All friendships are prone to disagreements or problems at times, but sometimes these can cause irreparable harm. Dealing with the end of a long term friendship can be particularly tough as this person likely knows you well and is very integrated into your life. You can cope with this loss through focusing on your healing, maintaining your current friendships, and practicing self-care.
Cry it out.
Though you might feel the need to be tough, realize that the true sign of strength is being able to be vulnerable. You cannot heal if you stifle your emotions. When you feel the urge to cry, do so. If you are at work or in public, step away to the restroom for a few moments.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable will make it easier to process negative or unresolved emotions in the long run. Don’t be afraid to let everything out.
Avoid constantly ruminating over the loss, however. Schedule time each day to think about it, cry, and mourn your relationship. Once that time is over, move on to something else.
Write a letter.
If your friendship ended abruptly or in anger, you may not have had the chance to say goodbye. You do not need to send this letter nor do you need to bash your friend in it. Consider reflecting on the positive memories that you had with them, acknowledging the value the friendship added to your life, but then end the letter with a goodbye.
Acknowledge what you did wrong in the letter or what you could have done differently, but don’t fixate on it. What’s done is done.
Write in your journal.
Beyond a letter, you can also benefit from some daily reflections surrounding the loss. Each day, perhaps when you come home from work or school or when you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness, take a few moments to write down your thoughts and how you are feeling.
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Meditation can be a great tool in helping you stay present, focused and relaxed rather than constantly thinking about your lost friendship. Meditation helps to clear the mind so that you can think more logically and calmly about issues you are facing. Take ten minutes each day, either in the morning or when you get home, to meditate in a quiet space where you will be uninterrupted.
There are several meditation apps available for download including “Calm” and “Headspace.”
Avoid social media.
Social media will only trigger you to think about your friend more, thus making it more difficult for you to cope and move on. For the next few weeks, stay off of social media as much as possible. Deactivate your accounts or simply delete the apps from your phone.
If you must still use social media, then you can at least unfollow or unfriend your old friend so that you don’t see the things they post. You might even consider blocking them.
If you’re tempted to call your friend, consider blocking their number as well.
Give yourself time.
It can take six weeks to fully grieve from the loss of a deep friendship, although it sometimes takes as long as two years. You shouldn’t expect to wake up a few days later and feel completely normal and fine. Don’t rush the process, be gentle with yourself, and give yourself space to heal.
Develop a plan for when you see them.
You might have some anxiety surrounding how you will deal the next time you see them, especially if you two work together or are in the same friend group. Or you might see them out and about in the city one day, as well. Plan a script in your head so that you feel prepared at all times.
It can be very simple like “Hello, Janine. I hope you’re doing well.” And then you can walk away.
You don’t have to approach them, but if you are in close proximity, at least you have a few words that you can speak that are both polite and short.
It may help to tell mutual friends about the end of the relationship so they can help you steer clear of your former friend.
Reach out for professional help.
Many people often only consider the breakup of a romantic relationship as being tough, but a longtime friendship dissolving can be equally as heartbreaking. Notice signs of depression that could become debilitating. If you feel that you cannot get out of bed, don’t enjoy life any longer, or can’t keep up with your basic responsibilities, consider getting outside help. Look for therapists in your area.
Don’t make your mutual friends pick.
Even if your friend did something bad to you, don’t talk badly about them to your mutual friends. Never make your friends pick between the two of you, as this will put them in an impossible situation, and you might find that they won’t choose you.
Say instead “I want you to know that you don’t have to choose sides. I have been friends with you for a while, too and I really want to maintain our friendship.”
Make it clear that you don’t want to see your former friend so your mutual friends can take it into account when planning parties or other events.
Take this loss as a lesson.
Improve from what you learned at the end of this friendship. Though your friend may be to blame, acknowledge any role that you played, as well. You can learn a lot from both your own mistakes and those of your former friend. Work to be a better friend and choose better friends in the future.
However, don’t beat yourself up about the mistakes you made. Learn from them, and move on.
Ask others for their perspectives on the friendship. They might be able to offer a more objective view, and this can teach you even more.
Always be loyal and honest with your friends.
Look for the silver lining.
Ending a friendship can be difficult, but it often comes with positives, too. For example, maybe you are now free to pursue interesting activities that you couldn’t before.
Spend time with your other friends.
Though you likely had many mutual friends, spend some time with those that you did not have in common. Though you should not forsake your mutual friends, they will serve as strong reminders of the friendship that you lost, and that could delay the healing process.
Connect with family, as well.
Remember to spend time alone.
Though being around people during this time is good, spending time alone will be instrumental in your healing. Avoid making plans with people every single day, and opt for every other day instead.
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During this time of coping, taking care of yourself will be vitally important. In caring for your mental and emotional state, don’t forget to care for the physical, as well. Try to exercise at least three times per week for a minimum of thirty minutes. Take a walk around the block or join a gym.
Sleep helps you to recharge and gives you some temporary relief from your sadness. Oftentimes, when you go to sleep, you wake up feeling slightly better about what was troubling you the night before. Commit to getting at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Do things that you enjoy.
When you are feeling sad about something, you often do not engage with the activities that you used to enjoy. However, when you do this, it tends to make you feel worse. Challenge yourself to keep up your hobbies and interests, even if in small doses.
Continue to read, dance, watch your favorite shows, cook or do anything else that you enjoy.
Try new activities with new people! Check out websites like https://www.meetup.com, an online platform that connects you with people in your area who want to participate in similar activities.
Avoid constant busyness.
Though you should set up a schedule for yourself, avoid having something to do at every moment of the day. It’s tempting to use busy work to block out negative emotions, but it’s not helpful in the long run. Give yourself some downtime so that you can process, heal and adjust to your new life.
Try enjoying some quiet time in nature.