While I tend to live an isolationist lifestyle, it wasn’t always this way. Growing up, I managed to make a handful of lifelong friends through random childlike means. I still talk to almost all of them, and the ones I don’t, are generally because they are harder to get in contact with. Regardless, I have friends, and that I learned, is an important factor in coping with loss.
While making these new friends, the big factor in what made those friendships so strong, was because of my mother’s welcoming personality. She allowed me to constantly have friends over, or spend plenty of time with friends elsewhere. Especially after I mysteriously acquired my anxiety, when having friends over was my only option. In turn, most of my friends came to view my mother as an unofficial surrogate parent. They all respected her rules, joked around with her and as we got older, still managed to keep that same level of respect and closeness from childhood.
During the years I spent in my childhood home, I made three very close friends. We would later call ourselves ‘The Breeze Crew’, named after the court we lived on. The four of us would spend our days recording silly videos, performing life-threatening stunts and playing video games. Surprisingly, as we all went through our high school years, even though we all had a new group of friends, we never stopped talking or hanging out.
If there was one thing I feel bad about, it is that before my mother passed, I didn’t have the chance to let my closest friends bid their farewells. A lot of it was due to obviously having no control over the time or day she would pass, but also because I kept her condition fairly secret. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, but more that I didn’t want to admit things were getting bad. I would hang out with friends, casually check up on her and come back, carrying on like nothing was wrong. Some of my friends noticed that over time I started to become more anxious, checking on her fairly often and each time coming back looking worried, but they respectfully didn’t pry. Eventually after she passed, the first thing I did once the adrenaline rush wore off, was contact ‘The Breeze Crew’ and let them know.
At first I was reserved, knowing my mother, she would prefer that no one’s day be hampered because of her passing, and at the time I knew that two of my friends were at work. I spent a few moments thinking it over, and eventually decided it was something that regardless of them working or not, they would want to know. So I added them all to a group message and sent them this:
Hey guys, I wanted to let you all know that my mother passed away today. She loved you guys like her sons, and she was thankful that all of you guys were there for me growing up, even if some of you, mostly M, got me into trouble. I’m glad I met you guys and I’m glad that you all consider me a friend, even though I wasn’t always the most optimistic or tolerable guy to deal with. You guys are brothers to me, and no matter what, you guys know I’ll help you anyway I can. I apologize if this seems weird, I just felt like saying something that might help me cope with it all. Thanks.
Oddly enough, when you experience loss, there is this part of you that wants to just express yourself in anyway, to anyone you can. It is an feeling of worry, like there are things you have left unsaid that you should take the time to say, regardless of if the timing is right or not. For me, it helped; I got something off my chest and felt better for it. If there is ever a person to do that with, make it is a friend, they are usually the ones you can comfortably express yourself to most.
After they received the message, my friends all gave me their regards and told me they were coming to visit once they were off work. I was grateful to hear this, as being in the company of friends would be a far better option that the company of just myself. That night, we hung out until the wee hours of the morning; drinking, telling stories and sometimes crying. It was a tough loss, for not just myself, but also for them. On the next day, more of my friends stopped by, and as I told them the news, all of them showed their support and ensured I didn’t fall into a state of severe depression. It was a big factor in what helped me cope with such a dramatic change in my life, and to this day, most of them still find time to stop by randomly during the week to hang out and check up on me.
Not everyone is as fortunate as myself to have a handful of great friends, hell, most people are lucky to have one or two real friends they can truly rely on. No matter if you only have one or two, twelve or thirty, when experiencing a loss, look towards them to cheer you up. Don’t try and keep it all to yourself or deal with it alone. Talking about it will go a long way, and expressing yourself about it will go even further. Thank you to those who stood with me during this tough time, and especially those who showed their support. Even those who sent me kind words, it helped more than you might have intended it to. I really am fortunate to have you all, and thankful you do all consider me a friend.