How to Get Over the Loss of a Friendship

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Recovering from the loss of a friendship is difficult and painful. When a friend holds a special place in our lives and we share secrets, hopes, and dreams, a loss affects every part of us spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

In my experience, I have found there is no shortcut to healing from the loss of a friendship. Losing a friend is hard and recovery can take a long time.

When we lose a friend due to a change in circumstances, conflict, or death, there is a hole in our heart that was once occupied by their presence in our life.

When a Close Friendship Ends

When I was in grade school, I had two best friends-Vickie and Milisa-one lived on the left of my house and the other on the right.

We played records, Candy Land, hopscotch, and jump rope. We rode banana seat bikes and bought ice cream from the man in the dingy van with a bell.

These neighbors were my first best friends, and they were special to me. I still have vivid memories of our time together.

Everything was perfect in our small world, and I never dreamed our close friendship would end until the day Vickie’s family moved. I remember they bought a nice, new brick house about 20 minutes away from our neighborhood.

In my young mind, Vickie could have moved to another country. I saw Vickie once or twice after her family moved and then we lost touch.

When a close friendship ends, it is broken…lost. When a friendship ends suddenly, there is an unexpected ache associated with the person’s absence.

Although Milisa and I remained friends and continued to share experiences, I remember the special place in my heart that my short-lived friendship with Vickie held, and the pain I felt when a close friendship ends.

How to Accept a Lost Friendship

My daughter recently experienced a lost friendship at school and mentioned to me, “This feels awful. I hope it never happens again”.

I wish I could have told her that would be the last time she would lose a friend.

It grieved me to tell her that in life lost friendship is inevitable and never gets easy to understand.

With my friend Vickie, when our friendship ended suddenly, it was unnatural to disconnect. Regardless of our age; it is sad to say goodbye to a friend.

For a long time, I naively thought that losing a friend, at least through conflict, was preventable if I did the right thing.

If I was a good, loyal friend then all of my friendships would endure and pain would be avoided.

There are a couple of problems with my thoughts on a lost friendship.

  • First of all, I will say or do the wrong thing and cause someone to be hurt, and I cannot control if they chose to forgive me.
  • Secondly, others may hurt me and I may struggle with moving past it.

Either scenario can end or permanently alter a friendship.

Regardless of our best efforts, there are reasons people choose to end friendships such as unavoidable changes in life or circumstances outside our control.

“Are you grieving a relationship that has deteriorated? Whether it dissolved in a long, tangled mess over the years or conflict erupted out of nowhere, broken relationships hurt. Maybe it felt good to get out of that relationship then, but now, as you lie awake staring at the ceiling, regret begins seeping into your bones.

Maybe you long for reconciliation, but it hasn’t come even after years of praying. Dear child, it is grievous when our actions caused a broken bridge or when those we love don’t respond to our outreached hand.”

Christina Vinson Faithgateway.com

A broken friendship can be very sad and hard to process, but in life, the loss of friendships is also inevitable.

How to accept that a friendship is over:

As difficult as it is to accept that a friendship is over, it doesn’t mean we have to hide behind a wall of pain and close ourselves off from other relationships.

  • we can always recover from the pain of losing a friend
  • we can grow in our love and trust in God
  • we can learn from the loss of friendship and become a better more authentic friend to others.

We can seek out new friends, and embrace the possibility that a new friendship may blossom.

Although it is sometimes inevitable, losing a friend does not reflect our value or ability to be loved by others. God is always our friend and sees and knows our worth. We can move on and find a new place of belonging.

Lady looking into water-Loss of a Friendship

Why Do We Lose Friends? 4 Ways

Why do we lose friends? Although there are as many answers to this question as there are friendships, from my experience, here are four reasons why we lose friends.

  1. We can lose a friend suddenly due to uncontrollable circumstances such as a move or a finished assignment.

If possible, we can continue the friendship in a new way. When we lose a friend to circumstances we still experience loss, but it is not usually connected to deep pain or hurt.

  1. We can lose a friend after one or both people change over time and the friendship naturally fades due to differences in life paths.

It can help us accept the loss of a friendship when we understand that some people come into our lives for a season. Recovery from losing a friend because of slow separation seems less painful because it is not one big loss or blow.

