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Grieving Forever
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Grieving Forever

I know that it is said that, "we must go on with our lives", when a loved one dies.  How in heaven's name can I be  whole again, when my best friend in the whole universe dies of breast cancer? She was the only person who knew all my secrets, went through counselling for the exact same issues that I went into counselling for.  We dated guys together and partied it up in our youth.  We quit smoking at the same time.  We always supported each other and accepted each other in anything we wanted to do. There was never any judgement against one another.  Sometimes my friend would get annoyed at me but would quickly realize that I was not doing it on purpose to annoy her.   Then she would jump in head first and would help me get back on my feet whenever I needed a hand-up. We always encouraged one another.  I was so proud to be in her wedding party when she got married to the perfect man a gal could have ever married.  They stayed married for 20 years before she died. They have two gorgeous boys. Now, she is gone, my secrets went with her as my friend's secret's will go with me when I die.  I feel completely lost without her now.  I am very lonely in this world even if I am in a room full of people.  I would give anything to be with her instead for our teatime as we enjoyed so many, many times before, rather than in a crowded room. I miss her and my cats every single day more than anyone can ever imagine.

Not only that, but as soon as I adopted my two beloved cats out (which I did not want to do), they both died as well at the same time!  Christmas is hell for me now.  So many deaths in that one month.  My favorite Aunt died right on Christmas morning!  My mother died two weeks before Christmas.  It just goes on and on from there.  I am struggling so hard with my grief. Some days I feel like I can not catch my breath because, the silence of their absence is too unbearable for me to have to accept.  Sometimes, I even forget that they have died when I think of something funny that | would have told my loved ones in the past.   I loved my best friend, my beloved cats, my mother, my aunt and many other relatives and friends who died not too long ago.  I don't think at this age (51) I will ever be whole again.
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I am so sorry for your loss. I've never had a friend like that and I can't imagine what the loss must feel like, although I have lost my mother, somehow I know it must be different. However the difference might not be greater than the similarities. I don't know. I just know that there is one constant. Life ends. It is the only real truth there is. So what do we do about it? Nothing. We live. We love. We grieve for those who die before us. I know I used to dislike it when people told me that time will heal the wound. It didn't. However time helped me learn to deal with it, to live with it. I ache for my mother still, but not every minute (and now I don't feel guilty about that). Would you believe that I treasure that ache when it does come up. I feel closest to her then.
You don't feel whole anymore and perhaps at the moment in a way that is real. Your friend resided in a large part of your heart, and now that part is vacant. But I believe that those vacancies fill up again if we allow them to. But for now, you grieve. Give yourself permission to do that. It is a natural process. Treat yourself gently during this time. It sounds like your friend died last Christmas (forgive me if I got that wrong). Eight months is not really a lot of time for such a big loss.

I am Jewish (although not so much a practicing one). I found great comfort in the Jewish laws regarding the loss of a loved one. When I lost my mother I pulled down some info from a website that explains it better then I. Perhaps this will help you too.

Judaism provides a beautiful, structured approach to mourning that involves three stages. When followed carefully, these stages guide mourners through the tragic loss and pain and gradually ease them back into the world. The loss is forever, but the psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing that takes place at every stage is necessary and healthy. The journey through the stages of mourning are like being in a cocoon. At first one feels numb and not perceptively alive, yet gradually one emerges as a butterfly ready again to fly.

The first seven days of mourning (called sitting Shiva) are reserved for the most intense, painful grief.

The next month or so (Shloshim) one is still in mourning but is encouraged to very gradually reenter into everyday life. It is a time to renew and come to grips with a new reality. Of course mourners still feel the pain of the loss, but Judaism recognizes that to a certain degree, the passage of time is able to ease and heal the pain. Being able to return to everyday life freely helps achieve this healing. The shiva was the worst period, the shloshim was very hard, and this stage is bad. In time, it will get better.

Of course this period is extended when it come to losing a parent.

So finally Jewish law provides for one year from the day of death for someone who losr a parent to be considered in mourning. (Throughout the year one gradually returns to a regular life).

