May 28, 2019
My world was turned upside down the day my best friend died. We had been friends for 40 years and I always believed we would grow old together. I wasn’t a stranger to loss. My father died when I was 13 and I often imagined what it would be like to be widowed in order to prepare myself for such a terrible loss. But somehow I didn’t think that Madeleine, my confidante, my trusted and wise friend would die when she was 58.
I knew I could not replace her, but I wanted to find a way to celebrate the importance of women’s friendships with other women and, in the process, honor her. So a year ago I decided to interview women who had suffered the same type of loss as a way to honor these women and bring attention to a relationship that is often unappreciated by society yet brings so much joy to women who are fortunate enough to have that in their lives.
As I interviewed 25 women I found their stories uplifting and sad at the same time. I listened intently as they described how they had met their girlfriends, I laughed when they described some of the adventures they had had, and I cried when they told me what had ended the friendship and how they were coping with the loss.
After the interviewing was complete I decided to launch Friendship Dialogues, a community website devoted to telling women’s stories of love and loss of their best female friends. The website enables women to read stories, submit their own story and post photos of the women they want to honor at our Cherish Photo Gallery.
As I worked on this project I often thought about how a project like this might affect women who had experienced such a loss in their lives. I found out recently just how healing it is to tell your story when Robin, one of the women I interviewed, wrote this on the website: “I can’t tell you how important this website is to me. Congratulations to Ellen for making it happen…I feel blessed that I have two beautiful daughters and a great husband who all appreciate the loss I feel without Ronee in my life. They remind me to appreciate what I still have although no one will ever replace my childhood best friend of 47 years. When I miss her, I come here and reread our story. Thank you, Ellen.”
It is time to celebrate women’s friendships for they are often the glue that holds women together in life, through times of difficulty and joy, and even after death, the memory of the unconditional love that relationship provided continues to sustain and embrace us.