How many acquaintances have you had in your life? How many of them would you really just call a friend?
Throughout our lives we meet people that we feel connected too. Whether it is the class clown that kept the Spanish class awake, or the girl behind us in 4th period Geometry that was just nice to talk too. They gave us memories and made an impression. As it goes, life takes us in different directions and we lose touch, but will always remember these great times or how that person made us feel. When we think of the memories, we can still feel that connection.
As we navigate adulthood and careers, the realization that we spend more time with the ones we work with then our families really sinks in. Our coworkers become "work husbands and work wives" or therapist and a good friend. We consider them important to us, but how many times are you inviting them to your home for dinner? How many nights do you meet them out with your spouse to grab a drink? Usually not too often or even ever. To no fault of our own, it just doesn't always happen, and maybe because we take for granted they will be there on Monday again.
A few weeks after Dan's passing, I remember thinking about his friends. I'm talking about the friend I only knew of from a funny story that happened in the middle of a shift, or the friend that met him for coffee after a night full of calls and of course the cop that always showed up to make sure the medics were ok.
How were they feeling? Who is making sure they are talking and dealing with his death in a healthy way? I wonder if they feel helpless. Do they want to do something but don't know what because the family may not know who they are, even though they had a close relationship with Dan?
This really consumed me for a while. I felt so bad and wanted them, whoever they were, to know, you are not forgotten.
If you are the friend that doesn't know what to do or say, here is my best advice from my heart. Show up, introduce yourself and tell the best story you have of their loved one! Bonus points if you write it down, so when the brain fog lifts, they will still have this memory forever.
Death, expected or not, shakes us.
Don't label yourself as "Just the Friend".
Friends and coworkers hurt too, and the family knows that. When you show up with the story and memory, you will be more than "Only the Friend" .
Below I have attached My Top 3 Tips...
There is no scientific evidence to back these, just my experience of being on the receiving end, what I appreciated and what I have done for others since.
My heart goes out to all the friends that just don't know how to help... I see you!
I hope putting words to thoughts gives you a little guidance through difficult times.