HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWhen your best friend dies

When your best friend dies

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Friends, like family, are part of our soul, group and are truly kindred spirits. We count on our friends to be on call through good times and bad times, especially when we grieve.

A friend is someone in whom we can completely confide.

We know that he or she has our best interests at heart and will take the time to listen and assist us.

A friend will provide encouragement and guidance when needed.

Friendship therefore is indeed one of life’s most treasured gifts.

Losing a close friend is like losing an arm, and our despair can cut deeper than a sharp knife.

We don’t expect our friends to die, we think they will always be at our side. So when a friend dies, it seems as though our lifeline is gone.

We reflect upon our lives. We dwell in memories of the past.

We begin to wonder about our future without our friend nearby.

The death of a friend may be so unthinkable that we immediately begin to re-evaluate our lives and our own mortality.

Remember that we would have had opportunities to love and serve because of it.

When we lose a close friend we get into a state of shock and it is unbelievable that they are gone.

You would have shared so many experiences together and friends always think that their friendship will always last forever.

When your best friend dies at any age, the experience is very traumatic, it’s something you might never forget.

It tugs at your soul in ways that only can be experienced by those who share your pain.

If the friend had a prolonged life-threatening illness, you may have been there during that time, to help them with good thoughts and deeds.

Time spent reminiscing often helps lighten the burden.

You would have had time to prepare for the soul’s transition and the fact that the person will no longer be there for you.

You may be angry at them for “leaving” you but this is normal human behaviour as we are self-centred when it comes to pain and emotions.

We create words for the important experiences of life and relationships.

A person who has lost both parents can say, “I am an orphan.” A man who has lost a wife can say, “I am a widow.”

A person who has lost a friend, however, has no word to describe the relational loss.

Grief for a friend is not new.

The ancients understood it well, perhaps better than ourselves because they took friendship seriously.

Around the fires, early humans mourned for friends lost to accidents and illness.

On blood- soaked battlefields, to this day, soldiers openly grieve for fallen comrades.

In war-ravaged villages and towns, survivors openly grieve for lost friends.

In the catacombs, the early Christians openly grieved for friends torn to death by wild animals and gladiators.

For millennia ago, the Jewish warrior King David wailed grief for his friend (2 Samuel I:26).

Not only did David compose a lament for his friend but he “ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament” (VI8).

Imagine those beefy, soaked soldiers sitting around campfires singing about the death of the King’s comrade. Through time, friends have given grief a voice. Have you?

Elizabeth Ogg in her book, Facing Death and Loss, says:

“The help of supportive friends can be immensely valuable in the long and painful process of trying to build a new life without that special person whose loss we feel uneasy. Around those who are grieving we usually spend less time with them at the precise period in their lives when they need us most. We can become a very useful and significant source of comfort for our friends who are bereaved. In our often fruitless search for the right thing to say, we frequently forget that there are lots of things that we can do to help our friends through a period of mourning and re-adjustment.”

When a best friend dies it leaves an enormous void. There are ways to work through the grieving process, namely:

Remember the laughs you had. Depending on how your best friend died, you may have recent memories of an illness or accident. Focus on fun things you did together and happier times.

Cry when you need to. Grieving is normal and healthy. A best friend may have been the person who helped you through difficult times. With him/her gone you may feel alone. Crying helps release anger and sadness.

Write down your thoughts. You may be finding it hard to concentrate on other things. Writing down your feelings may help you sort through all of the emotions you feel.

Spend time with other friends. Talk with others who knew your best friend. Get back into everyday life. Go out and have fun. Go to the movies, exercise or take a vacation. It’s alright to get on with life.

Do something in your best friend’s honour. Raise money for her/his favourite charity. Donate money in his/her name. Volunteer for a cause he/she believed in.

Finally, join a support group. Many people feel it helps to discuss feelings of loss with others going through the same thing.

Chomi Makina is the president of the Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers and group chief executive officer for Moonlight and Mashfords and can be contacted on clmakina@yahoo.com

For further Grief Care Counselling and help contact:
Island Hospice
6 Natal Road
Belgravia
Harare
Zimbabwe
Tel: 00263 4 701674, 791605-6
Email: islandhospice.org
Grief Share Sessions are held every Tuesday at 17:30pm at
Celebration Centre
162 Swan Drive
Borrowdale West
Harare
Zimbabwe
Tel: 00263 4 850881-9
Email: info@celebrate.org
Website: www.celebrate.org

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