A friend of mine killed herself last year. We were not particularly close. We went to graduate school together, and had seen each other maybe 3-4 times in the last few years.
I am still not over the shock of it.
If I wrote down a list of everyone I knew, in order of likelihood to commit suicide, she would have been at or near the very bottom. She was so vivacious. Playful. She laughed easily, was cynical at precisely the right times, and equipped with a sharp bullshit detector. She seemed happy. Good. Strong. She was young: just 35.
The shock came with shame and embarrassment. How could this person, who I shared a classroom with, and who’s company I enjoyed so much, have been in that much pain? How could I not have noticed? Was there something I could have done? Would a quick email or text ever have made a difference? Are there other friends in my life who are in similar agony, but hide it so well?
I wanted to compare my inner pain to hers. How bad did it get, and for how long was she feeling it? Have I ever felt that awful? How much do I routinely hide my pain and my true self from others? What would people say if I took my life?
She took hers in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2015. I crave to know more. I want to know why. Asking her family would be wrong. They don’t need their pain dredged up to satisfy my need for an answer. I doubt there is an answer. New Year's is coming up again. People are asking each other what they are doing to celebrate. Her, and her last days, are all I can think about.
It seems odd to call this feeling “grief”. We were not close. But grief is the only word that makes sense. I grieve that I can never talk to this person again, never empathize with their pain, never smile or laugh with them. We can never connect again.
That is grief. A nagging emptiness. Over time, it shrinks.
But it never fully disappears.