Friendships are often a refuge from strife at work or in a marriage, so it can come as a surprise when this relationship you count on faces some hard times of its own. Not everyone deals with conflict easily or effectively, so if a friendship has abruptly ended, it is possible that your friend has not been able to ask for what she needs or tell you what's upsetting her. The two of you may also have grown apart, and she may have just realized it. Coping with this loss can be a challenge, but as with other losses, the experience may make you stronger.
1. Ask for Closure
It's disconcerting when a friend suddenly terminates a friendship. You probably feel bewildered and not a little hurt. Go ahead and ask your friend why she chose to end the friendship -- not so that you can engage in an argument, but so that you'll know what happened. Consider sending her an email saying that you'd like to know the reason behind her decision. Assure her you'll respect her desire for no additional contact, but that you'd like closure so that you can learn from the experience and move on.
The end of a friendship can feel akin to a death or divorce, especially if you've been close friends with the person for a long time. Give yourself permission to cry or eat a couple of pints of premium ice cream. Unburden yourself in your journal or talk to a counselor or trusted family member. In an October 2012 Psychology Today article on the "Real Stages of Grief," psychologist Will Meek explains that acute grief is a healthy stage to move through, and it leads to a place where you can feel more positive and forgiving. If your grief begins to take on the form of depression, however, causing you to withdraw or experience unwanted negative thoughts and emotions, it's a good idea to seek professional help.
Every encounter you have with another person is an opportunity for growth. While the end of your friendship is undoubtedly painful, it provides you with the chance to evaluate the choices you made -- both good and bad -- in the friendship. You may come to realize that you have negative patterns that you need to work on, or that you are choosing to trust the wrong people with your heart. If you ask yourself what you can learn, you'll feel empowered rather than victimized by the situation.
4. Move On
Time can heal the pain you are experiencing from the loss of your friend, advises psychologist and friendship expert Irene Levine in an April 2011 Huffington Post article on dealing with a friendship's end. Meanwhile, move on with your life. Instead of cancelling your plans to attend the concert you have tickets to, invite a new friend or a person you haven't connected with in a while. Make coffee dates and go places where you're likely to meet new friends. While no one will ever fill the exact space left by your old friend's absence, you'll add richness to your life as you carve out new relationships.
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