Saturday, 11 October 2014

Bereavement and friendship groups

When Mum and Dad were killed I was 17 and I was in year 12 at school. I was a fairly typical teenager in that I had four really close friends and a much larger number of casual friends. During term time the five of us would go out almost every Saturday evening and during the school holidays we would usually also meet up at least one time during the week.

After the accident all this changed and it is only now, nearly five years later, that I feel comfortable writing about what went wrong.  I'm not going to name names - it would be petty and hurtful and wouldn't change anything.

Person A - Five can be a rather awkward number in social situations - especially when the five is made up of two pairs and a singleton. Four of us were studying A Level science but "A" wasn't and this meant I saw less of her than the other members of what I saw as "my group". In the horrible first few weeks after the accident "A" totally blanked me at every opportunity and we never had a proper conversation again. Quite literally never. I found out somewhat later that she had been bad-mouthing me as an "attention seeking prima donna" from the day I returned to school and that she had been warned semi-officially about her behaviour by the Head of the Sixth Form. In fairness to my other friends they never joined in this nastiness and "A" soon stopped being part of their group.

"A" started a degree course at Warwick - dropped out in the first term and re-started on a different degree course at Coventry the following year. She is currently a third year - so one year behind me. We have a few friends in common but never communicate directly.

"B" and "C" had been friends since starting primary school. So by the time I got to know them they had been best friends for nearly ten years. They both helped me, as best they could, when my disaster struck but like most folk they were very uncomfortable dealing with death. I pretty much withdrew from social life for 8 or 9 months after the accident and it took a while to re-establish the really close friendship we had had previously. When I moved out of Granddad's house and back into the family home they - and their parents - were lovely and supported me in all sorts of ways.

They both graduated the same time as me, summer 2014, and both seem to have found jobs without too much trouble working in the manufacturing sector. We are still in regular contact.

"D" was probably my best friend in years 9, 10, 11 and 12. But we gradually drifted apart towards the end of our time at school. She discovered the wonderful world of boys and spent almost all her free time outside lessons draped around him. She then dropped out of the Saturday night trips with the girls, preferring his company, and so apart from sitting next to her in lessons we didn't have much of a friendship left. She isn't on any social media group that I use so I don't know much about what happened next. I have seen her in town twice in the last few months, just to say "Hi" to, so she is still around.

What I never managed to do after the accident was to make any new friends at school. I felt I was constantly battling just to carry on and so I didn't have much time or inclination to go looking for new friends. Others in my year group were rather wary of getting involved with my problems so none of them made the first move. This meant that I had a fairly lonely time until I went off to university.

Then of course things got much, much better! :)

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