On Loss, Hurting, and Reaching Out

8 Apr
Note to Readers: This blog is semi-anonymous. It’s easy to figure out who I am and if you know me personally, it’s easy to figure out who I’m talking about. I wrote the following post a while ago and I think it’s important but I ask that you honor the anonymity of it.

My phone vibrated a little after midnight. I was awake, but debated whether to look at the message or just force myself to sleep. Curiosity got the best of me and I scurried across the cold wood floor in bare feet and a t-shirt to my lit-up phone. It was a bbm.

You’re not by any chance up are you? If you are please call me.

I found her in my contacts and pressed send, not knowing what I’d hear on the other end. Would she be crying? Was everything ok? Was it a drunk dial we’d laugh about or was her heart breaking – again – like the last time I got a bbm like that?

She was crying. Everything was not ok. No one was drunk and her heart was breaking, but not for the reason I’d imagined initially. I was worried he broke up with her – turns out the news was unimaginably worse.

She sobbed into the phone. His dad killed himself today.

It was like the wind was knocked out of me. Crouching in my covers in the dark, I felt that pull of tragic devastation, that ache that spreads from the back of your throat and into the pit of your stomach. Tears sprang to my eyes. I’d never met him, but it didn’t matter.

Suicide is the most shocking act. When someone dies of old age, it’s considered natural. When someone is murdered, their killer is a monster. When someone succumbs to a physical illness, it’s tragic but there’s something to blame. But what do you do when the illness that takes over – and wins – is a mental one? When the person you’ve lost is the sole cause of their departure from your life? What then?

We agreed there aren’t enough curse words in the English language to articulate the pure gut-wrenchingness of something like this. Fuck, shit, goddamnit. This SUCKS. They all sound so trite, so useless, and maybe that’s because suicide, the ultimate act of helplessness, leaves only emptiness and confusion in its wake.

I got off the phone – she was at the subway, it was late in London – and as soon as my head hit the pillow, the tears came. Warm, wet, silent, seeping into my pillow and down my nose. I’ve been lucky enough in my life to have never lost a family member or close friend to suicide, but the tragedy is not lost on me.

Depression runs in my family and those closest to me have suffered greatly (but have thankfully overcome their demons). I’ve seen it firsthand – the pain, isolation, and hopelessness that surrounded my brother. And yet, he’s here today. (You might recall the entire reason I got my tattoo.)

So when someone doesn’t make it through, when someone hits rock bottom and allows the belief that up is too far to go and maybe not even worth it, it’s heartwrenching in the worst way.

It reminds me that I need to be grateful every single day for the people in my life and that I need to let them know how much I care about them. For everyone and anyone questioning it, believe me, you matter so much.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts – or even just needing someone to talk to – please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are people who care about you. You would be missed.
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