A women releasing lantern into the night sky

Thoughts About the Loss of a Loved One or Friend

Last updated: August 2021

Several months ago, I received a sad email notifying me that a fellow nursing colleague had passed away. Rosemary was the one of several colleagues who had been diagnosed with cancer. She valiantly battled multiple myeloma for over eleven years. For the rest of the day, I found myself sad and unable to concentrate. Life seemed unfair. Rosemary had received chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant, but never complained. She was always upbeat and willing to help anyone.

When she discovered that I too had cancer, she was most supportive, her gentle smile conveyed sincere caring. Losing a loved one or friend is never easy. It is important to keep your sense of perspective while maintaining your friend or loved one’s memory. Loss is an incredible blow to the body and mind. It takes a long time to even wrap your head around the absence of the person you once knew. It is ok to have feelings of deep sadness, numbness, detachment and anger. One may also experience survivors guilt, as you are alive and your friend or loved one is not. I found that you must acknowledge it and give yourself time to process it.

Tips for coping with loss

Here are some strategies to help deal with the loss and retain their memory alive in your heart.

  • Think of the good times. Remember memories of the things you shared together.
  • Accept help from others. Talk with friends and family.
  • Do things that remind you of your friend or loved one. Rosemary had a very dry sense of humor, I would remember her comments and smile.
  • Allow yourself to feel sad. The loss of a friend or loved one affects each of us in a different way. It is painful but eventually will lessen.
  • Try to get enough rest and sleep. You may consider soothing, relaxing music or relaxation tapes if you find it difficult to sleep.
  • Try not to isolate yourself. Do things you like to take your mind off the pain of loss. Distracting your thoughts for a while will not make you forget your friend or loved one. Dwelling on your pain will not honor your friend or loved one’s memory. Instead, remember your friend or loved one as you enjoy your life as he/she would have wanted you to do.
  • Consider doing something in your friend’s honor. Rosemary suffered from multiple myeloma, so I plan to participate in the “Light the Night” walk in her memory, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I am sure that there will still be tears when I think of Rosemary as she will be sadly missed. The above strategies have personally helped me through this grieving process. I will think of the positive contributions Rosemary has made to my life and try to make similar contributions to the lives of others. I will be grateful that I awoke this morning feeling well. Spread your smile as you go about your day, it can help someone else and make you feel better as well.

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