Losing a Friend: 4 Things You Should Do
Remembering Alison S. Moore
I had just spoken to her on Friday evening. I had planned to call her on Tuesday on my way to work. Monday was a holiday. But on that particular day, I received a worrisome message. I called as requested and found out that my friend had died suddenly and unexpectedly. I am sure I experienced all of the stages of grief at once and separately. Though I am no stranger to grief related to the death of a loved one this is the first time that I have lost a friend, a close friend. It was sudden. It was shocking. It is devastating. It hurts. Now I am left with memories and brokenness. We planned so much. It is hard wanting to call her knowing she will not answer. Her 39th birthday was coming up and a few of us were planning to surprise her with her favorite activities, a spa day.
Grief. It sucks. Losing a friend sucks. It feels different from losing a family member yet more difficult in some ways. It is hard because some people assume that since you weren't a biological family member that you are not as impacted or that your relationship is less than. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that everyone feels like this. There are some who understand and know better. Though I had not imagined losing a friend before old age, I have learned so much already through this experience that I believe is worth sharing as it could help others.
1. We may not be able to predict our death but we can prepare for it. You probably do not want to hear this, but it is true. It is hard to think about death and leaving our family and friends behind, but it is a reality. So while you are still here, you can make things easier on your family and friends by preparing. Preparation includes having your wishes and desires in writing, including a will and an advance directive. Even if you are a young adult in your late 20s or early 50s you should plan and update yearly or as often as you need to depending on your situation.
A will is a legal declaration of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property or estate after death especially: a written instrument legally executed by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death.
An advance directive is a legal document that explains how you want medical decisions about you to be made if you cannot make the decisions yourself. An advance directive lets your health care team and loved ones know what kind of health care you want, or who you want to make decisions for you when you can't.
2. Sometimes friends know people better than family. I recognize this can be a difficult concept for some people to understand but it is true. Think about your own relationships for a moment. It is commonly stated how you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. When you think about this, it shouldn’t seem like a foreign concept that it is possible to be closer to friends than some family members.
3. Let your friends know what you want to be done and how you want your things handled in writing. This is especially important if you know you have things that you would not want to be addressed by your immediate family or next of kin. This is particularly for things that may not be “will worthy” or things that you want to be handled privately. Consider outlining what you want to happen with those things and with whom you want them left with for safekeeping or disposal. Let this person know and put it in writing so that in the event something happens, carrying out your wishes will hopefully not be as difficult. You could also consider letting your next of kin know upfront that there are some things that you want to be handled by your close friends so that they are aware. Also, you should consider letting someone know your passwords or how to access your passwords for things like your phone and accounts. The designated person does not have to have it up front but should have instructions on how to find these things.
4. Be very attentive to the things your friends say especially when it pertains to important things. For example, when your friends say things like, "I was working on my (insert important document name here) the other day" or "I have a lockbox with important documents under my bed". If your friend has a chronic or terminal illness, pay close attention to the things they tell you and ask follow up questions if you are not clear or don’t understand. They are sharing these things with you because they trust you and rely on your friendship.
Alison S. Moore was truly one of a kind. She was one of the first friends that I made when I moved to Birmingham, Alabama after graduating from college. She was sensitive yet sarcastic. She was opinionated yet humble. She was strong-willed though she endured suffering. She was so thoughtful and a deep thinker. She did her best to turn lemons into lemonade. She was one of the best writers that I have known and encouraged me so much in my writing endeavors. She was brutally honest and called it just as she saw it. I appreciate that about her. She was passionate and generous. She was a true fighter and a true believer in Jesus Christ. I was inspired by her dedication to her “quiet time” with God that she would not allow to be interrupted with distractions. I am thankful for the mark that she left on my life and for a sustained friendship of 17 years. Rejoice with Jesus. No more pain. No more drama. No more dialysis. No more kidney disease. No more depression. Until we meet again.
Definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary and cancer.org.
Are there any other things that you would add to the list? Have you experienced the loss of a close friend? How did it impact you?