A Five-Decade-Long Friendship That Begin With A Phone Call What the Loss of a Loved One Taught Me

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What the Loss of a Loved One Taught Me

Death is always a tough thing, and we all dread that day when we lose a loved one. It was six years ago that I got a call that my best friend had died in a car accident the night before. I was devastated, but through this experience, I was able to learn some very important life lessons. These lessons, though difficult, helped shape me into the person I am today.

1) The five stages of grief are very, very real.

Everyone talks about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and acceptance. It speaks more like myth than fact. However, I am here to tell you that they are all very, very real and very unpredictable.

I didn’t think the five stages of grief were real until that heartbreaking call. It wasn’t until then that I realized it wasn’t the only thing that could happen; The longer you go down the list the longer they will be.

When I first heard the news, I was in complete denial. For a few days, I convinced myself it was a cruel joke. He was going to come into my room and lay on my bed and tell me it was a big hoax. No, after I realized it wasn’t a sick joke, I alternated between bargaining and anger for three weeks, then months of depression. Then there is more anger. Depression. It was almost a whole year until I accepted that no matter how down or angry I got, he wasn’t coming back. I had to figure out how to deal with this one way or another.

2) You are closer to family than you think.

My best friend’s mom called me. We cried together on the phone for hours, begging God (or some higher power) that it wasn’t true. During the funeral, I cried along with many others. Some I know, some I know. I thought that after the funeral we’d all split up, living our own lives, passing by on Facebook occasionally, but not really talking.

Quite the opposite happened. His mother and I are closer than ever. It is the same with his siblings and his friends. We’re all friends on Facebook, and most of us talk about what’s going on in our lives at least once a month. I became a bigger part of the family than ever before. Even as we move on and live independent lives, the bond we formed with this loss will never be broken.

3) You still think about them, even years later.

Living without your loved one gets a little easier with time, but no matter how much time passes you will always think of them. Acceptance doesn’t mean you miss them any less. Don’t worry, though, it’s completely normal to do this.

I talked about my best friend and what I was going through, but my mom was in a similar situation. Her father died when she was seventeen, and I used to catch her crying as a child. When I ask what’s wrong, she always says, “I’m thinking about my dad.” She dreams about him and wakes up to find him still alive. The same thing happened with my father when both my grandparents died. Same with me and my best friend. Whenever we meet, we talk about everyone. Dad would share memories of when he was a teenager and my mom would always tell me the story of when she was five years old driving a tractor with her dad. Now that I’m old enough, I tell them about the late nights I used to sneak out of the house to go on adventures (mostly to Sonic).

Even when a loved one is gone, they are never really gone. The memories you made together are still there. Although reminiscing may be difficult at first, it will eventually comfort you.

4) Support networks are everywhere.

As I went through the five stages of grief, especially anger and depression, I felt like I had no one to talk to. I didn’t know how to talk to my parents at the time, my peers had their own coping mechanisms, and my best friend…well…he was gone. Only months later I found several websites and businesses specifically suited to dealing with grief.

However, you can always go to the religious building of your choice. Some people find comfort in religion, but I am not one of those people. So, I searched the internet for “how to deal with loss” and a lot of things came up. From articles on how to deal with grief to phone numbers and websites that talk specifically about how to deal with loss. There are many different options to help, all you have to do is search for it. Personally, I chose to go with a shared group for a while, followed by individual therapy and about a dozen forums. Not only does it make me feel better to vent my emotions, but listening to other people let me know I’m not alone.

Loss is a huge part of growing up, whether it’s a parent, a close relative, or a friend. Eventually, we lose someone before we even expect it. You are not alone and good coping habits are the best way to handle it. Seeking guidance or counseling is also a very helpful tool. Whatever you do, remember the memories and smile.

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