Former Relationship

I lost a friend 15 years ago and after talking about it again with a friend I hadn’t seen for years, the sense of loss hit me with much greater force than before and I don’t seem to be able to find a way out.
The friend was someone I was very much in love throughout my childhood, but never had a chance to tell her properly. We had wavered on going out but I never really knew how to contact her - only discovering later that we had very close mutual friends. I lost contact with her and she died only a few years later, in her late teens - although I didn’t hear about it for several more years. I feel devastated. I recently contacted her mother after years of searching and she suggested that if I had told her what I felt, she might not have stayed in Birmingham where she died in an accident. It was meant nicely and affirmed at least a little that we might have had something, but also reinforces a sense of guilt/regret that I should have done more. I’ve never got over her death, but now with a wife and family I don’t feel I can talk about a past relationship, though I feel like I’m falling apart inside. I still can’t believe she’s gone or how to continue in the world when such wonderful lights in the world die so early .

Welcome to the community @AndrewClarke, it’s great to have you here.

I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a friend that was someone you loved deeply can be really difficult to go through and you’ve taken a positive step reaching out here for support. It’s understandable to hear that after speaking with you friend, these feelings of loss have resurfaced. The sense of guilt you mentioned is something many people experience after they’ve lost someone close to them. You’re not to blame for what happened and you’re not alone in this. We’re all here to support you anytime you need someone to talk to.

You mentioned that you feel like you’re falling apart inside, can you tell us a bit more about how you’ve been coping through this?

You might like to have a read through some posts from other members who have experienced something similar. I’ve linked one here .

You may also find this article about disenfranchised grief helpful to have a read through which relates to a lot of the grief you mentioned in your post.

I hope you find it helpful and please do keep reaching out to us.

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Thank you. I feel like such a mess. I love my wife, but she completely doesn’t understand how I can be so upset after such an apparent long delay (though in truth it’s always been at the back of my mind), also is quite keen to know when I am talking to our mutual friends about her - making it feel difficult to express myself. I understand her anxiety, given that it is a former relationship but it’s feels like I’m constantly having to second guess myself. At the same time I feel such sadness that this woman died so young (it was early twenties, not late as I’d accidentally written above) , confusion over whether we did really have a relationship then, regret at my own choices and guilt that if I had been more brave and told her what I felt then maybe she wouldn’t have died years later on. This is of course why my wife is anxious, and all of which means I am struggling maintaining the work I do as the only wage earner. It feels like such a mess.
Thank you, I will read the articles you sent me.

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Our situations aren’t the same, but I know what it’s like to be filled with regret and to not be able to grieve openly for fear of upsetting other people. Although it’s called “disenfranchised grief” I don’t think it necessarily helps to label how you feel in that way, certainly it didn’t help me. I found that legitimising my grief by speaking with a counsellor really helped; I can’t recommend it enough. This site helps too. A theme from this site, well my observation anyway, is that everyone has ‘what-ifs’… what if I’d called, what if I’d started CPR earlier, what if I’d made him/her see the doctor etc… the what ifs are totally natural. We all have them. As is the guilt & confusion and loneliness. I am in work full time and know what it’s like to have to hold it all together; make sure you take time for yourself - a walk, a run, a drive… whatever it is you enjoy doing… it really helps. Take care and keep talking. X

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Thank you so much, that reflection genuinely really helps.

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