On losing a close friend

Dear god-daughter,

I have followed your Twitter and Facebook posts about losing your close friend. I could not possibly have fit this in the 140-character Twitter limit, and despite the 60,000+ character Facebook post limit, Facebook may arbitrarily restrict or bury the post, so this medium will have to do. You were very special to Lucy and you are still very special to me. I hope you find some comfort in these words and please remember that you have friends and family who deeply care about you. It has been hard to find the right words since this is an experience I know all too well.

A close friend is someone who can make you laugh with just a single word or a knowing look, who says the right things to comfort you when the universe is sending you tests rather than gifts, is someone you trust unconditionally, has unquestionably accepted you as you are, is someone who would help you in any way possible and wants nothing in return, and is someone who you can think about and your day immediately brightens. There are over seven billion people on this rotating rock, but only a very tiny number become your close friends.

There are different types of love. Family loves you because of a couple of billion years of genetic conditioning to protect others sharing common mitochondrial DNA. It is a very powerful and wonderful love, despite my clinical description and the occasional bickering and quarreling of course, but you are born into it. Family wants what is best for you even if it does not seem that way.

Close friends are a special kind of love. A close friend is someone you chose and who has chosen you. It is a very pure form of love. When Lucy died, I lost my closest friend and I still miss her with every breath I draw and every beat of my heart. My other close friends have been so supportive of me and they have helped me with my healing process. There will never be another Lucy, but my close friends help me to celebrate what I had with her rather than mourn what I have lost with her passing. Your mom is one of those people and I am deeply grateful for her support. I have another close friend who calls me nearly every night so we can share how our respective days went. It may sound mundane, but it means the world to me because it means someone chooses to share that time with me.

It is OK to question your belief system. It is never fair when good people pass on while evil people go on living. Philosophers and theologians have tried solving that riddle since the beginning of recorded history and no one can adequately explain why. The hardest part is we want answers and there is no answer. “Everything happens for a reason” is true, but as an example, did Lucy deserve to fight a cancer battle? Did your friend deserve a stroke? What was the reason for either of those? The belief system that you may or may not question is the belief system that will eventually help you heal.

One of the books I read in Psychology 101 was Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s “On Death and Dying”. Profound loss has five stages, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (DABDA). These five stages are not linear, are not on a time line and are quite interchangeable. One part of acceptance is no longer questioning why because we will never know. Your inner strength, belief system, family and friends all will help you.

Take your time to properly grieve, because as the grief leaves your soul, the happy memories flow in to fill the void. This is the other part of acceptance. I can talk about the fun things Lucy and I did without tearing up and feeling empty and alone, though it seems to make people a bit uncomfortable. Every person is unique, so there is not established schedule or protocol for grieving. People mean well but may sometimes say things that upset you because they do not understand how you are feeling; you may not understand how you are feeling. People are fallible and most people have good intentions at heart. You may think they are trying to smother you, but they are not. Forgive them when they falter and appreciate their concern and compassion. As part of your healing, you might cry one minute and laugh in the next one; sometimes you’ll do both at once. Certain songs or objects may cause a sudden crying spell. Let the tears flow because they will wash out the hurting and clean out the filter between the conscious and subconscious mind.

Humans long for a sense of connection with our lost loved ones. The truth is your friend is still part of you and lives on in you. A wise and wonderful close friend reminds me of that fact when I occasionally forget. Honor your friend’s memory by being the best person you can, the person that your friend knew and loved. Just because you stop crying does not mean you have stopped loving or missing your friend. The wonderful memories are too powerful to stay suppressed and will eventually erode the walls of pain and loss. No one will ever take the place of your friend because each of us is unique and each of us is irreplaceable. Cherish that uniqueness and treasure your good times together.

I am deeply sorry for your loss but I am overjoyed for the time you two were in each other’s lives. I’m here if you need to talk and I do miss you. I hope you find something to smile about today and in the upcoming days ahead.

I love you, sweetie,
Your god-father.

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