Friendship articles

Requiem For a Friend

Requiem For a Friend

Sally Melita Griffiths (15 May 1960 – 12 August 2010)

It is a strange thing to lose a friend and suddenly realise how little you knew about the other people they were in contact with.

Sally Griffiths was always my ideal friend. We didn’t live in each other’s pockets or need to be on the phone every evening, but when we got together it was as if we hadn’t seen each other for, oh, five minutes or so! It was only when I heard that she was dead, that I suddenly realised how little I knew about her other friends. Over the years she mentioned names and activities, but I only met a few of her friends and I suspect that she may have had several groups of friends who didn’t overlap at all.

Her funeral is to be a family only affair and I am suddenly in the position of wanting to be there for her one more time, but having to respect their wishes and stay away. I understand their reasoning, it is a time of shock and horror, but it leaves me with little recourse other than trying to contact other people who knew her in order to hold some sort of celebration of her life.

I suppose I am looking for something practical to do. Her death was unexpected – more so because she was a spiritual and grounded person with so much to live for. Her choice leaves everyone else gasping for breath and shocked to the core.

The questions when something like this happens run round and round in your mind. ‘Could I have helped?’ ‘Was there anything I could have done?’ ‘When I visited her the day before she died, was she actually there and just not answering the door or her phones?’

Some people have friends who all live in the same area and have the same interests. They go to parties together, phone each other every day and share movie nights with a bottle of wine. Sally and I had our own interests. While I was doing the Open University, Sally was learning aromatherapy, studying astrology and moving on with her Reiki attunements. She mentioned people she had met and studied with, but the names meant little to me. I was more focused on the events she had taken part in than the names of people I didn’t know.

After twenty-two years of friendship I suddenly realise that Sally and I were special. Our bond was loose but strong. We met at work and got talking about our shared love of cats. From there a friendship built that worked for both of us. I expected our friendship to last forever. In my mind I always had a vision of us as old ladies. I actually feel cheated.

My partner and I have lost a few friends over the years to cancer and heart disease – things that make sense of a kind. But this makes no sense to me yet.

Suicide is the one thing that can’t be attributed to one cause, can’t be seen and can’t be prevented if someone really feels the time is right. I saw a documentary about Hunter S Thompson recently and he felt it was his right to decide the time of his death. However, his family knew this and accepted the possibility. When someone you have known for years, someone with a spiritual background, decides to die, it leaves a mountain of questions and no answers. Because of her diverse groups of friends I fear there may be people who never find out what happened to her and they will be left wondering. I know she wouldn’t have wanted that, but at some point her own needs were paramount, perhaps for the first time.

I may be rambling here, the shock is still too fresh and raw. I wonder how we come to terms with such a loss. I hope that I can reach people who knew her and gather together some of the threads of her life, but without even names I am struggling even before I begin.

All I can see to do right now is to get her name on the internet and hope that people will find it and contact me. It seems so little to show for 22 years of friendship and I suddenly feel that perhaps our special friendship wasn’t enough.

I know you can’t beat yourself up when something like this happens. Reasons for such actions are rarely clear to outsiders and it is hard to imagine such desperation in someone you love, but deep down I will always feel that I failed her in some way.

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