I thought I’d go first.
It’s now been over three years, and I still wonder how I didn’t. I guess I know as well as anyone that you never truly know what someone else is going through. Hell, I hid the same things he did every day. But here I am, alive—without him.
We were 18 when he died, and I can’t believe I made it to 21. I can’t comprehend how time passes without him. I think they call it survivor’s guilt. I didn’t want to be alive anymore because he didn’t get to be. When he took his life, he went from an “is” to a “was.” That had to be one of the hardest parts. It stunned me to see how easily people switched from present to past tense.
I still struggle when I talk about him. Never quite knowing how to reply when people tell me they’re sorry. Not wanting to say, “it’s ok,” because it isn’t. Not wanting to say, “thank you,” because I don’t think I deserve sympathy.
Following a suicide, one of the first things loved ones do is try to find out why, to identify a cause or any warning signs. When he died, everyone was searching for a reason. People like things to be direct and simple—he did “this” because of “that.” I was certain people assumed I could have and should have stopped him. I was certain people assumed I was the “that.”
I spent countless days and nights thinking back to every conversation. I knew he was struggling, but he told me was better. I analyzed every possible scenario that might have prevented his death. I thought, maybe if we were still together, he would still be here.
But trying to understand or create scenarios of “what if” will drive you mad. Any small adjustment could have made an impact. There’s no way of pinpointing an exact moment where I could have saved him. I’m now learning, through my own struggles with depression and anxiety, that no one can truly save a life other than their own. I had to decide that I wanted to stay. Yes, others can help, but it’s ultimately something we decide for ourselves.
Years ago, I could have never imagined telling anyone that I deal with both depression and anxiety. Conversations about mental health were taboo and belonged behind closed doors. But since his death, I’ve made vulnerability a priority. It’s not worth pretending we’re not going through heavy things. When we spend so much time painting false images that everything’s OK, all it does is strengthen shame and encourage people to hide.
I choose to be vulnerable because I refuse to let someone think they’re alone or too broken. By pulling back the curtain, we remind those around us that we’re pretty damn similar and struggling is not something to be ashamed of.
Saturday, November 23 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. If you or someone you know has lost a friend or loved one to suicide, there is support available. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is hope, there is help, and you are deserving of both.
You’re amazing. This is amazing. You should be proud of yourself Nicole. This was written from the heart 💛
Words I could have expressed verbatim, but didn’t know how to. Thank you for writing this, Nicole. ♥️
Just lost a dear friend 😢
We’re so sorry for your loss, Annette. We hope you know you are not alone and that your pain is valid.
It’s been three months since I lost my friend Cat. It’s been the hardest thing ever but it’s propelled me to get the therapy I’ve needed for years. It’s brought our group closer than ever… We talk about shit now. And we still laugh every so often but, we cry together too now. I wish she was here to see it, and to laugh and cry with us. But through all the pain, it’s things like this that bring me the most comfort. It’s an awful way to have to say goodbye to a friend. My heart and soul hurts. But… At least there’s some good coming from it.
We are so incredibly sorry for the loss of your dear friend Cat. Losing someone you love and care so deeply for is never easy. We are so grateful to know that you and your friends have connected in ways you never had before, that all of you are sharing and talking about heavy things and supporting one another through life. We hope you are able to find continued comfort through those connections and conversations.