Making Friends While Grieving: It Can be Hard!

There are a lot of reasons why making friends can be hard.

It’s exhausting: Meeting new people means telling your same life story over and over. It means going out sometimes when you do. not. want to. And though it doesn’t mean being fake or happy all of the time, it requires energy that simply gets used up trying to make plans, show up for plans, and be present with someone new.

It can mean some rejection: When someone you’re meeting has their own friends they might be less inclined to call you up or call you back. This is stupid and shitty! But something that I’ve just had to tell myself is that I’m not going to be besties with everyone I meet.

And it’s expensive: When you think about your best friends, you realize that what you spend a lot of your time doing is just chillin’. You can sit at home on the couch, just drive around in your car, or sit in a cafe for hours without having to do anything “special”. One thing my partner and I realized when we moved to Vancouver was that we practically needed to budget in cash every month just to “grab a coffee” with 10 people so that we could make 1 real friend.

If you’re grieving, that adds an extra layer of stress and exhaustion on top.

You might feel like you don’t wanna leave the house but can’t become a hermit. Your anxiety is already high from the stress of grief, and making friends is an anxiety-inducing process. And maybe you’re not sure if you can talk or cry about your loss with new friends, but it can be tiring to hold in.

Here are a few things that I have to remind myself of constantly - even two years into the process of making friends in a new city.

It's fuckin' hard, so give yourself a break!

Unless you're a young kiddo at school making all of your friends for the first time, it's going to be hard - because the older we get, the more likely we all are to already have our own established troop of ride or dies. And as a person who is grieving away from fam and friends, it can make it super hard to break into a new posse. So give yourself a break, take it slow, and rely on the group chat when you need to. 

It's okay to not be BEST friends with EVERYONE you meet.

I had crazy expectations that my new friends here were going to be as badass, as close, and as perfect as my og friends. That's not going to be the case though, because the relationship you can build after having two coffees with someone can't be compared to ten (or 20, in my case) years of fostering a friendship. It can still be really, really helpful to get out and have those two cups of coffee, especially if what you need is someone who will just chat through the latest episode of Riverdale or give you recos for fun recipes to try. The level of relationships can span the spectrum, so embrace that fact and let some encounters just be basic for the sake of spending time being basic.

Being open about your loss can help in some cases.

I've had to learn that it's not "weird" or "creepy" or "annoying" to talk about my mom, whether or not someone says it is. If what you need in your friendships right now is people who can get real with you, then at some point be willing to get real with them. It's allowed me to find the people who will open up about similar loss and not just dip when I wanna talk about life stuff.

Alica Forneret