Carrying On: Life After A Loved One’s Suicide

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. – Washington Irving tweet

Rest in peace, Nina. I hope you’re watching from above, knowing how much you’re missed. How loved you are.

There really are no words to describe what the suicide of a loved one does to you. At first, when I got the call, I didn’t want to believe it. When something like this happens, people would rather believe that almost anything else is happening; a prank call, a troll looking to cause trouble, that we’re just in a really scary nightmare, etc.

It took a while for me to really process that a friend from my childhood had killed herself. I felt guilty, ashamed and like an awful person. I still do. I mean, why not, right? I saw Nina just two days before I got the call. Millions of “what ifs” ran through my mind. Millions more run through my mind on a daily basis. “I killed my own friend. I wasn’t there for her.” I think to myself on a daily basis.

We spend so much effort trying to keep parts of our lives hidden, even from our closest friends, that in those rare times when we do open up, it’s amazing how minor those secrets all end up being. – ​Ted Mosby tweet

Folks, one of the many hard life lessons I’ve had to learn is that the thing about life is this: you don’t always end up where you thought you’d be at this point in your life. There are many reasons as to why things happen the way they do in our lives. There’s a bigger force of nature at play, here. I don’t have some great truth to share with you. I don’t know why life reunited me with my childhood abuser and my childhood friend. I don’t know why they both took their lives. I say this only in so much as to share my confusion with the world. The timing of it all… it all happened so quickly and felt so intense.

When we were children, Nina came out to me about this huge crush she had on a male friend of hers. The way she blushed when she spoke about him made me wish that I’d felt the same way about a girl. Just two days before she committed suicide, she admitted that the boy she had a crush on was me; that I broke her heart and that’s why she stayed away from me for so long. Not only because I left her in the hands of a monster, but because I didn’t love her back.

She explained that deep down, she still felt the same way, even though she was happily married. The trauma we went through together and repressed… that changed us. It brought us closer together, even though we felt so distanced. It is the most confusing thing in the world, but that’s what trauma does. It’s complex and destructive.

For the first few days, everything about buses set me off; on some days, I swear I could hear her voice calling my name. But then I look around and realize it’s just me… alone, still not fully accepting that my friend is no longer alive. I regret so much not connecting with her for so many years. It took a monster to reconnect us, and I hate that.

You can’t cling to the past. Because no matter how tightly you hold on, it’s already gone. – Ted Mosby. tweet

It’s true, folks. You may think that the only options you have are to hold onto your pain or get lost in old memories, but there’s a third option. You can let it all go; and only then can you make room for new ones. Move on. I think that if we’re really honest with ourselves and with those who are truly there for us, most of the time, life gives us what we want and need to feel better. Because the funny thing about life is that it doesn’t slow down for us. Things will happen, whether we want those things to happen or not. And in the blink of an eye, everything could change forever. So all you have to figure out is this: will you let those things empower you or break you?
Well, Nina, I’m talking to you, now: I’ve always loved you. It wasn’t that I didn’t love you back, it was that I didn’t love myself. It was because I thought you deserved better. It was because I was scared of loving when so many of our days converted ‘love’ into abuse by the man who looked after us.

You were always the light in those days. The fun times we shared will never be forgotten. Especially where we made that monster trip, or threw cake in his face. All three of us laughed. In that moment, we looked at each other and for a second, shared in an exciting moment: we forgot our pain. He might have forgotten his, too — because I remember how loving he acted that particular night.

Anyway: You know, at first, I wasn’t sure that I was going to carry on this website. If Nina taught me anything, though, it’s that self-expression, in whatever form, is the best tool for survival. It’s how we thrive and move on from the past, even if it catches up to us. Nina helped a lot of people by being the type of therapist she was. Now, in her death, I realized something. I’m going to have to live and survive for the both of us. She helped people in ways that I never can. But I can certainly try. I have to carry on doing what makes me, me. She would have wanted that. She said that my writing doesn’t only do something for me, but for others. In that spirit, I hope to reach people and become stronger do what I need to do, to fulfill my life’s mission.

Thanks for being you, Nina. You’re still very much alive in my heart.

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