  1. We can lose a friend because of a conflict.

When conflict causes the loss of a friendship it usually causes deep sorrow. When we walk in love and forgiveness it seems losing friends to misunderstandings should not happen, but it does. We are humans working out our salvation day by day, so disappointment, unmet expectations, boundary issues, and unforgiveness lead to the loss of friendships.

It can help us move on after the loss of a friendship if we understand what went wrong. In some situations, it is a simple misunderstanding that can be unpacked and possibly lead to reconciliation. In other situations, we will have to grieve losing a friend.

  1. We can lose a friend due to death.

Losing a friend to death is very painful and very final. We need time to grieve and celebrate the love that was shared and sometimes seek outside counsel.

Nancy Guthrie writes in Hearing Jesus Speak into your Sorrow:

“I don’t know what has brought sorrow into your life. Maybe you too, have stood by a grave and said good-bye. Or maybe you have had to bury your dreams for a future with someone you love… In times of sorrow and disappointment, everything we believe can be called into question, can’t it? Yet if we turn away from God, there really is no other place to go for meaning or peace. Anywhere away from Him is hopelessly dark and empty.”

How do you Get Over the Loss of a Friendship?

When my friend Vickie moved, I was disappointed and sad. She had been an important part of my daily life, but I had to move on and, like most children, rebounded quite quickly.

But as an adult, it is not as quick or painless to get over losing a friend. Here are some thoughts on how do you get over the loss of a friendship:

  • It is easier to process the loss of friendship when it is not connected to a wound.
  • It takes time to get over the loss of a friendship, but when there is no blame and forgiveness is involved, the transition is easier. It requires accepting the change and adapting to a new reality without that friend in your life.
  • Getting over losing a friend due to conflict usually takes longer, but if there is some type of closure, it helps us recover and grow from the experience.

Closure after Losing a Friend

Closure after losing a friend can include a conversation with each other, a note that is either sent or used as a journal for only yourself, or a meeting with a third person to repair or end the friendship in the best possible way.

Closure after losing a friend can be difficult especially when hurt feelings are involved, but it is a necessary part of moving on.

Once you have done everything in your power to reconcile or walk away from the loss of a  friendship, you can begin the healing of your own spirit.

Jesus and Judas Had a Relationship that Was Lost

Jesus’ friendship story brings me hope, comfort, and provides insight. He was a good friend who still experienced great loss and betrayal.

When Jesus walked around with his disciples for three years, He probably created memories and deep attachments. Even Jesus and Judas had a relationship.

I wonder if Jesus knew and saw traits in Judas during their relationship that would prepare Him for the loss of the friendship? Based on scripture, He did.

“But Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

John 13:11 NLT

Even after Judas’ betrayal, Jesus went on to fulfill his purpose on the Cross and extend mercy to those around Him until His last breath.

Despite being in excruciating pain as He hung on a cross wrongly accused, some of His last words were merciful,

  “Jesus said,  “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 NLT

That is remarkable because when I feel betrayed, it is difficult to be gracious as I process my hurt. But as a Christ-follower, I am encouraged and walk in the hope that I can move toward forgiveness and continue to love regardless of the reason for losing a friend.

Lady walking alone-Loss of a Friendship

How to Move on from Losing a Friendship: 5 Steps

Regardless of the reason for the loss of friendship, we can grow and become better at relationships if that is what we desire. If we don’t persevere and learn how to move on from losing a friend, we can stay discouraged and stuck.

Here are 5 steps on how to move on from losing a friendship to help us walk out our healing and recovery and discover the power of mercy:

Step 1: Acknowledge the Loss of a Friendship

When we acknowledge the loss of a friendship and the grief associated with it, we can begin to heal. Sometimes we are tempted to fill the void with another person or thing and don’t commit to walking through the loss. This affects our ability to build and maintain healthy relationships. Our healing, after losing a friend, starts with acceptance.

“My flesh and my heart fail; But  God  is  the strength of my heart and my  portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26 NKJV

Step 2: Pray about the Loss of a Friendship

When we process the loss of a friendship with God through prayer, we grow closer to Him. He replaces our sadness with peace and guidance.

“Lord, be gracious  to us; we long for you. Be our strength  every morning,
our salvation  in time of distress.” Isaiah 33:2 NIV

Step 3: Ask a Trusted Friend for Advice after the Loss of a Friendship

When we ask a trusted friend for advice we can process our thoughts and feelings and get clarity. Losing a friend is difficult but gives us an opportunity to grow closer to another friend.

