Just your normal Friday evening, it was snowing, and my classes were done for the semester. I was on the third floor of our campus library. When all of a sudden I got a dreaded email. He was gone. The guy who although I only knew him for a couple weeks came to the back of the bus to come talk to me while I rode to my piano class. I would be lying if I told you that I have been okay physically, emotionally, and/or mentally since that day. But here are some things I have learned to ensure I am healthy during this tough season.
1. Understanding the situationimages.pexels.com
This is the first time that I have really lost someone close to me in a pretty traumatic way. The feeling of shock and grief can be pretty overwhelming. Sitting with those feelings can be really uncomfortable but are 100% necessary.
2. Realize that no two people experience loss in the same way
I think the hardest thing for me has been looking at others who were also close to him, much closer than I was, and thinking that they have their life together and are not having the type of bad days I am experiencing. I have to constantly remind myself that people go through different stages of grief at different speeds, and there is no "right way" of showing how much you are hurting.
3. Acknowledge that this situation is unique
Losing a friend or loved one is never easy. However, when you lose someone to suicide as I did, it can feel different from other types of loss. Several circumstances such as the stigma around this issue can make death by suicide different, making the healing process more challenging.
4. Fight the stigmahttps://www.everypixel.com/
Stigma around mental health and suicide have been a problem in our society recently, and as a pre-health profession major, I have worked to the best of my ability to break that stigma down to the ground.
5. Understand that there can be risks for survivors (AKA me)
People who have recently experienced a loss by suicide are at increased risk of having suicidal thoughts themselves. After experiencing the loss of a loved one, it's not uncommon to wish you were dead or to feel like the pain is unbearable. Remember that having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you will act on them. These feelings and thoughts will likely decrease over time, but if you find them too intense, or if you're considering putting your thoughts into action, seek support from a mental health professional.
6. Find support
It's very important to find people in your life who are good listeners so that you can turn to someone when you need extra support. You may find it helpful to talk to a friend, family member, mental health professional, or spiritual advisor.
7. Stay present
Take each moment as it comes. That way, you can better accept whatever you're feeling and be able to respond in the way that is most helpful to you. I personally benefit from calling my best friend. Some people find journaling helpful to let go of your thoughts for now.
8. Find time and space for yourself to grieve BUT don't allow yourself to be in that space for very longUnsplash
Acknowledging your experiences is necessary. Whether it's talking about it with a friend, journaling, or just sitting with your thoughts in private. Just make sure you leave enough time to do something pleasantly distracting from time to time. Social events or pleasant activities can provide relaxation and distraction. Laughter heals the soul.
9. It's OK to cryGiphy
Just because I just said to schedule fun activities doesn't mean that you should bottle up feelings for that time. It's okay to have those emotional breakdowns once in a while.
10. Have an accountability partner
With the one year anniversary coming up with my friend, I have already brought in two of my really good friends into my life that have promised to check up on me all week to make sure I am balancing feelings with living my life. Find that someone or two that will walk with you during this difficult season.
To anyone reading this article and has gone through a similar struggle with losing a friend to suicide, know that I know how it feels, and I am here for you. Life may seem unbearable right now but it will get better. Probably not today or tomorrow, and in my case, not a year later. But believe it or not, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.