Grief And Friend­ship

Escalon Times - - NEWS - Teresa Ham­mond is a staff re­porter for The Oak­dale Leader, The River­bank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at tham­mond@oak­dale­leader.com or by call­ing 847-3021.

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

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