“Grief is like the ocean – it’s deep, dark, and bigger than all of us” (One Tree Hill). A statement that I have found to be very true in the past 5 months. I want to share a topic that is very real. I know you probably think suicide is real already, but I thought I did too. Then I lost someone very special to it, and I realized I everything I had once known was gone.
It was a nice September day, 2011 I believe, and I had just gone on a class trip to see the musical My Fair Lady. A friend and I were downtown and waiting for the bus after the show when this very tall smiling boy walked over to us and said something like, “I recognize you from school. I’m new. You shouldn’t be alone down here, let’s head back together.” From that day on, a very important friendship was built. He was the kindest soul I’ve ever known. I don’t ever recall him complaining, or putting anyone down. A boy who always had the biggest smile, and the brightest eyes. We spent a lot of time together that year, with two of our other friends. The four of us spent countless days watching movies, playing hide and seek, and just being our crazy selves together. I always just thought of him as this happy person, but I knew he had his struggles. We shared our anxiety and depression with each other. He was always someone who knew what to say, and how to help cope. Suicide was never something I thought I’d lose him to.
That’s the thing about suicide, we never actually think it will happen until it does. Until it’s too late. Until you see your friend’s name beside the most gut wrenching three words. I wonder if that’s how it feels for someone who lost the fight. If you contemplate it, attempt it, and then at the last minute realize what you’ve done. There’s no turning back. A hurt that will never fully heal. Because even though we had lost touch the last year of high school, it doesn’t change anything. You care for someone who impacted your life for as long as you live. In Canada 1 in 5 people suffer from some sort of mental illness. Let’s talk about how Canada’s suicide rate among people 21 and under is one of the highest in the world, and how people still treat depression and other mental illnesses like a joke. Depression is self destructive, and an easy illness to hide. Depression shows itself in various forms; it isn’t always sadness. It’s also feeling numb and tired, but still laughing with your friends and acting like nothing is wrong. It’s not being able to get out of bed even though you were fine the day before. It’s not eating, or eating too much. It’s feeling too much or nothing at all. It’s missing school and failing grades, or attending school for a simple distraction.
The biggest thing about grieving a death due to suicide is understanding that no matter how difficult it may be, ultimately there is nothing you could have done. A person in a suicidal state of mind can see/feel nothing but their pain. It’s blinding. All I can think of is the three weeks before when I saw him, and we said, “I’ll see you soon.” The last hug that lingered in the doors of Walmart. The last text messages sent a few days prior. It all haunts me, and breaks my heart. The pain of attending the funeral of someone who shined so brightly is horrible. I wish we lived in a world where these types of things didn’t happen, but the sad reality is they do. We can try to prevent it by raising our voices and sharing our own stories. Being kind to people. Spreading awareness of the importance of mental health. The biggest thing is simply taking care of yourself. Self-care is the key to acknowledging mental illness. If you can take the time to find ways to cope and seek support, then you are doing a wonderful job. If you are not able to come to terms with your illness, or want to seek help just yet, know that you are strong, and loved.
To end my post I would like to say some things about one of the most influential people I met in my young life, who sadly is no longer here. The word that comes to mind when I think of him is love, because he was so full of love and made sure he shared that love with as many people as he could. Being his friend was such a privilege. I am so grateful for all of the times he made me laugh, and all of the crazy adventures that we had together, and all of the times he walked me home because he always just cared so much. He was someone I looked up to (quite literally) and I learned a lot from having him as my friend, but the biggest thing that he taught me was how to just be kind. I hope that is something he taught everyone who knew him as well. Being kind to people is the biggest legacy anyone can leave behind. I’m going to make more of an effort to be nicer, and to help others out more. I am going to pay it forward as much as I possibly can, because I will never be able to thank the world for putting someone like him into my life.
About Emma Holden
18, tea enthusiast, animal lover, word writer, and wants to change the stigma on mental health one blog post at a time.