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Losing a Friend is Not Only Heartbreaking – It’s Life Changing

Losing a Friend is Not Only Heartbreaking – It’s Life Changing

By Bart Astor

My wife and I suffered the loss of a best friend.

We are profoundly saddened and feel enormous grief for her husband. All of us miss terribly the person we knew and loved for some 30 years. But we realize too, that we miss not only her, but also the future we will no longer have together.

That’s an unwelcomed life change.

The four of us traveled together extensively. Every year we embarked on what came to be known as our “Ski and Sea” trip – a week skiing followed by a week in the sun, generally in the Caribbean. Sometimes we even went directly from the snow to the sea, which made for some interesting packing decisions. The four of us celebrated just about every holiday, birthday, and anniversary together. We lived close by so getting together for dinner on a Saturday was a common occurrence. Even our occupations overlapped so table talk was often sprinkled with shop talk. We were truly family in the most intimate sense of the word.

What we now mourn is the loss of our future…

The past will always be with us. What we now mourn is the loss of our future, one that will no longer include one fourth of the “us.” Going on vacation will mean the three of us or going with someone else at times – and we all know it’s hard to find people you can travel with successfully. Holidays and special occasion dinners will never be at her house with her serving as hostess. Her death means that my life has changed. I guess that’s what it means when someone says a part of you dies when a loved one goes. The part of me that died with her is my future.

Getting older means we lose people close to us. We will outlive those who succumb to diseases and accidents. It will happen more and more and each loss will be heartfelt.

At our age now, we have already lost many dear friends and family. Both my wife and I have lost our parents, but that’s to be expected. My father died at 96 after a wonderful and fulfilled life. Our other three parents died at younger ages but again, it’s the normal turn that the older generation leaves us. I’m now a member of that older generation and though I’m considerably south of my 90s, when I die the next generation will say the same thing, namely, that it’s the normal turn of events. Hopefully it won’t be for a long while and hopefully the kids will also be able to say that I lived a fulfilled life.

But my friend was a peer, not of the older generation.

That makes her death very different. She wasn’t the first—indeed, my first loss was as a 6-year old who lost a classmate. A few others died throughout the years. And when I got into my fifties and sixties, more and more friends got sick and died. But never did I lose someone so close to me, someone with whom I had so much history. And most importantly, someone I would have had many experiences and adventures with in the future.

I mourn her loss and grieve for the loss I will endure for the rest of my life.

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Bart Astor

Bart Astor at Bart Astor
Bart Astor is a recognized expert in life’s transitions and eldercare. His book, AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices about Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle, and Pursuing Your Dreams, was released in May, 2013 and was #1 in Amazon’s retirement planning category for 6 consecutive weeks and a Washington Post best seller. His unexpected personal journey led him to write his best-selling book, Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, now in its second printing and critically regarded for being today’s must-have healthcare resource. Bart has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” PBS’s “MarketPlace,” Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money,” AARP Radio, and Boomer’s Rock radio. His perspective comes from personal experience, both good and bad, and sometimes that’s what matters most.