This isn’t what you think. Well, at least I don’t think it is. Most especially since one of my most recent columns spoke of middle age and all that entails.
The grief mentioned here and in this context, is not used in relation to the emotion prompted by physical loss via loss of life. Actually, as I type that I recognize they may indeed be one and the same, just a little less obvious.
The grief and friendship I speak of, is one I still struggle with and am learning to make peace with. Truth be told, I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to friendship divorce. Yes, ‘divorce’ is what I’ve learned to call it as it is a break up and if your friendships are anything like mine you recognize the sinking/sick feeling you get when this occurs.
Honestly, I never really knew this was a thing. Oh sure, through my lifetime, I’ve had plenty of friends and or friendships which have run their course as jobs change, kids grow or addresses become different. It happens. I still recall struggling with it after graduation from college, as my childhood/lifelong friends found our way separately. Prior to college graduation we maintained a connection via return trips home during breaks and visits to one another’s campuses to “check out the scene.”
Post-graduation marriages ensued, careers, baby showers, babies and busy parenting life – all in separate zip codes from one another, each on different time lines. As hard as the adjustment was, the ‘busyness’ seemed to keep the grief at bay. Keeping in touch when we could, maintaining a semi-sense of connection.
Now midway through life, what I’ve come to learn, is often times as our paths change so too may our friendships. Case in point; six years ago when I chose to leave a marriage I lost friends. A loss not like the type you see in the movies, but rather one where it was decided that I was not the same person this person once knew.
Typing that makes me chuckle now. The saying holds true, hindsight is indeed 20/20 and if I’m being honest with myself, those friends would be right. You don’t wake up and walk through divorce only to come out the same on the other side. It’s a true and big life change and in doing so, it changes you.
A few years back a dear friend shared some honest and heartfelt thoughts with me. Her words were simple, “You need to shrink your circle.” At the time, this seemed odd and confusing. I love people and I especially love my friends. As an only child, friendships have been something I’ve always held near and dear, why would I choose to do such a thing? Crazy talk.
I recently came upon an article via social media which discussed this very topic. The topic of losing friends for no apparent reason. Friends who just suddenly stop replying or speaking to you. Perhaps they were shrinking their circle, one never truly knows.
What I found interesting is the number of people who responded to the article when I chose to share it. I wasn’t alone. My confusion, sadness, grief was shared by others who had struggled with this very topic. Yet no one openly talks about it, similar to death we try and come to terms and move on. That’s just not always easy to do.
While I’m happy to report I remain friends with the friend that gave me the advice, I can equally share I still struggle with it, yet I’m embracing it. I even went as far as to make some circle shrinking choices of my own in this new year – it was necessary.
So what does this all mean? Like most columns I’m penning these days, I really don’t know. What I hope, is just as the article I shared offered me comfort this does the same for a friend divorce. It’s hard losing people from our lives. Friends that we love, whom we know are still waking each morning to face a new day. Life didn’t take them from us; or did it? That’s where we find the true meaning and proper association of the word grief. Be it removed from the planet or removed from our lives, when we truly love someone it is never easy to accept the loss.
The key however lies in not how we choose to react but respond. Life does indeed continue. It is not the size of the circle which will sustain us, but the quality. Therein lies the love and the joy.
As the saying goes: “There are three kinds of friends: friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.” – Author unknown
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.