A few weeks ago I hosted a meeting at my home of some of the women who had shared their stories of love and loss at Friendship Dialogues. I had been thinking about this get-together for a while and was looking forward to creating a Friendship Circle for women who had been through the very same life-altering experience as I had — the loss of their best female friend.
I thought a lot about how to organize the day and as is my tendency, I planned over a dozen questions to ask to start and keep the conversation going. Well, I quickly found out that when you get eight women together with a common bond you don’t have to work hard to create dialogue. For three hours we talked steadily, then we gathered for a meal and continued the conversation for a couple of hours more.
It’s hard to resurrect five hours of conversation, but what stays with me is the sense that a gathering like this provided a refuge in the common grief we shared. Despite the fact that most of us were strangers, there was a connection that the group shared that made it easy to talk openly, weep together and also laugh at the funny things we all had done with our best friends. One woman said she felt there were shards of her departed best friend in everyone. She also said, “Even though none of you knew her, all of us having that primary loss in common helped me reconnect with my grief.” Another woman found the experience too raw. She said, “It was like a scab had come off.” Listening to others express their more recent grief brought too much of the old pain back. She did say that writing down her story for the website was different. “The written word is immortal,” she added, and it gave her relief.
So while most of us got comfort from the Friendship Circle discussion, it can open up old wounds for some. Still, I would recommend grief gatherings where women can share their stories of friendship and also their pain when those precious friendships are taken away by death. There are many ways to get support when you lose a family member, but while friends can be as dear—or more dear—than family, there are no prescribed rituals for mourning this devastating loss. A Friendship Circle, I sincerely believe, is a good way to start. Writing your friendship story is another powerful way to deal with your loss and I encourage any woman who has a story to share about the loss of her best friend to do so at Friendship Dialogues.