How to Grieve a Friend♥

This post is very personal and it has taken me months to write this and even longer to actually post. Months of painsomnia suddenly with no one to turn to for random silly conversations or heart to hearts at 3am like we had done for the past four years. More than two years now without what we called our “no sleep club,” And many moments of still not feeling like it’s real. But it is. Normally you’d be one of the first people to read anything I wrote before I posted it which I guess in a way you sort of still have been.. I love you Tara and I’m so thankful I met you. I’ll miss you until I see you again. This ones for you, T. ♥

The perfect quote from our favorite show, Greys Anatomy.

Losing a friend is hard. Losing a friend to chronic illness feels impossible to bear. We make friends who share our illnesses because those people understand what our everyday lives look like. They can understand better than anyone else the frustrations of the day to day dealing with a body that seems determined to fail you. They understand you on a level that cannot truly be described. They are there for you when you simply need to be upset about how unfair it is that you have these illnesses and everything they have taken from you. But they are also there to make you feel normal. These friendships go so far beyond your illnesses. They help you feel less alone when you are stuck at home or in the hospital because you know they are there for you to talk to. They help you feel like you are a part of the world again because you don’t have to physically go anywhere to talk to them. It doesn’t matter if they are in New York or the whole way in New Zealand. You are able to spend hours upon hours simply talking and getting to know each other and then discover you have so much more in common than the illnesses that you share. These friends help you feel less alone when things are falling apart. Spoonie friendships are often intense because we really do go through so much together. They are some of the only people you feel truly comfortable calling up on the phone to have a complete breakdown because you know they get it. We feel comfortable telling each other things that you couldn’t necessarily tell the healthy people in your life without making them worry. We also know they won’t be scared by what we tell them and if they are they take that fear and turn it into comfort and reassurance because they know that’s what they would need and have needed at times from you. They become your life line and you theirs. These friendships are one of the silver linings when it comes to being chronically ill. These friendships feel like such a rare and incredible gift maybe to make up for all the health crap you all have to deal with.

One of the perks of having a friendship mostly through social media is all the memories ♥

So what do you do when the same thing that brought you together is also the thing that takes them away? When the illness that first caused you to add them as a friend is the reason they are no longer here. The diseases you shared and bonded over and that led to this beautiful friendship causes their death. Your heart breaks. You suddenly have to adjust to a whole new normal. There is no longer a person on the other side of that messenger app to respond to all your random messages. Your heart breaks for the family that you know they loved so much but had no choice but to leave behind. Your heart breaks because you watched them battle so fiercely but that fight doesn’t seem to matter. You get mad because they are supposed to be here now. They are supposed to be here with you battling these diseases. You get mad because they deserved so much better. They deserved so many more years of life. They deserved to have the chance to accomplish all the things they planned. Their family deserved so much more time with them. Their family who fought beside them and never gave up. It’s not fair. You get mad that you have to watch your friend be buried because medical research hasn’t been able to find a cure for these rare diseases. She is only one of so many young chronically ill patients dying because no one has any treatments. You get mad that these diseases managed to take yet another thing from your life. You question everything. Why her? Why now? She tried all the treatments options given to her, experimental and otherwise. She fought and fought and fought for a better quality of life. You become scared. It’s hard now to not constantly worry that you could lose another friend at any moment to these diseases because you never expected to lose her so suddenly. It’s hard not to consider that it could have been you. It’s hard to not be the overbearing friend constantly checking up on your friends. It’s also hard to stop yourself from pushing certain friendships away because you wonder if it’s better to protect yourself so you don’t have to feel the pain again. But you’ve watched so many in the spoonie community pass away and it will take time for that anxiety and fear to lessen. You just have to make sure to enjoy them now. Enjoy the friendship you have and the blessings that friendship brings to your life.

Eventually, you accept. You accept that even though it sucks not having her here and you miss her so much, she had a faith in God that was undeniable. You know that she is in Heaven now, free of pain. Free of the constraints that her illnesses put on her. Selfishly you will always be wishing she was still physically here to fight alongside you but you know her spirit is with you. And having her spirit here with you makes you want to fight harder. For her. For yourself. For all the others that have lost their lives because there isn’t enough research and for all the others also battling these illnesses every day with a smile on their face. You accept that even though you wish it didn’t, life will keep going. And you can now start to look back on all the memories and smile instead of crying because you were blessed with a beautiful friendship with a beautiful person who would want you to live your life to the fullest. You now have even more appreciation for everything and everyone because you have no idea when any of it could be taken away. And now you get to see her in everything. You know she is still with you because of the way the cardinals linger in your yard or that sudden feeling of peace that just comes over you once in a while. There are so many moments that simply cannot be explained where something she bought you or a memory suddenly appears at the exact moment you need her most. Through her passing she has also gifted you with some beautiful new friendships to make sure you are not alone since she can no longer physically be here. But you’ve learned at the end of the day, no matter where she is, you will always be able to feel her love. Your friend has simply turned into your very own guardian angel.❤️

In Loving Memory of Tara Elizabeth McDonald-Wardlaw

January 3, 1987 – May 20, 2019 ♥

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