A dear friend of mine died tragically a few years ago and I am having a hard time getting past it. While most days I manage just fine, there are moments when I unexpectedly feel tearful when I think of her. I see that mutual friends appear to have moved on and I can’t help but feel angry and question whether they cared about her. My anger makes me feel like a bad person and I am ashamed to share to it with others. Is this normal for someone who suddenly lost a dear friend?
Dear Wendy P,
I am sorry to hear about the loss of your close friend. May her memory be a blessing. Grieving for the loss of a loved one can be difficult in most circumstances but a tragic death can make the grieving process complicated. When you lose someone suddenly, you are not only grieving the loss of your friend but living with the way she died and the inability to say your goodbyes. A sudden tragic death can also lead to unanswered questions that can linger and complicate the grief process.
It has only been a few years since your friend died which is not long at all for a sudden death. Your feelings of sadness and anger are part of grieving and should not be ignored. Sadness does seem to come at the most random and inconvenient times. If you are able in the moment, feel the sadness and express it in a healthy way. You can talk to a trusted friend, take a walk, journal about your feelings, look at pictures or take a moment to have a good cry. There is only one healthy way to get through the grieving process and that is to not resist.
In terms of feeling angry because others appear to be further along in the grief process, I caution you about making any kind of assumptions about their grief. Everyone’s comfort level at showing their emotions varies and that person may very well be struggling and not showing it. It’s okay to talk about the person you lost without worrying you are going to make someone feel sad. They are already feeling sad, and you can’t make them feel any worse than they already do. Try not to focus on anyone else’s grief. Focus on taking care of yourself and honoring your friend’s memory. You can do this by donating to your synagogue or a favorite organization in her memory, light a Yahrzeit candle on the anniversary of her death, participate in an activity she would enjoy or even have her favorite dessert in memory of her.
If your feelings should intensify or cause a significant distress or disruption in your life, talk to your physician as your grief may have developed into a clinical depression. You may want to seek out individual counseling or a grief group to support you trough this process. The most important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself and others for the next few years as
all of you grieve the loss. I like to say that anyone grieving should get a “free pass” for a few years. A free pass entitles them to a gentler approach to conflict, the benefit of the doubt and extra TLC whenever appropriate. As you weather this season of life, my hope for you is to grow as an individual, deepen your friendships through this shared experience and for you to find comfort in honoring your friend’s memory.