I’ve written this post several times. I’ve revised it, started over. I just am not sure how I want it to go. I do know I want it out there, but I’m just not sure how I want it out there and what I want out there. This is by far the most personal thing I’ve written (and probably will write) about.
In June 2009 I lost my best friend. I still remember the phone call I got from his wife and very vividly remember the events that happened that morning such as words that were offered to me in comfort from various people, and what was on the radio when my wife and I went to her sister’s house (ironically it was Nickelback’s “If today was your last day.”) Today is his birthday and I miss him every day, but that isn’t anything new nor is it what I want to talk about.
Grief is a really tough thing. Death to me isn’t something that I like to talk about. Mainly because it’s not something I (or anyone else) am familiar with. Nobody’s died and come back and said, “oh you have to try this!” So it is hard for me to talk about it at all. Losing someone close to you isn’t something that I feel can easily be gotten over and I don’t think it’s fair to say to someone that they are grieving too long but on the contrary I also do not feel it’s fair to judge someone who has moved on in their life sooner than you feel they should, or you yourself have – even if I am guilty of this myself. As most people will tell you, grief comes in different stages 1. Denial and Isolation, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining 4. Depression and finally 5. Acceptance. What I recently learned is that these stages don’t come in order that they are totally random (with the exception being acceptance coming at the end). When David died I spent a lot of the morning crying and the week after several times I broke down thinking/talking about it. But when it came time to finally say Goodbye to David, I was numb. I couldn’t bear any emotion. I shared stories with people I knew through him and remembered the good times but I don’t think I shed one tear. Over the next four years I went through depression. Nothing serious, just when something reminded me of him or I saw his picture, I got sad and almost always cried. Over the years I saw different therapists, and they all said the same thing – it was completely normal for me to go through this after losing someone so close to me. The bright side of things were when someone that I knew lost someone they were close to I was able to offer words of encouragement and an ear if they wanted to talk. Most didn’t but the fact that I said to them, “I’ve been there” helped me know that I’m not alone in this battle. I had too much to live for though in my mind. I found out just a few weeks after he died that my wife was pregnant. I sure didn’t want to miss out on being a dad, so I mustered on. But not everyone can muster on like I did.
People go through grief in different ways. My Godfather died when I was a freshman in college and in order to cope with the sudden loss of her husband and companion, his wife (also my Godmother) decided to avoid dealing with the pain and worked ungodly hours at her work. The problem with that is that when she retired he was gone all over again, and the pain was still there. Some people talk about their loved one every chance they get, some people seek solace in the arms of a loved one. And then there are people who just cannot find a way to cope at all with the grief. those people find a way to escape it. They destroy themselves, willingly or not. They resort to drugs, alcohol, or both or something else to ease this unbearable pain that won’t go away. It’s hard and it’s sad to see someone go through it. You can try to help them, but they have to want to get better. A drug addict can say they want to get clean until they’re blue in the face, but until they actually take the steps to get better nothing happens. Depression is hard to get rid of in my mind. Sure you can take happy pills but that doesn’t fix the problem. I decided that I needed to confront the situation head on rather than avoid it. I visited his home, took something that he really cherished and keep it safe. I visit his grave and would cry every time I left. But i’m not afraid to go anywhere that reminds me of him. I’m not afraid to look at pictures of him, or even his obituary. I’m not afraid to remember him. Confronting my demons head on is what helped me heal I believe.
Four years later after talking with his wife (who I still keep in touch with and still consider a very good friend) I think I have finally found acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accepted he was gone long ago. I visit his grave whenever I can (I got him a tombstone, and I got his damn birthday wrong, so there’s a painful reminder that I can screw up anything without even trying). But now when I think of him, I don’t cry as much. When we moved into my new house I was putting photo albums away and trying to put them in somewhat of an order. I came across his obituary in the local paper that and the pamphlet they handed out at his funeral that my wife had saved. I admit, I shed a couple tears. You would too if you came across something from the funeral of someone you cared deeply about. But for the first time, I picked myself up and closed the photo album. I made a promise to him the day he died. If I ever had a son, his name would have David in it. I was going for the first name but my wife said she wanted it to be the middle name, as she didn’t want to take away from the original person. So on July 1st of this year, Patrick David was born. It had come full circle. In a strange sort of way. Both of my children are named after someone who my wife and I cared about deeply, who left this world way too soon (See earlier post about Sindy). Nobody in this world is a saint or lives a perfect life. We all have our demons. It’s how we confront those demons and move on with our lives that define us.