Shawna O’Hagan Morrow header image

What Death Taught Me about Friendship

in Relationships & Family
In September I lost my friend Mark very suddenly. He was too young, it was unexpected and all of our worlds were rocked.

I’ve lost friends before – we’ve grown apart, we’ve had disagreements, we just went our separate ways, but I’ve never had a friend die. I’ve learned a lot about friendship since losing Mark.

I’ve learned that I’ll never be able to make sense of his death. I’ll always be sad that he’s gone. I will purposefully try to keep his memory alive. I will remember him. I will tell great stories about him. I will try to live my life as generous and caring as he was, as my way to honor him. I will continue to find positive ways to remember him.

I’ve learned it’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. I’m crying as I write this. I miss my friend. In the past I would have pushed the grief aside and said that I was only his friend, I shouldn’t be so upset. I would have denied that I was grieving too. I’ve been crying since September 12th. I will continue to cry. It’s ok. It’s part of the process.

I’ve learned to allow my feelings. No matter what they are. I have to work through them. I can’t just push them aside. If I’m sad, I cry. My advice for you is to just know what you’re feeling. Sit with it. Feel it. It’s the best way to move through it.

I’ve learned that I want to reconnect with friends. One of the good things that came over the last two months is that I have reconnected with so many friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Life gets busy and the next thing you know it’s been 11 years since you’ve seen them. Crazy! Eleven years, but it’s true. Facebook helps us stay in touch, but it’s no substitute for a phone call or a hug or a 3-hour lunch just catching up. I want this. I want to catch up. I want to see your faces.

I’ve learned why friendships run their course. People come into our lives to teach us something or show us something. Some friendships last a lifetime, others for only a short time. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out where some friendships went wrong. When in reality they lasted as long as they were supposed to.

After Mark’s death I ran into my former best friend unexpectedly. We haven’t seen each another in many years. We never had a fight or anything bad, we just went our separate ways. It has been a mystery for a long time about what happened. Where did the friendship go?

After seeing him, I finally realized that he made decisions to be with the person he loved. She did not understand our friendship. So, in order for him to have a chance at the happiness he wanted, that we all want, he made a decision to walk away from his friendships that he couldn’t sustain.

I can now see that if we could have had a conversation about his needing to end our friendship and pursue the love of his life, I never would have stood in his way; I would have wished him well and moved on. Our friendship was real and we had a great time. But after seeing him and talking about how devastated and shocked we were about Mark’s death, I felt peace. I understood there was no animosity between us. Our friendship had run its course and it had ended. We simply moved on with our lives. I was happy to see him. I wish nothing but his continued happiness.

I’ve learned to be grateful for the memories. I think of all the good times I’ve had with all my friends – past and present – and smile about the memories we’ve made. I’m so grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life. I’m always telling our stories.

I’ve learned that I’ve made mistakes. I’m not perfect. My intentions were never malicious. But I am human. I still think of all the great stories from the past and I smile.

I’ve learned to tell people how much they mean to me. I was lucky to have spent time with Mark about a month before he died. We spent the night laughing and reminiscing about our younger days. I now know this is how he wants me to remember him. He knows I love him and I know he loves me. Nothing was left unsaid. I found great peace in that.

So here’s what I want all of you to know…I love you! I loved then and I love you now. We may not see each other all the time but you are always in my heart.

My wish for you all is that you take one thing from what I’ve learned and apply it to your life. Reach out to an old friend and have lunch or make that overdue phone call. Let go of wondering why friendships didn’t last and just smile and be thankful for the memories. And most importantly know how incredibly blessed you are to be have these people in your life for as long as you have them.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment