Making Friends with Grief

I’ve had a tough year. I’m not looking for sympathy or suggesting that my 2020 has been any worse than others’ because I think 2020 has been traumatic for most of us on some level. But it’s been a tough year for me.

Back in February I read a post on Facebook by a friend in NY saying that our mutual friend, Philine was in the hospital. Philine is a very old friend of mine. We met in the summer of 1982 when we were in a community theater show, Blithe Spirit together. She was a few years older – I was in high school and she was in college – but we bonded immediately and spent so much time together over the following years. I practically lived at her house and was part of her family for a long time. Eventually she moved to NYC and I moved out of the immediate area. We drifted apart, as happens with the best of friends. We kept in touch over the last few years on Facebook and through emails. So, the mutual friend told me that Philine had been found in her apartment by her roommate, unresponsive. It was a brain bleed. She didn’t wake up. Within a week or so in the hospital she passed. This was during the period of time when I was pretty sick, myself, and hadn’t yet been diagnosed with diabetes. I could barely get out of bed most days and travel was out of the question so I didn’t get to say goodbye.

A few months later I lost a co-worker I was friends with. His name was Thomas. He had out of control diabetes and a host of other issues that he just didn’t take care. He never followed his doctor’s orders. He went into the hospital with a raging infection in his foot and off the charts blood sugar levels and passed about a week later.

My friend Alison. That one hit hard, too. She had breast cancer. Round one she seemed to win. Round two, not so much. She had such an amazing faith and trust in the Lord. She was under hospice care in Florida when she passed. She was an old friend from high school I remained in touch with. She and I read scripture together over the phone when she was first giving the whole Jesus thing a try. She took off like fireworks, like nothing I’d ever seen before. She was simply amazing. She made a video about her faith for her church just before she went into the hospital for the last time and they played it at the memorial service. I watched it streaming and cried my eyes out because I just never saw anyone with that level of faith in the face of death before. It was humbling.

And now Mary, because bad news doesn’t just come in threes when we’re talking about 2020. Mary passed just a few weeks ago and it wasn’t sudden or unexpected. I was (and am) relieved that she’s not suffering any more, because Mary suffered greatly over the last couple of years. She was in a great deal of pain most of the time and still managed to keep her sense of humor 90 percent of the time. I talked to her through texts and emails pretty much daily during the last few weeks of her life and I’m glad that I did. I don’t have regrets about things that I should have said, because I knew that her end was coming soon and I got to say everything I needed to say to her. I don’t have to wonder if she knew that I loved her. I told her I did, many times in those last days. But I miss my friend. I miss our stupid jokes and silly conversations. I come home at the end of the day and there are dumb stories about things that happened during the day that I know would make her laugh and I open up Messenger… and I can’t tell her. It’s an adjustment period, I get it. It’s part of grieving, but I hate the whole process. I hate the age I’ve gotten to because I’m losing friends left and right. I guess I’ll have to get used to it. It’s a part of living. It’s a part I don’t like very much.

We never know when we’re going to lose someone we love. Hug your family, hug your friends, tell them how you feel. Don’t have any regrets.

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