I recently found myself losing a friend. We’d been friends for five years, had countless playdates, went out for girls’ nights, and even our hubbies became buds. Sadly, she felt our friendship was over. This stirred in my heart memories of a few other friendships in my life that have ended. A couple I had to walk away from, and a couple I felt the pain of being let go. Whatever side you’re on, if you’ve been through it, you know how hurtful, confusing, and frustrating it is when a friendship ends.
As I was navigating this suddenly strained friendship, I felt so ill-equipped. I found myself going to Google to figure out “how to save a friendship,” “if I should tell mutual friends,” and “how to know if someone is blowing you off.”
Perhaps you’ve been there. My heart goes out to you, sister. But it wasn’t Google that came to the rescue—it was intentionally making healthy and loving choices to move forward in genuine care for both of us that helped me navigate a messy friendship.
There’s no easy way to get through this kind of loss. But there are things you can do to help yourself keep putting one foot in front of the other as you journey. I found these five things helpful to do as my friendship was ending.
Pray. I cannot stress this one enough—just pray. The situation with my friend lasted over the span of a few months. I prayed during that time and tried my best to put it all in God’s hands, some days that was easier than others. I needed some clarity from her, but it was praying to God that prepared me for her final decision to walk away from the friendship. Praying for her helped me to not judge her or be constantly consumed and upset. Praying about the situation gave me patience in the waiting, and I found peace that however things turned out, it would be okay. When a friendship is going through something tough, don’t forget to pray about it.
Acknowledge your feelings. Feel all the feelings. It’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to have to give yourself the time to mourn the loss. Sometimes, losing a friendship is painful, stirs up anger, is a relief, or can be downright confusing. Sisters, don’t stuff it down. Don’t pretend that you’re okay when you aren’t. Let yourself feel what you feel. And as you acknowledge, name, and process those feelings, they won’t haunt or overwhelm you. When you deal with your emotions in a healthy way, you will be able to rationally move forward with the best intentions for both of you in mind.
Talk about it. It was beneficial for me to talk about the strained friendship. I felt embarrassed and could have easily kept it to myself, but that was not the answer and would have only made the tense relationship eat away at my peace of mind. My husband was my sounding board. I didn’t want to gossip, and I didn’t want to tell others until I knew what was actually going on. It meant a lot to me to have a trusted person to share my heart with and to walk with me. It’s okay to talk it out with a trusted confidante, your momma, counselor, or pastor. I couldn’t confide in our mutual friends, but having someone to talk to was an important step in helping me find peace as the situation unfolded. That trusted person will provide encouragement, help you keep a balanced perspective, and ask the right questions to help you get through.
Take the high road. This feels like old advice, but it served a good purpose. I committed to taking the high road because anything less would have just brought out the worst in everyone. There were a couple of down moments when I got upset, but gossiping or talking bad about her would have never solved the problem. It only would have made things worse, and I eventually would have felt awful. The high road for me also meant sharing less than more. When I finally was able to tell mutual friends, I kept it short and informative rather than belittling her, making her out to be a bad guy, or playing the victim. She had been my friend for years, I still loved and cared about her. I needed to be respectful as the friendship was ending. My faith in God reminded me that Jesus loves everyone, and I should treat all with love, even those who no longer call me their friend.
Recognize your worth. Remembering my own value helped me through as the friendship came to a final close. Don’t let someone else’s actions define what you believe about yourself. I so easily wanted to mentally beat myself up. I did something wrong. I wasn’t enough. I was too much. I’m so stupid for not taking her hints. I never fit in. My thoughts were running rampant with ways to blame myself. I had to stop and remember who I am in Christ. I surely make a ton of mistakes, and I am not a perfect friend, but I am kind and caring and do my best each day. I needed to understand that though she didn’t want to be my friend anymore, I am still lovable, fun, and a good friend.
If you’re reading this, and you are going through the tough process of a friendship ending, I’m sorry. I would not wish that pain or mess on anyone—whether you’re the one walking away or being walked away from. It is difficult, there’s no manual on how to get through, and there are a lot of hard things to figure out. I don’t think God ever intended friendships to end, but we’re human and relationship issues are going to happen. What I’ve learned is that Jesus will get you through, and hopefully, keeping these five things in mind will help you navigate the loss of a friendship in a healthy and peaceful way.