Whether you've been the closest of friends since childhood or for just a few years, it's sad to suddenly hear your best pal is moving away. After all, the popular abbreviation "BFF" stands for Best Friends Forever, and the "forever" part is never going to be the same if you're hundreds of miles apart. Don't be surprised if you have a little cry when the news finally sinks in. Professional counsellors call this type of event life-changing, and you can expect to grieve. But while the life change is happening, here's what you can do – and not do – to make the transition healthy, happy and heartwarming for both you and your BFF.

Don't Retreat. It's human nature to pull away and protect yourself from whatever might hurt. Now's not the time to give in to that instinct. Instead, acknowledge the unpleasantness you're experiencing and notice that your friend is hurting, too. Spend time together as you usually would, but be prepared for schedule changes as she is caught up in the whirlwind of packing, planning and preparing for the big move.

Become the Princess of Packing Supplies. You might not be happy about the circumstances, but you can turn around your disappointment with thoughtful gestures. Take charge of rounding up cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape and labels. Your friend will be eternally grateful for the practical support, and you've saved her time that she doesn't have to run around getting the supplies herself. If you can, lend a hand wrapping breakables, writing down inventory and labeling boxes. You'll find the time spent working together is perfect for sharing memories and ideas you won't have a chance to easily do in person in the future.

Take Care of Last Minute Details. Little things always seem to pop up at the final stage of packing for the move. Maybe it's returning books to the library, picking up pizza for the family on their last night at home, or taking a hand cart back to Blakes Moving & Storage after everything's loaded. Every little bit you can do to relieve your BFF's stress has the added benefit of making you feel better because you are helping her through this major transition.

Set Up a Regular Time to Connect. Instead of leaving each other with vague "let's stay in touch" sentiments, plan a weekly or monthly date to share with each other. Even over long distances, modern technology makes it easy to chat via Skype, watch a streaming movie at the same time while you text comments back and forth, or just share a cup of coffee while you catch up with a phone call. Knowing that time together is limited can help you focus on what's most meaningful, supportive and entertaining.

When you've had your last hug and she's on the road to her new home, you might shed another tear. But you'll have created more precious memories that you'll both share and you'll have a realistic plan to make more in the future.