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How to Have Closure in an Ended Friendship

by Elise Wile, studioD

One day, the two of you were happily jogging on your favorite trail, discussing the meaning of life, and the next, your friend let you know that she'd decided to move in a new direction in life -- and you were not invited along for the ride. The loss of a friendship can be jarring and leave you feeling rejected and lost. For the sake of your mental health, it's important to find closure so you can move on with your life.

Say Goodbye

While you may not literally be able to say goodbye to a friend -- say he's not returning your calls -- you can develop a ritual to gain closure, says psychiatrist Abigail Brenner in the "Psychology Today" article "5 Ways to Find Closure From the Past." Think of a way to symbolize the end of the relationship, and then act it out. For example, if you and your friend met for lunch every week at a local Chinese restaurant, you might make a boat out of the take-out menu and let it float down a stream, letting the act represent your letting go of the relationship. Another possibility would be writing a letter to your former friend, and then burning it.

Cry, and Cry Some More

Allow yourself time to grieve, advises Brenner. Cry, go out in the backyard and yell at the sky, and cry again if need be. While you won't want to drag out your mourning for the lost friendship for a year, letting yourself have the time you need to fully process your loss can ultimately help you move on. This is especially important when you had a close relationship with a person that lasted for a long time. It will take time for you to adjust to the new circumstances -- don't beat yourself up if you feel sad.

Cultivate Gratitude

While you don't need to feel happy about losing a good friend, looking at the positives can help you gain peace and continue along your path without harboring feelings of resentment. Be thankful, suggests writer Lauren Suval in the Psych Central article, "Finding Closure." Recall your friend teaching you how to water ski and make a tasty latte, and mentally thank him for the blessings he brought to your life. When you are able to look back on your former friendship with fond memories of your midnight movie marathons together instead of the annoying way he always tried to one-up you professionally, you'll know you have gained closure.


Ended friendships often come with the emotional baggage of animosity and hard feelings. As long as you feel a surge of anger every time you remember how she flirted with your boyfriend, you'll find it difficult to move on. Work on recognizing your former friend's frailties so you can cultivate an attitude of forgiveness. If you feel tempted to bad-mouth your former buddy, stop and remember that you prevent yourself from finding closure each time you keep the unpleasant feelings from your ended friendship alive with your words.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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