Lisa-Jo Baker writes in her article 7 Ways for Woman to Find Soul Friends:

“I’m so hungry for conversation with someone who knows me and is interested in me beyond a witty tweet or Facebook update. We talk for hours. I didn’t realize how much I had been needing to say, to process out loud, until someone was willing to listen without rush or deadlines.”

Step 4: Give yourself Time to Heal after the Loss of a Friendship

To give yourself time to heal is a hard step. Patience is not easily acquired especially when we are sitting in a pool of hurt. But time to heal is the only way to truly move on after the loss of a friendship.

“The  Lord  is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

Psalm 34:18 NLT

Step 5: Learn to Forgive after the Loss of a Friendship

Forgiveness is the gift we give to ourselves that brings freedom from current pain and space to love and embrace others in life.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

These 5 steps on how to move on after losing a friend help us experience growth through the loss. We can move forward and release the pain and the person from any debt that can cause us to focus on unhealthy emotions.  

We can cover our feelings of vulnerability with the knowledge that we are loved by God.

Bible Verses to Provide Comfort After the Loss of a Friendship

Reading about characters in the Bible, such as Aaron, Jonathan & Caleb,  who struggled with their relationships helps me gain perspective.

There are also many encouraging Bible verses that speak of the complexity and reward of friendships. Here are a few that have brought me comfort after the loss of a friendship.

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  

John 16:22 NLT

“So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.”

Matthew 5:4 NLT

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

  How to Grow Closer to God & Comfort Others After Losing a Friend

We don’t always know what caused a friendship to end. As we walk through the healing process and gain wisdom, our scars guide us and help us become a better friend.

One great byproduct of losing a friend is we can grow closer to God and our reliance on Him. We are also able to encourage and comfort others who are going through a similar story.

Through our experience of struggle and loss, we can move into current and new friendships with fresh insight and a stronger identity in Christ. This new confidence helps us love and comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Have you recently experienced the loss of a friendship? Would love to hear how God has helped you walk through your experience in the comments.

Mary Rooney Armand

Mary Rooney Armand is a writer and speaker focusing on inspiring faith-based stories. She helps others grow in their intimacy with Christ and thrive in their personal relationships. Mary lives in New Orleans with her husband Cory and four children. Besides writing and speaking, she teaches Bible Studies and leads small groups. Mary has a Master of Business Administration and is a Life Coach. In 2019 she created ButterflyLiving and wrote a Bible Study titled, “Identity” which is available on Amazon. To learn more visit maryarmand.com or email [email protected]

54 thoughts on “How to Get Over the Loss of a Friendship”

      1. Gina, thanks for reading and I hope you found it insightful. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. That is very difficult to walk through and I pray you are blessed with the Lord’s comfort.

  1. wonderful encouragements here. This is something we all have to deal with sooner of later. pinned, schedule on FB page

  2. This is one of the most timely pieces you could have written. I needed this today as we mourn the loss of a friend. Every type of friendship loss is different, and has its own grief. â¤ï¸

  3. My church family lost our really young pastor two years ago. He was not only my pastor. I also considered him a close friend. We also taught school together. It has been hard to adjust, but God is always faithful and gracious and has helped myself and our church family keep going faithfully serving Him! 🙌🏼
    Blessings!

  4. I lost a few friendships but one that impacted me was really hard. But l learnt how to be a better friend. Maybe one day God will bring a close friend like that, until then I will keep asking God to make me that friend. Very good post, thanks Mary!

  5. Hi! Thank you so much for talking about this topic! From my own experience, I can attest that there truly is no way to rush the recovery process. However, there are definitely many healthy ways to mourn, thank you for including them!

  6. I “lost” a friend last year and it still stings. I had to break it off but it was very painful to do so. However, I knew I acted in obedience to God so I took comfort in that. She handled it beautifully and I was grateful for that but on some days, I find myself missing her and spilling quiet tears.

  7. One consistent theme I’ve noticed in my life is when I get close to a girlfriend, she will eventually move away. It just happened again about a year ago. It always hurt my heart, and it didn’t seem to matter whether I had heads up ahead of time or if it was sudden. Thank you for this sweet post. â¤

    1. Donna, I am sorry to hear that. When we lived in Houston for a few years, I lost several friends to moves as well. It is never easy regardless of the reason. Praying you find a new friend soon that sticks around for a while.

