Do you have memories of being a little girl at school and having a friend tell you that she didn’t want to be your friend anymore? It usually had to do with the fact that another friend spoke to you; you liked a boy they did; you were playing with a toy they wanted; you wore the wrong color on the wrong day; or maybe you breathed wrong. Who knows what spurred their decision to part ways. Sadly, many of us have dealt with that kind of disappointment. We may have even observed that kind of behavior continue to play out in raising our little girls, too. Not too long ago my nine-year-old daughter, Reagan, came home talking about how a friend had told her that she wasn’t her friend. I felt sad and helpless to see such hurt in her eyes.

However, I don’t think we ever become immune to that pain, or the ending of relationships, even as adults. I’ve had several relationships as an adult that just sort of fizzled out and we stopped calling, texting, or spending time together. I’ve also had relationships that came to a screeching halt, and those have been the most painful to deal with.

Have you ever heard the saying about people coming into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime? Yeah, well that may be true, but dealing with the reasons and seasons when they end sometimes just sucks. It is a truly hurtful, painful, sorrowful, time of growth when friendship hands you divorce papers.

This scenario recently happened to me. I don’t take friendship lightly and I’m pretty guarded with whom I let in my inner circle, so dealing with this “divorce” has been a process that I wasn’t quite ready for or prepared to walk through. It caught me off guard and has made me reevaluate the entire friendship. And it forced me to take a long hard look at my role in the relationship. Ironically, I found myself clinging to the comforting words I’d offered my young daughter when this happened to her. I’d encouraged her to really analyze what her role in the disagreement was and see where she could learn something. After I processed this situation I thought I’d share some of the tools that helped me deal with this sudden loss.

I would like to shed some light on some ways of dealing with it, if and when it happens to you. First, and I think most importantly, it is imperative to not be too prideful to offer a heartfelt apology (even if you think you are free and clear of any wrongdoing). Swallowing pride never choked anyone, but clutching that pride can leave you alone and empty if you aren’t careful. I think reducing all of your self-interests and personal biases and trying your best to see the situation from their perspective is crucial if there is any opportunity for reconciliation. This also allows you to prepare for the chance that there may not be a reconciliation.

Second, maintain your integrity. You will be a better person for it. Continue to guard your former friend’s secrets, insecurities, and even their identity. Don’t use your friends, mutual friends, or social media as a chance to air their dirty laundry or talk poorly of them. Retaliating in a childish way to hurt someone else may make you feel better in the brief moment you get your first “like”, but you will venture into territory that is best to remain unchartered.

Third, don’t allow yourself to get into “the battle”. Name calling, finger pointing, and trying to one-up each other’s flaws will be an endless source of frustration. And, really, what’s the point? It’s not a situation where anyone can ever come out a winner, so why even try. Have you ever been in or seen an argument where insults are thrown and the target of them actually stops and says, “You know what? You’re RIGHT!”? When hurtful insults get flown your way, I recommend responding with, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and removing yourself from the situation. Take the high road.

Last, don’t let them tear you down. Don’t dismiss what they say; but consider their words and ask yourself if the motivation was to hurt you or to really help you develop your character. If there is some truth to what is being said and you have an opportunity for improvement; then take it in and do something about being a better person. If not then, again, an “I’m sorry you feel that way,” will do.

If you are currently in a situation where this has happened to you; then I can understand what you are going through… and I’m sorry.

Don’t use this as an opportunity to be bitter and spiteful; instead, use it as a chance to grow and be a better person.