September 27, 2021
Friend, I’ve always considered myself to be an extrovert … that is until I hit my mid-30s. At any rate, anyone who’s known me over the years would describe me as an outgoing person. As part of that, I enjoyed spending time with friends socializing, hosting parties, and traveling to various parts of the world. Finally, in college, even though I attended school hours away from my hometown, I quickly made friends and assimilated.
Friendships came fairly easy to me and shaped my view of intimate connections. I found mine to be fun, vulnerable, and mostly drama-free.
So you can imagine how startling it was for me to confront the reality that some of my closest friends weren’t able to hold my grief following my mom’s death in 2012. Frankly, it wasn’t something I’d even considered.
Around the time of her death, as is common for many grieving hearts, many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances made themselves known. They attended my mom’s memorial service, left text and voice messages for me, and shared thoughtful gifts.
However, at the six-month mark, the “buzz” around my mom‘s death, as well as the support I needed at that time, had diminished.
Given that I was new to the whole ‘grief thing,’ I wasn’t equipped to even know what to ask for. Day by day, the ebbs and flows of grief thrust me into messy and unfamiliar places. I didn’t know what I needed. In addition, I wasn’t sure how to ask for help. And without even realizing it, I guess I assumed that others would readily know how to best support me as a grieving person. Ever been there?
Nearly 9 years into my grief journey, I’ve learned a few things about friendships. Before sharing these, however, let me speak from the heart. What I’m about to share isn’t a condemnation of my dear family and friends. It’s also not a statement of most of my interactions surrounding grief. It’s simply a reflection on discoveries I’ve made about some relationships.
Here are a few things you can consider.
So here’s the bottom line …
It’s possible that your friendships will change after experiencing loss. It’s also possible that you’ll gain new friendships as you walk through the grief journey. Either way, focus on what you need and take steps to express those needs with others. The consequence of not doing so is social isolation, emotion overwhelm, negative thought patterns, and so much more. And as a grieving heart, I know you have much to contend with already.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think. Take a moment to leave a comment below.
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