Kristin Lee
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When Suicide Takes a Loved One

How I Learned to Move On

When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, there was a new girl in my class. We'll call her Lynn. She was my age; just a month older than me, actually. To be honest with you, I don't remember if we had any classes together, and I don't remember how exactly I'd met her. And she suffered from depression. Depression bad enough, that though she was on medication and had tried several different coping mechanisms, therapists, etc., she still succeeded in taking her own life. I was 17 and a senior in high school when it happened. I'd like to offer some coping techniques for those whom have had a loved one succeed in taking their own life.

1. Acknowledge it.

I know this sounds a lot like your typical "how to grieve" steps, but bear with me. It took a lot for me to acknowledge that Lynn was never coming back. In fact, I was with her not 12 hours before I'd gotten the phone call while on my way to third period. The last thing you want to do is admit to yourself that your loved one is gone and is never coming back. It's harsh and heartbreaking. Despite that, doing so will help you begin the healing process.

2. Remind yourself: It's not your fault.

As stated above, I was, in fact, with Lynn not 12 hours before I'd gotten the phone call. I was confused, hurt, angry, and lost. I kept asking myself, "Why didn't she tell me?" Over time though, I learned why she didn't tell me, nor anyone else. It was because her mind was made up and she was finally happy. Did it make it hurt any less? No. And it's not going to. Unfortunately, there was nothing more that I could do. She didn't tell me, as her mind was made up. And she knew I would try to talk her out of it. It wasn't my fault, and it's never ever your fault.

3. Take your time.

Regrettably, I was unable to do this step. I had responsibilities and I didn't think I "had the time." But I should have made time. And so should you. It's understandable that you have kids, or a job, or anything similar. However, you have to allow yourself to take the time to process the pain. Let others help you. Your friends, family, significant other, etc. If you throw yourself into these responsibilities, you're not allowing yourself the time to process and understand. And I promise you, it doesn't take the pain away. The only way to move on from it, is to feel it.

4. Baby Steps

Taking time is normal and completely applicable in this situation. Still, don't let this eat you up inside. After so long, try to get back out into the world. Go cruise with your friends, go to a park and read, go for a walk. Work toward a normal life again. Your loved one would not want you to forever mourn their death, but to celebrate their life. As cliche as it sounds, it is very true. Take your time, but work toward becoming who you were.

5. Accept it.

The pain will never go away. But it will become bearable. Even four years after Lynn's death, I still struggle. And it is okay to still have those days. Those who understand will never fault you for it. It's okay to cry, scream, throw things, and swear. That is okay. Just remember that it will become tolerable; and you will be able to remember this person fondly. I know I do.

6. Smile: They're always there.

I used to wake up every morning after her death and stomp on the ground, "Come on bitch, you're coming to school with me." I knew she was still with me. I know she is today. They will always be with you in one way or another. Remember them, honor them, love them. Cherish who they were to you and who they continue to be for you. They love you and you love them, and they know this. Never doubt it and always smile at their memory.

Losing Lynn is something I deal with everyday, all the time. It seemed like the hurt would never end but I promise you, it does get better. As ridiculous as it sounds, it truly does get better. Allow yourself to grieve and process, know it was not nor ever will be your fault, and never ever question whether they loved you. You are now and always will be special to them. I know Lynn loved me, she was my best friend. And I honor my best friend now by remembering her. Cherishing her, loving her. Love your person. They're forever with you.

If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts or is contemplating suicide, please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You are loved and you are wanted.

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