The death of one of my closest friends is without a doubt the most difficult thing I have had to overcome as a teenager.
The 29th of June 2015 is a date I will never forget. It was on this day, now over two years ago, that I lost one of my friends to suicide.
When I first heard the news I was in complete disbelief - is this some sort of sick joke? Why would someone say something so twisted? But in the days following, the realisation all started to kick in, and it kicked hard.
And still, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of him. When his favourite song plays on the radio - when we drive past the old school - when I see anything that is evenly remotely related to Batman.
I don’t think there is any particular right answer to dealing with the loss of a loved one. But I do think that some ways are better than others.
At the start I bottled things up. I didn’t say much.
Part of me blamed myself - could I have been a better friend to him? Why was I not more supportive? Part of me blamed him - how could he be so selfish? Why didn’t he talk to me about it? And part of me just wanted answers - why did he do it? How could someone who always seemed so happy, be so unhappy?
When I look back on it, I think this self-blame to aggressive-depression phase was not the best way of dealing with things. I stopped boxing (one of my biggest passions), my grades started to drop, I wanted to drop out of school, I lost my appetite and I lost my way. It took me a long time to find myself again.
As I look back over the past few years, there are a numbers things that helped me overcome the death of my friend. I would like to share them with you:
1. Accept it
When you lose a loved one to suicide you have to come to terms with the fact that you are going to have questions that are never going to be answered, as much as you want them to be. As a person who is not the biggest fan of unanswered questions, I struggled with this - a lot!
However, as time passed, I learned to deal with it. I accepted it.
2. Focus on the good
A positive outlook can also be helpful. Rather than focusing on the what’s and why’s, I have found that it is so much better to just focus on the good memories that I shared with my friend.
I have a folder on my phone with all the photos and good memories we shared together and a YouTube playlist with all of his favourite songs. These sorts of things have brought me a much more positive outlook and have definitely helped me deal better with the tragedy.
3. Talk to people
This is another big step in dealing with death. Another big step which I struggled with. I guess as a guy I seemed to have this false idea that it’s not okay to talk to people.
'It’s weak', I thought, 'It shows that you’re not a real man.'
But this is complete nonsense!
One of the best things I did was open up to my closest friends and family about this. Just talking about how we were all doing or talking about old memories of our friend made a massive difference.
4. Keep busy
At the start, I did the complete opposite. I stopped boxing and I stopped going out with friends.
However, it is okay to move on with your life. You can still take the time to remember your loved one, but it’s important that you don’t let their memory take over your whole day or entire life.
Go out with your friends, go to the gym, live your life! It’s important that you don’t let one tragedy overshadow all your blessings.
There’s a quote which says, “time is the best healer” and I agree with this - though time can only heal you if you let it.
While losing someone is an extremely difficult thing to come to terms with, I feel that with the right outlook, support and mentality you can learn to accept it and embrace life again.
Michael, 19 years old, guest writer