70. Loss

18th Sept 2018

It was a Friday night. I’d just settled down with my guinea pigs, for my nightly petting session, and I opened up Facebook. And then I saw that his sister had posted on FB, as his account, about his funeral.

The first thought that crossed my mind was that he’s gone. He’s finally done it. The second thought, was that this was a huge, terrible joke. In my insensitivity, which I only reflected on later, I messaged his sister to ask if this was real.

It was. 

Living with depression means certain changes. In our expectations of life and of ourselves as well as in the way we lead our lives. Suicidality promises that. We have to change the way we see things. The daily grind. 

Living with depression means certain changes. In our expectations of life and of ourselves as well as in the way we lead our lives. Suicidality promises that. We have to change the way we see things. The daily grind. 

He was well aware of this. He’d made so many changes, he’d tried so many treatments, he’d kept doing his best. In the time I knew him, he’d gone from being absolutely certain that he won’t last out a year, to being grimly certain that he’d fight on. I knew he’d done his very best, right up till the moment that he decided his best was not enough. And if anyone would judge him for that, they simply didn’t understand just how painful life was for him.

In the length of time I knew him, he was a man in pain. But he was also one of the most beautiful men I ever knew. One of the most beautiful people. 

So I grieve for him.

Grief is a strange thing. It’s not like depression, where it suggests inadequacy, though guilt is a usual companion. In his case, I knew that I’d done what I could have. I never held back from calling him beautiful despite his constant refrain of “Shut up.” Words that had to be said, were said. I told him I loved him, and he knew. I had no regrets.

But with no regrets, why grieve? What’s more I only knew him for just under a year. A very long year, true, but just a year. We talked about so many things, but I didn’t even know if I dared to call him my close friend. He was my close friend, but I don’t know if he thought of me as one. I think so. I don’t actually know. And I’ll never really know.

What’s more, his family has been through so much. I wasn’t the one always worrying about him, calling in help, checking in on him in the middle of the night. What right do I have to grieve?

And yet the tears kept falling, that night, when his sister replied with a “Yes.” It was real. He was gone. My half written eulogy written in reflex was not going to be deleted. And as it sank in, I couldn’t refrain from a painful cry, as my body folded, and as my tears poured out from my eyes, even as I knew that he was finally at rest, my beautiful friend was finally at peace in a way that only long sleep can bring.

Even as I struggled with whether I had the right to grieve, the heart grieved. I miss him. I’d wake up thinking, I miss him. I’d do certain things and remember what he’d say about them. Sometimes the tears would come. I shelved them, as I prepared to draw a series of comics in tribute to his memory. 

I didn’t manage to go for the funeral. I know that I won’t hold up seeing his casket. I know also, that I won’t have wanted to make a scene with his family around. I don’t want to burden them. So I said goodbye in my own way, drawing the comics. 

I finally drew the last one on a Friday as well. And then the tears poured again, as I finished titling it, as the feelings came pouring back in, as I had to confront them again, in drawing and wording what I had to say to him. And it swept me away, that night. I couldn’t sleep until pretty late because the pain in my heart was just so deep.

In desperation, I reached out to other peers to see if anyone was awake. It was a late night after all. A couple of peers were. They helped me through the fog of pain, till the tears came again, and the sobs racked my body. I let the tears fall. I tried not to stop them. 

But it didn’t feel better for long.

Therapy came on a Monday after, irregular as it is. This time it was timely. I recorded my mood scores, which were really low, and as she took the chart from my hand, I told her that my friend had committed suicide. I wasn’t really coherent, but we managed to agree that perhaps that was something we should talk about in that session.

We talked about the guilt I felt for grieving. She asked me who had set those standards that I had to measure up against. I had to reply, no one but myself. I started to allow myself to grieve, but the words were struggling to come out. So she had me talk to him, if he was still around to talk to, in that chair right across from me.

I finally gave in. There was anger. I wanted to call him names. I wanted to tell him just how unfair he was being, to throw this extra burden and pain on everyone around him, including me. I told him that I hurt. That I missed him, that he was so unfair to have me fight on in my struggle, but for him to go first. I told him of my pain, and my tears fell. At points, the room was silent except for my sobs. 

My therapist helped me when the words failed. She guided me in speaking out my feelings, trying to persuade me to say certain words that might help, which I did if they were true. And that way, the anger and the sense of unfairness were out. I finally released that knot in my heart.

But as we ended… I told him. 

I understand his pain. I know why he did it. I miss him. I don’t agree with his choice. But I love him, and I want him to rest now. For as long as he needs to. 

And that he’s beautiful.

Grief hasn’t relinquished its hold. As I told my therapist, the toughest part of grief in depression, is that I don’t know where depression has its hold, and where grief has taken over. I don’t know why I feel a certain way, and whether it’s right. All I know is that I grieve a loss of someone special to me, someone who’d made a difference to others and to me, someone who was struggling in the midst of his pain to love those around him, because he knew how much love they in turn needed.

I grieve for my loss – our loss. I grieve for his absence. I grieve for his pain. I grieve that he had to go through what he went through. Most of all, I grieve that in the last moment, he was probably more alone than he ever was in his whole life. But he had to be, to finish what he wanted to do. 

I’ll still grieve now and then, even as I struggle to stay alive. His loss is another reason to fight on – I don’t want my wife or kids or loved ones to go through this pain by my own doing. But for now, the sadness lingers, and the little things remind me of him so much.

And the pain lingers on.

<< 69. Anatomy of a Meltdown | Home | 71. “I want to kill myself. I’m a criminal.” >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.