where the vacancies are.
This allows you to curb your expectations, protect your heart and leverage all the good stuff where it lies.
Each friend serves a really different role in our lives. When life is going well we may not even notice these distinct roles but during the hard times these differences become enormous and they are important for us to pay attention to. Each friend brings something unique and valuable to our table. However, if we are not clear on our own needs and expectations, we can end up with a lot of frustration, hurt and disappointment. And you don’t need that kind of drama in your life right now.
So here are the The 5 Friends you need after Loss.
The Activity Buddy
This girl truly doesn’t know what to say about your loss but that doesn’t stop her from talking. In her efforts to be supportive, she sometimes blurts out things that are insensitive, confusing and even just plain weird. But, on the other hand, she’s the one who’s always up for catching a movie or hitting the gym. She’s the one who sends you the text that says, “Hey I’m heading to yoga tonight, wanna come with me?” No, you can’t expect a whole lot from her in terms of wisdom or understanding, but sometimes that nudge off the couch is just the thing you needed. And that nudge should not be undervalued. So appreciate her for what she offers: a valuable opportunity to get out of the house, some distraction and a chance to burn off some stress. Just don’t try to have a heavy conversion with her or expect her to be your shoulder to cry on. That effort will back fire and leave you hurt and angry. Besides, that’s what the next friend is for.
This girl isn’t afraid to see your tears or your laughter. You can really drop your guard around her. She’s witnessed your best and your worst moments, the victorious slam dunks and the arm-flailing face-plants. And each time she’s still there cheering back onto your feet and reminding you that the game ain’t over yet. If you’ve got this chick in your corner, hang onto her with both hands. Unconditional love is priceless, rare and it deserves to be acknowledged. In fact, you may want to send her one of the e-cards I included at the bottom of this page to let her know you appreciate what she brings to your life. This chick is a gem and something to be grateful or, so let her know that.
This is the girl you barely know but who shows up anyways. Maybe she’s an acquaintance from work, your neighbour, or someone from your old gang from college who you haven’t spoke to in years. She heard about what happened to you and she is reaching out to offer you some care and support. Maybe she’s experienced enough heartbreak in her own life to know how much this kind of kindness is worth. Maybe she’s your fairy god mother disguised in lululemon pants. Who knows? The important thing is to say yes to her offers because they are sincere and generous. And when you have to deal with the disappointment that comes when you notice the absence of the friends you expected to be here for you right now but aren’t, it’s nice to know that there are other big-hearted people waiting in the wings to take their spot. So let them.
The Fellow Baby Loss Mama
It is almost impossible to explain what it like to go through this, but with this girl you don’t have to. She gets it because she’s been there. Sure, her story is different than yours in some ways. But you both understand at a gut level the things that can’t be put adequately into words. Bonus: She’s your safe place to rage about your pregnant sister-in-law and your clueless co-workers because she’ll never confuse your grief for general bitchiness or accuse you of being crazy behind your back.
You’ve known this girl since floral prints and jean jackets were hot the first time. You sat beside each other in class and sent each other notes. Like maybe even actual pen and paper notes. That’s how long this girl has been a part of your life. She’s been there for everything. She knows the nicknames of your ex-boyfriends (in fact, she made some of them up to make you feel better when they acted like jerks). She’s the one who spent the entire party in the washroom with you, holding back your hair after you had too much to drink. And she’s the only one who knows how you really got that scar.
So why is she acting so distant right now? Her odd reactions to your grief may be both confusing and infuriating. Your anger is totally justified. You may be even tempted to just write this friend off completely. But don’t. Because at some point, you’re going to miss her and want her back. Yes she is acting like a shockingly horrific right now, and that is unacceptable. You most certainly should not have to deal with that hurt on top of everything else.
So stop fighting with her. Stop chasing her. Stop trying to get her to see the error in her ways. Just keep her on the back burner while you bring your focus back to yourself. You have way more important places to direct your precious energy right now, places that are going to be able to give you some return on your investment, like calling your therapist, trying to muster the motivation to shower, or leaving me a comment below.
So how did your support team measure up? Do you have some vacancies to fill? Good. Now you know what you need you can do what you need to do to take better care of yourself and get yourself the support and kindness you deserve. Do you have some great people to be grateful for? Excellent. Send them a little love with the e-cards below and keep that good stuff flowing.
Did you like this article? If you did I would be so grateful if you shared it with someone who may need it to and tell me what which friend has really been there for you in the comments below.