The reason that a parental loss is considered different is that psychologically and spiritually, our connection to our parents is the essential relationship that defines who we are as people. Therefore, the loss of a parent requires a longer period of adjustment.

This period of time guides us into a deep state of gratitude for all they gave and all they did. As children, we spend most of our lives in "taking mode," and our parents, being parents, are almost constantly in "giving mode." It is hard to say thank you from a taking perspective (that is why it's hard for our children to say thank you). In a relationship where it is the most difficult to show gratitude, this period of time helps us focus on recognizing the good that our parents desperately tried to give in the best way that they could.
Parents also represent values and ideals. They are God's representatives to us in this world. They try to impart in their own way essential tools for living. This extended period of mourning recognizes that the loss of such a relationship has deep spiritual ramifications.

Finally despite the piece above being "parent-centric" I think you can take away it's lessons still. And even if you are not Jewish, the following paragraphs can give great solace. I'll leave you with them and my prayers. I am here (if only virtually) for you.

The process of mourning is not easy, and the Jewish way provides a structure to let mourners feel their aloneness, separating them from the outside world and then gradually reinstating them back into society.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes in "Horeb" that when people are in a state of grief, they physically feel a vacuum within them. This is the most painful state, because the essential drive of every person is the drive for fullness and completion.

The different stages of mourning allow us to come to grips with the loss. Eventually we realize that the empty hole is not nearly as deep or as vast as we initially felt.

Time does heal. But not because we are busy and the memories fade. With time comes objectivity. We realize that the person we are now is the result of the loved one we lost. The elements of our character, actions and values all result from this special soul and the experience of loss.

The body, being finite, does die. Yet the soul, the essence of our loved one, is eternal. The connection between us lives on. This reality begins to slowly fill the vacuum, but not completely. We can never fully grasp the eternity of the soul. There will always be that space inside. We are human beings who are limited in our capacity to truly understand the ways of God and the afterlife.
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I don't think there are any words to help with the loss of a loved on, but it's all we can expect. I've had every loss imaginable, parents, siblings, son, grandson, pets so I understand your pain.  I have no words of wisdom, all that helped me was therapy and medication for depression.  I look back over the years at all who have passed on and still don't know how I've made it, but I did.  I think the biggest thing for me is that it's never been about "me."  When I lost a loved one, I immediately thought of who I still had and how I had to be strong for them, and how much they needed me.  I got involved in church and volunteering to help others who were struggling with all kinds of things from poverty, to addiction.  Helping others, helped me.  You need to get out and do things you are passionate about.  Keep your friend's memory alive and be the happy, life loving person she wants you to be. Volunteer at your local shelter to give comfort to animals, do for others, and this will help you so much.  I am truly sorry for your losses, but don't allow yourself to lose your love of life, nobody who has passed on would want this for you.  Seek professional help if need be, but keep moving forward.  Take care...
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I am in such a deep state of depression after losing my beautiful and only sister two months ago.  We were best friends and my life is upside down.  Everyone tells me to be strong that she is in a better place. and wouldn't  want me to behave like this.  To that I say "Leave me alone and let me wallow in this grief"  Everyday seems to be more and more difficult for me.  No one understand my pain
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I am SO, so sorry for all of the losses that you have had to endure.  The loss of your best friend seems to be hitting you the hardest right now, right?  I have a very close friend from college who's wife died from breast cancer in July 2009.  She was his best friend, soul mate, lover and mother of his children.  He has 3 grown kids, and his 2 daughters in particular provide him with a huge amount of support.  It goes both ways, he leans on them too.

When you said that you had lost your best friend, I immediately thought of my friend.  Besides the support of his family, he stays busy...he has 2 businesses to run, lives out in the country (mowing, etc. is a chore and takes a lot of time), and now has a huge house to take care of by himself.  He still has his times of grieving, but I've found from losing my dad in April, that just doing ANYTHING helps me a lot.  

You might consider seeing a counselor.  I have had really good experiences going to a counselor during difficult times in my life.  They are somehow able to give you a different perspective on things.

I hope and pray that you will feel better soon.  I'm 57 (about to turn 58...ugh!) and I can certainly empathize with you about friends from my high school and college days.  Please, please take care of yourself.
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