I lost my best friend in December. It was sudden, shocking, and left a huge gaping hole in my life. It was hard to function at first, since everywhere I looked, I saw her. Over 25 years of friendship there were a lot of memories, photos and gifts…everything reminded me of her. I’ve finally reached a point now where those memories make me smile, and it’s all because I finally allowed myself to honor my my own grief instead of trying to bury it or hide it away.
Grief is a Process
The process of dealing with grief is different for everyone, but one thing remains constant: you should be allowed to grieve the way you need to, and express it in a healthy way. And most people start the grieving process through saying goodbye at a funeral or memorial service. Unfortunately there was none of this being planned for my friend, and all attempts at suggesting such a thing were shot down with anger by one specific person. He was drowning in his own grief, not ready to start the healing process, and not ready to let anyone else start either. It was if he felt we could keep her around by not officially saying goodbye.
Because of this I was stuck. I couldn’t work through my grief because I was too busy trying to be sensitive to his. Out of respect for my friend, I forgave the anger directed at me and others, each time hoping he would come around and realize a change was needed. It was a huge source of anxiety for me every time I sent a message about anything, never knowing if I was going to offend him with my wording. I was afraid to ask any questions or make the slightest hint at planning a memorial. It was eating away at me, not being able to plan anything to honor the memory of my friend. The gaping hole left by her absence needed to be filled with something joyous and meaningful before it swallowed me alive.
Honoring a Memory
The final chance came on her birthday. Since nothing was being planned and her birthday was always something she enjoyed celebrating in a big way, another friend decided to take action. And then another joined in. And when I realized how GOOD it felt to be doing something, I was fully on board with making it all public. It was time we stopped hiding and pretending nothing happened. We can’t change that she’s gone, but we can make damn sure nobody forgets she was here.
I have re-written this paragraph a hundred times. On one hand I feel the need to vent, but on the other I still feel the need to respect other peoples’ grief and not put personal details on a public forum. The birthday memorial went well, though there were repercussions afterward that I won’t go into. But what it made me realize was that it was finally time to move forward with everything that had been weighing me down for months. It was time I did all the things I had been thinking about doing, but was too afraid I’d be stepping on someone’s toes, as if it wasn’t my place to do these things. As if MY grief wasn’t as important as theirs. I was done putting my process on hold. It was time to start healing.
Writing Your Best Friend’s Obituary
There was no obit or death notice ever published in the newspaper, so the first thing I did was sit down and start writing her obituary. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to write, but once it started pouring out of me, so did a lot of pent up sadness and grief. As I wrote, all those tears slowly turned into smiles and laughter as I remembered all the wonderful things that made Meisha, Meisha.
Writing that obituary was like a weight off my soul. I literally felt lighter afterwards. Being able to express all the wonderful things about my friend and sharing it with everyone finally started to fill that hole in my heart. She meant something big to me and a lot of other people, and everyone deserves the chance to say goodbye while still being able to keep her memory alive. So along with the obituary and a memorial page, I started planning a small Celebration of Life for friends and family farther south where she grew up, and created a GoFundMe for a memorial bench in a local park where she had spent time with me and my son. The bench will have an engraved plaque with a dedication and will give people a place to visit and always remember her.
If you would like to read the obit: Meisha Melanie Stoffregen (Werley) Memorial Page
Over the past several days, as I’ve been able to share her story, I feel like each day gets a little better. I’ve had nothing but positive reactions to her obituary and memorial plans. I look back and think of how that’s how it should have been all along. We all should have been able to celebrate the friendship we had and not get punished for it. We were stuck in an extended period of grief, unable to work through it and say our goodbyes. And now we can finally all come together, celebrate someone we all loved, say our goodbyes, and find some peace in our hearts.