What Happens When Someone You Love Dies

What Happens When Someone You Love Dies

There is no timetable for grief.
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People ask how you're doing the day someone you love dies. But they forget to ask at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, or 11 a.m. on a Sunday, when it hits you just as hard as the first day.

When someone you love dies, people ask how you're doing. They seek affirmation that you're OK, that you appreciate their concern, and life goes on and so can they. They ask for a while, but then they expect you to be OK and they forget about the one thing you never will.

The day someone you love dies, you vow to live life differently. To love a little harder, remember a little longer.

The day someone you love dies, you lose a sense of what is normal. You claim that nothing will ever fill the hole that person left, but you fail to really understand the complexity of it until you're driving down the street in the middle of the afternoon, and see someone who has the same haircut as them, or you're laying in bed and can't fall asleep, no matter how much you wish you could, because you know they're waiting in your dreams, and you can't imagine having to wake up and remember they're gone -- again. You don't understand the complexity of it until you think of something you want to tell them, but you can't.

The day someone you love dies, everything suddenly changes. I think, though, what we fail to realize is that you don't see all of the little details that person decorated your life with and all of the pages they were on all at once. It happens gradually, and continues every single day.

People tell you the day someone you love dies that it's OK to not be alright, and that grief is normal. But once the funeral is over, life goes on, even when you feel like your whole world has stopped turning. Even when some days the sun shining makes you sad because they're not there to enjoy it, because you know they would. Even when some days you just hurt for no reason other than the fact that you feel their absence. Even when, sometimes, the toughest days are the days after the funeral.

Death has been called "the new obscenity." The nasty thing of which no polite person will talk about in public. If that's the case, suicide is the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone would rather ignore than talk about. But it's worth talking about, because isolating the problem isolates the people dealing with the problem.

But suicides never go unnoticed by others, because left to deal with the aftershocks of the suffocating riptides of this type of loss are dozens of people who loved the soul whose life was cut short. The wounds inflicted on suicide survivors are unanticipated, unintentional, and overwhelmingly intense.

I've watched in the last few months and years as people around me have struggled with the riptide that is grief while wrestling with it myself.

We are dazed by our helplessness, confused by the anger that laces through our mourning. Emotional wave after wave pounds on the grieving, knocking them off their feet, sapping whatever strength they had mustered to face the day.

It goes on and on and is heightened by the looming unfinished business, unanswerable questions, and beliefs ripped apart in a split second.

But, as time goes on, so does life. Phrases like "moving on" and "time heals all wounds" get tossed around by people with the best intentions, but who can't understand.

They say suicide is a death like no other, and those who are left behind to struggle with it must confront a pain like no other. But the one thing that is scientifically proven is that life will go on, even in the midst of all of this. And eventually, day-to-day tasks begin to take precedence over the pain again. But it's always there, because moving on does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean forgetting.

I don't think any of us who has lost someone to suicide has ever forgotten that there is an empty space, and we never will. But gradually it becomes a space created by the death of someone we loved, without the emphasis on and preoccupation with the suicide. We acknowledge—not accept—what has happened and that it has changed our lives forever. We acknowledge we will never find closure. We acknowledge the questions won't be answered.

The day somebody you love dies, whether it be to suicide or anything else, people will care, and I mean really care for a while. But it's never long enough. Remember the power of a simple "How are you doing?" or "I'm here if you need to talk." Even three, seven, 18, or 38 months down the road. That's the tricky thing about grief: There is no timetable.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlynn Peetz

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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My Eating Disorder Was A Secret, Even From Me

No one ever talks about it, and if they had my life might be different.

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I remember ninth grade health class very well, specifically one day in particular. The day we talked about eating disorders, I was ready to hear about anorexia and bulimia. I was not ready to walk out of that classroom with confirmation that I had an eating disorder, but that is exactly what I did that day.

After speaking on anorexia and bulimia, my teacher told us about Binge Eating Disorder.

My 14-year-old ears perked up. I had never heard of this disease, but I was immediately interested. I knew anorexia and bulimia well, they were the diseases that, at the time, I wish I had the determination to try, but I was too scared to hurt my body.

Binge Eating Disorder was new to me. My teacher described it as continuing to eat after you were full and eating for hours at a time. As the signs and symptoms continued to be read, I realized... that the last three years of my life had been plagued by binges. There was a lot I couldn't control in my life, but eating was one thing that I always had control over. It was the one thing that always brought me comfort.

Most binges would start after I came home from a hard day at school, or maybe after I got in a fight with a family member. Maybe I felt insecure about the growing number on the scale, but I ate.

It always started with half a bag of chips, then maybe a cookie or other sweet treat, and then I would finish with something else I could find in the pantry. My mother would come home and begin making dinner.

Ashamed, I would hide the food anywhere so my family could not tell I had been eating and then I would go eat dinner.

This was a common occurrence for me, but I had no idea that my habits were wrong or should point to an eating disorder. The only thing that I knew was wrong with me, was that I was gaining weight.

For the longest time, I thought an eating disorder was something that helped you lose weight unhealthily, not gain weight. It wasn't until I sat in a health class that I realized that there was anything wrong with me.

Education is so important in overcoming eating disorders. We are making such great strides about informing people about the dangers of eating disorders and positive body image.

It is so important that we start making Binge Eating Disorder a topic that is as known as anorexia and bulimia. No one ever discusses Binge Eating Disorder, not even the dangers of it, maybe if they had my life might have been different.

Maybe I would have found out about it earlier and could have gotten help before it got out of hand.

I wish I could say that I left that health class that day and never had a binge again. The truth is I binged several times after that, and still to this day I have an episode, although they are very rare.

It would be unrealistic to tell you that I overcame my eating disorder that day because it is a journey I am still completing. Every day presents a new challenge, and sometimes I fail, but I will succeed, and succeeding is worth a few failures.

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