How Tragedy Affects a Small Town

How Tragedy Affects a Small Town

I love my town, and my town knows how to give love back

*Trigger warning: death, suicide, car accident

Tragedy is part of life. What can make or break a person is how they deal with the tragedy.

I live in Calais, a small town located in North East Maine. You know nearly every person, or you know of the person. If a major event happens, the entire town feels it collectively.

From car accidents, to firework incidents, to personal anguish, my hometown has dealt with a lot of heavy hits, but you can see the heart and soul that fill in the voids as we rebuild.

On August 5 of this year, a girl, K (name protected), died in a car accident. I knew her, she was a friend, but we weren't close. It still shocked me to the core. How could she be dead? Her Facebook profile is still haunting to look at, as if we're all still waiting for her to start sharing cat pictures or quotes again.

Everybody knew her and nobody had a negative thing to say about her. Her death was so unexpected that it didn't feel real, it felt like a bad dream everybody shared. Just days before, she was hanging out with friends, laughing carelessly, innocently unaware that her life would end in just a few days. Perhaps that's how it should be: having fun and living the life, not thinking about tomorrow.

Her death happened so quickly that the community was numb, unsure how to grieve with the sudden loss. People discussed fun stories and experiences they had with her, changed their profile pictures to pictures they had with the smirking, spunky girl, and donations were made to help cover funeral costs. It was a warm sight to watch a community come together...but it was still bittersweet, as it couldn't bring K back.

On September 11, barely a month after the tragic passing of K, Calais was hit with another unexpected blow. Another young person had died. C.I. (name protected). His death was completely shocking and sad: he took his own life. I didn't know C.I., but I knew who he was. Just 19 years old, and his young life ended.

A small community left reeling and grasping for answers. Suicide? Depression? Even though I did not know C.I., I felt immense sympathy for him: how much pain was he in? What were his final thoughts as he slipped away? Even though I didn't know him, I wish I would've helped him somehow.

While the community is still trying to make sense of the fresh tragedy, C.I.'s legacy lives on. A young firefighter, red and black balloons are hung all over Calais in C.I.'s memory: telephone poles, store windows, store registers, and profile pictures of a firefighter badge in C.I.'s name grace Facebook.

While death is a part of life, when it happens in your tight-knit hometown, it almost feels like aftershocks: you feel the effect after it's already occurred. You begin to question your own mortality, wondering if you're next, how would the town react to your passing, how would you die. But you can't live life wondering your fate, as it defeats the purpose of living.

Even though I have a hate/love relationship with my town, in times of pain and sorrow, I see and feel the love from nearly every resident, my heart feels a little lighter, like things are going to be okay again. I hate when tragedy strikes, but the unity serves as a good medicine.

I wish our community could feel more united without tragedy. Even when I eventually move on from Calais, I know I'll always have a sixth sense of grief if something were to happen here again. I love my town, and my town knows how to give love back.

Rest easy K, C.I., and other young Calais souls that died tragically <3

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:


(available 24 hours a day)

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.


I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

Related Content

Facebook Comments