Losing a loved one is something that I know all too well. It’s something we all know too well. The world is this strange place that grants you this life but also has the power to rip it away.
When I was 11 my best-friend passed away after a 2 year battle with a brain tumour. It happened the week after I started my second year of high school and if I’m honest, I still don’t think i’ve properly grieved the loss of my best friend.
Grief is a funny thing and I still don’t know if I even know what grief is. Sometimes I find myself going about my day when something will trigger my emotions and my grief and I can be in the middle of a lecture and tears will flood my eyes and my vision becomes this blurriness of wet. It’s weird.
Only being 11 years old and attending your first funeral is hard enough. Yet when that happens and It’s your best-friends funeral I cant even begin to explain what that can do to a young person. When I was 9, my parents had to tell me about this ugly monster called cancer. ‘The Big C” as most call it now. Having to comprehend that your best-friend may be too tired to play out anymore or that all their hair will fall out or they will have to spend a lot of time in hospital and you won’t be able to see them for a while when you were once joined at the hip is most definitely the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to hear and comprehend. If I’m honest I don’t remember being told my friend had cancer but I do remember feeling numb.
My parents didn’t get the chance to explain to me properly. My mum just got a phone-call from my friends mum and I remember my mum bursting into tears in shock on the phone. When that happens, you cant walk away from your child and think about how you tell them. You just blurt it out because theres no hiding from cancer.
I remember so clearly the day she passed away. I was sat on the sofa with my mum, we’d just got home from school and she got a text telling us the news. She buried her head in her hands, bursting into tears and just said “she’s passed away”..
I had no idea how to process that and I remember simply standing up and saying “I’m in my uniform still, i need to go and change”. What even is that as a response? I have no idea, but I guess I didn’t know what to do. I walked out of the living room, into my room, sat on my bed.. completely numb just staring at the walls with no feeling inside of me. How do you just accept that you’re never going to see someone ever again? How do you find a way to be okay with that?
The next week or so was a blur and the next memory I have of that week is going into school and somehow word had got around and everyone in my class was looking at me in this weird remorseful but no idea what to say to me way and I didn’t know how to respond to that. A few days after that was my friends funeral and that whole day was awful. I try and block it out as much as i can.
I somehow seemed to just get on with things from then on and now 9 years have gone by and I find myself more emotional and cut up about it now than I did when it happened. I feel like because I couldn’t process it back then and I shut it out, that maybe now subconsciously I’m trying to process it but I just don’t know how to..
Some nights I find myself lay in bed just thinking about so many different scenarios that in the end, make me even more upset. So many ‘what if?‘ questions come to mind.. Would we still be friends if she hadn’t passed away? Would I be the person I am today if that didn’t happen to me? Did the universe need that to happen in order for me to be me?
I’m a HUGE believer in “everything happens for a reason” and that stands for our entire lives not just relationships (thats usually what people are referring to when thinking everything happens for a reason).
Did this have to happen in order for my life to be the way it is?
It seems such a crazy way of thinking but It’s something that keeps me up at night. It’s what brings me to think, am I still grieving? Or have I never actually grieved the loss of my friend because I was so young and numb to it all and therefore I’m grieving now? I honestly don’t know but i find myself struggling..
Whenever certain topics become the centre of a conversation I can feel myself getting worked up yet nobody has asked my opinion yet nor have I even said anything so why do I get panicky and teary? It feels like fear. Fear of accepting I’m hurting, but fear of not being able to explain my outburst of emotion at something so general to everyone else.
I’ve been thinking a lot about speaking to someone professional about this but how do you begin to tell someone “its been 9 years, but I think I’m finally grieving” ? It’s hard. It is something that is hard to comprehend and understand even at the grand old age of 21.
Not knowing what loss really is and not knowing whether I am grieving or not, is something that I guess I’ll never really know. But it is something that I know that I’m going to work on, in order to help myself. I’ve always advocated that self-care is the best care and I think that is something I need to do in more depth.
I apologise for the slightly sad post, but I got into my feelings and It’s something I just needed to let out. As I’ve been writing I’ve felt a sense of relief which feels good, I’ll be honest.
A friend recently shared a passage with me and I want to share it with you, incase it brings some peace and understanding.
“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive. In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life. Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.”
If you ever feel like you need someone to talk too if you’re struggling the same way I am, then reach out. Let’s start a conversation so no-one is left in the darkness of grief.