And Suddenly, They’re Gone: Reflections From The Unexpected Loss Of Friends

When was the last time you reached out to check on a dear friend?

In our lifetime, we meet many people and form friendships. They could be our neighbors, our classmates, our colleagues or someone we met from parties and other social gatherings. When we were younger, we spent time with our friends as often as possible. We would go to bars on weekends, travel together during holidays, celebrate birthdays or have random beer nights at one of our friends' houses, and we would share life updates frequently, keeping each other in the loop about our experiences and milestones. Those were the good times. 

But as we grow older and as time passes by, we notice that one by one, we lose contact with our friends and we have no idea of their whereabouts unless they update their social media. It’s how life is. Our priorities shift, and circumstances lead us to separate paths. Sometimes, one has to go far away for good; other times, we just outgrow each other. However, despite knowing this, we can't help but miss our friends. The pain stems from the realization that we've also neglected to maintain regular contact with them even at this age when most of us are reachable through our social channels. At times, we would try to reach out, reconnect with old friends and schedule coffee dates, create group chats, schedule meetups and try to find a common schedule to accommodate everyone.

But have you ever experienced reading the last conversation with a friend, because you just found out that they have passed away? As you read your conversations, you can't help but feel a pang of regret. The weight of that realization settles in, and you come face to face with the reality that you have permanently lost touch with someone who once held a special place in your life. 

I just lost a friend to suicide. It was very sudden and unexpected of him as we’ve known him to be a strong and happy person. I remember him always cheering me up and saying “Kaya mo ‘yan ate” or “Ok lang ‘yan ate.” It was sad to learn that my last conversation with him was 6 years ago.  

Two of my childhood friends died due to complications during labor. We were neighbors but we rarely saw each other unlike when we were younger when we used to play outside. The Covid-19 pandemic made it even more challenging to have meetups, especially for pregnant women. Instead, we relied on online chats to communicate, although not as frequently as we would have liked. 

Upon learning of their demise, I found myself reflecting on missed opportunities — those moments where I should have reached out and asked how they were doing, when I should have invited them for a coffee catch-up, or simply checked in on them. Sadly, there is nothing that I can do now other than light a candle for them and visit their graves. 

Losing friends made me realize how time is short and how easily we can overlook the presence of those we cherish. We often fall into the trap of assuming that our friends (and family) will always be by our side, neglecting to appreciate the significance of their existence. Not all friendships are for keeps; but when you find your true friends, make them feel loved and needed. Life is short - make every moment count.