24 March 2014 Surviving Loss

When I was 14, and a freshman in high school, I had to endure the horror of a close friend committing suicide. I was one of the last people to see her alive. I have been working with her for two years to try to help her. It was terrible. A little over two months later, I moved. During those two months, I had to deal with the rumors, the accusations, the funeral, and trying to just pick up the pieces. I didn’t feel like I had much support during that time, but boy was I wrong. When I moved, then I realized how much support I had then. All my social support was gone, and my new school felt cold and hostile. I look back now, and realize my whole high school career was tainted by what happened. I shut so many people out, pushed so many away, and didn’t see how wonderful the friends I did make were until almost 20 years later.
I have often wondered what I would tell my 14 year old self, if I could. I think I now know.

1) It’s OK to be happy and smile, and laugh again. It will not dishonor her memory, and she would be sadder knowing you couldn’t smile. She didn’t do this to hurt you.
2) IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Rumors flew for me about it being my fault (yes, I was told this, even by adults), because I was her closest friend and “did nothing”. They were totally wrong. Ultimately, we control one person: ourselves. Even then, we don’t always do a very good job. Nothing you could have done could change the choices that she made. It was not your job to do so. Even at 14, I needed adults stepping in to help her. It shouldn’t have been just me.
3) There is no timeline for healing. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should either grieve less, or grieve more. This is your journey alone with God, let it take its course.
4) You will go on, and in time the sun will shine again. Remember that on the dark days.
5) Her memory will always be with you, but in time, you will be able to remember the good things.
6) This will shape you, but do not let it define you.
7) It’s OK to be mad, it is part of the healing process. You won’t be mad forever.
8) Let people love on you. They are trying to. You need it.
9) You will not understand why God “let this happen”, and you never will. Just know HE is there for you to comfort you. (If you get mad at HIM, that is OK, too. HE is big enough to handle it.)
10) Lastly, breathe. Deep, healing breaths. Breathe in, breathe out, and repeat. You will be OK.

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