Today, I wanted to talk about losing a friend and how deeply challenging that can be. This is something I’m going through right now and, well, it’s not been an easy time for me.
Or John for that matter, but he’s been my rock and I am eternally grateful.
In this day and age of connectivity, our friends have become like a separate family. Oftentimes we see them more frequently than our actual blood relations. In some ways, our friendships impact our daily lives more than our families, because we have chosen to spend time with them.
So it hurts when your chosen family passes away.
Many of you already know this: John and I recently lost someone very close to us. Yadi, AKA “Tiny” was my friend for over 18 years and John & I’s roommate for the last six months. Earlier this month, she passed away in her sleep in our home.
I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It was a whirlwind of a day after John discovered the body. We had police, medical examiners and family members in and out of our house all day. It was a lot to deal with and felt very overwhelming in the moment.
But we got through it.
Our emotions were all over the place, as you can expect. Not only did we lose someone we loved very much, but it happened the same week as a couple other major events: Yadi’s 49th birthday and the anniversary of the day John & I met. Lots of big feels involved.
We tried our best not to wallow in our grief, but that’s a difficult thing to do when you love someone as much as I loved “Tiny”. She was my soul sister, my singing partner and I miss her every single minute of every single day day.
Honestly, in the weeks that followed, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. When someone dies, it’s always our first instinct to be sad and stay that way. You know, we think we’re supposed to immerse ourselves in our grief.
But that’s not what Yadi would have wanted.
She would want us to have fun. So that’s exactly what we did. We went to a Billy Joel concert, Hollywood Studios and, of course, we had to make a visit Jellyrolls in her honor. John & I sang our hearts out, laughed, and cried. We had so many good times there and it felt good to remember them in such a present way.
However, the grieving process hasn’t always been easy. Let me tell you a story about a recent trip to Publix:
The other day I found myself in Publix, buying John and I some Pub Subs, because, y’know, they are a far superior sub sandwich!
Well, Publix isn’t perfect and on this occasion, they screwed up John’s sandwich. On a normal day, this would be no biggie for me. They’d fix it or remake it, hand it back to me and I’d move on with my day.
Not this day though. Because of everything going on, I was holding on by a thread. I yelled at the clerk and had a bona fide freakout about John’s sub being incorrect.
So I broke down crying right there in the Publix deli line. Tears streaming down my face, sobbing, all of it. It was embarrassing.
But you know what else it was? Human.
Instead of shying away in a grief shame spiral, I apologized to the deli clerk and explained to them what was going on in my life.
The deli clerk hugged me and let me know it was okay. They understood what I was going through and offered to say a prayer for Yadi, and for me. That simple act of kindness left me in a much better place than when I started my trip to Publix.
All it took was a little bit of understanding.
And here’s an other thing… this freakout came about, not because of the way John treats me. If I came back with an incorrect sub, he’d understand. I know in my heart and soul that John would never behave so harsh to me about the error. But that was a trigger from my past abusive marriage. And my grief brought it closer to the surface.
I didn’t plan to blog about this today, but I tried to write a few different things and they just felt wrong.
It feels strange for me to be sharing my sadness in such a public way with you. Sadness normally is something we’ve been taught to hide away and not share with others.
Well, my friends, I say we don’t hide it. I say we be up front about how hard it is to lose a friend. Feel the feelings when they happen… don’t run away from them.
I’m trying my best to be honest and open with all the feelings that come with losing a friend.
There’s the happy ones where I find myself laughing my face off remembering our antics and some of the silly things “Tiny” would say. Those are easy to share with other people. People are comfortable with happy emotions.
Then there’s the times when I find myself almost unable to breathe, I’m crying so hard. Those? Well, those are harder to share with others. I am, though, and I am so grateful to all of my friends for being there for me when I need them.
I don’t really know how to end this. Losing a friend is hard. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
However, I think there is a lesson to be learned from my experiences… or maybe a reminder is a better word, because we all know this deep down inside.
You never know what another person is going through at any given time. Treat them with the same grace, understanding and respect as you would a loved one. Let them have space to be themselves and react however they react.
Grief never looks the same on different people, so you never know what folks are dealing with.
So, just be nice to people. Do it for Yadi.