  8. Losing friends can be very hard. It is helpful to realize that not everyone who comes in your life is meant to stay. Sometimes, God removes these people from our lives for our own benefit. We must always trust His better judgment, no matter how painful it may be. Blessings, Joni

  9. This article is very awesome. The only best friend that has an everlasting guarantee is Christ, we are all humans, in friendship we can not stay forever whether we like it or not,only God can make a friendship last forever, when we lose friend, it’s not easy to forget about it but God knows what is best for us at any particular point in time.

  10. It is so difficult to deal with the loss of a good friend. One of the best friends I had of 8 years had to come to an end. I did not want it to come to an end. However, it eventually happened. He was like a dear brother to me and really was there for me. What ended the friendship was how toxic and dysfunctional it became. Too the point we almost got into a physical altercation. After 8 years, going through some real struggles in my life.

    We reconnected when my youngest daughter was an infant and he had not changed. My life had changed – for the better. Today, he is angry, bitter and a hardcore atheist. He still carries his own burdens and it is saddening. Yet, I pray for him on occasion that our Heavenly Father restores his faith and relationship with Christ.

  11. Losing a dear friendship is so hard! That void it leaves is the worst, but I love how you brought it back to Christ being our ultimate friend. Only HE can fill that void. He is the true friend that will never hurt us or leave us. Someone once told me that sometimes we have friends for a season and sometimes they are meant for a lifetime!

    1. Elizabeth, Sometimes losing a friend that you still have to see is the hardest. I am sorry that happened to you and pray you will find comfort in your relationship with Jesus and other friends.

  12. I’ve lost friendships through all four ways you’ve mentioned, and I’ve mourned through each loss. I appreciate your perspective and your words of hope.

  13. Thanks for this sweet & comforting post. It is so true that losing a friend doesn’t reflect our true value or our ability to be loved by God or others! We need to remind ourselves of this sometimes!

  14. I saw this post and was excited for two reasons. One because you wrote it (I have been following your writing for a while now and am always so encouraged by it) and two because this has ALWAYS been a struggle for me. Which is odd because so many of my friendship are born in church yet I always seem to be the one to take the knife to the back. We moved a couple years ago and I was so hesitant to get back involved in church. But I have met amazing friends and God has been doing a lot of mending in my life. I’m thankful. Thanks for the biblical paper trail you’ve left here! I will be saving this.

  15. Losing a friend can be hurtful, especially when it ends poorly. Giving yourself time to grieve and allowing God to heal helps to keep our hearts open to other wonderful friendships.

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  20. Great insights on friendship and grief when there is loss. I appreciate your vulnerability, Mary. Your blog post spurs me forward in communicating with friends that I moved away from two years ago. I have been writing them once a month, but I was recently wondering if I should continue sending them letters. This post is an encouragement to keep being intentional and sowing into these dear friends. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Mary Rooney Armand

      Lisa, thank you so much for reading and for your encouragement! I love to write about friendship. I hope you reconnect with your friends!

  21. Thank you for sharing this post with Grace & Truth. Losing a friend is hard. I used to believe all friendships were meant to last for life. So when they didn’t, I didn’t know how to process it. I have learned since then. I even recognize some relationships are only for a season.

    Oh my goodness, I never thought about the friendship Jesus and Judas must have had or the loss Jesus endured by the loss. I always saw the betrayal but not the loss. Thank you for pointing that out.

    Sharing your article on Pinterest. It is excellent.

    1. Mary Rooney Armand

      Maree, so thankful I found Grace & Truth! Thank you for reading and your added insight. I love to write and talk about friendship; a precious gem in life!

  22. Mary, thank you for this thoughtful piece. After 65 years, so many friends have come and gone, for all kinds of reasons. Letting each of them go, wishing them well and meaning it, has been the only way for me to move on.
    Thankfully, God continues to send people into our lives. I’m so grateful. And happy to meet you on this Valentine’s Day evening!

    1. Mary Rooney Armand

      LInda, thanks for reading! It sounds like you
      have a lot of wisdom. I too have learned so much & love to share about relationships which are a special part of life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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