Feel Distant from Deceased Friend

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My friend died earlier 2011 of suicide; only a few months into the year as a matter of fact. I met her in September 2009 my senior year of High School, and spent time with her every day or every other day, for varying lengths of the day (sometimes a whole class -we had gym for the first half of that school year- and some 5 minute periods before and after the last class, sometimes only those 5 minute periods). We also saw each other at dances and such. And we became close friends, and I eventually considered her a best friend. And, as a matter of fact, had feelings for her beyond friends. We hung out together throughout my Senior year, though it became less in the second half the year (we no longer had gym the second half, though we still met before and after the last two classes of the day with our group of friends, and eventually that half of the year I went to her lunch period to spend time). I took this girl to prom (though nothing intimate occurred as we were not dating), was with her at 3 graduation parties (one being my own), and a few other event though not more than maybe 2. Once I graduated was when we steadily stopped seeing each other. I kept in touch on Facebook, and Texted what I thought at the time was quite a lot (I believe it was once a week or once every two weeks at least), but whenever I asked to hangout, they were always busy. I still considered her close and important friend for all that happened in that year I knew her, because we had gotten very close. This period after we stopped seeing one another at all is the Fall and Winter of 2010. I still tried to keep in touch via text, though today, I’m not sure whether those amounted too much more than “Can you hangout?” “Not this week, sorry.” “Ok.” which I’m frightened may be true, though part of me also wants to say that while some of the texts were like that, many many others were me striking up conversations and asking how her day or week was.

I was working on making things better, and repairing the relationship and trying to see her as frequently the spring and summer of 2011 as I had the spring and summer of 2010, and that was my plan. And then they passed away a couple months into this year. This emotionally crippled me for a long time. I considered this girl like my sister, and someone I loved both like a sister, and romantically. My summary of our relationship here is limited, so it doesn’t explain the scope of every moment, but if what I say of us here looks limited, I will say our time together at least felt like quite a lot.
And in the months afterward up until now, I had the feeling of dearly missing her, and hurting at her loss, but viewing her as someone who was a dear and close friend I knew for a long time who loved me and who I loved.

But recently, things just feel wrong. I feel distant from her. And I fear maybe it wasn’t all I thought it was. I look through the calendar, and we knew each other from September of 2009 up to March of 2011. And that time looks so short, and because of that, it feels so small. Of that time, I factor in that we only spent a portion of the day together, sometimes not every day when we were in High School from September 2009 to June 2010, and we didn’t see one another except for special occasions after that until maybe August, after which we didn’t see each other at all. I saw her for 10-minute periods in January and February of 2011, but that was all. And I thought before I made up for not seeing her by keeping in touch on Facebook and Texting, but I realize I perhaps only posted 20 times on her Facebook if that, and as I brought up previous I fear perhaps my texting mostly equated to asking her to visit me rather than anything of substance. With that in account, I have the sinking feeling maybe we weren’t that much of friends at all. I know I thought we were before, and it felt like we were, but it seems so little. I feel numb over all this emotionally. And it leaves me feeling perhaps like I don’t have the right to mourn if it didn’t amount to much at all, and if I do it’s more as the kid who had one class with her or something rather than a close friend. I don’t like this, because even if they’re gone, I want the feelings of that love and closeness I felt before to remain.

I need to know how to cope with this (the feeling distant and feeling like we really weren’t close is what I mean specifically), and maybe if I shouldn’t fret as much as I am over all this.

A: Thank you for writing about the grief from the loss of your friend. When we lose someone important to us it can be heartbreaking and very confusing. It is a challenge for us to stay on course with our lives and our feelings.

Typically the kind of loss you are talking about is helped by talking about these feelings with a grief counselor. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you get locate a person in your area.

What I can tell you is that your feelings make sense to me. The confusion about what to feel and reviewing your relationship is very common following this kind of loss. I highly recommend finding a grief counselor for a short bit of therapy to help you sort things through.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Feel Distant from Deceased Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/02/feel-distant-from-deceased-friend/