A few months ago I received some truly awful news that one of my friends had died. The first emotions I experienced were shock, sadness and confusion at her passing away at such a young age when she was vibrant, fit and healthy… then the next piece of news came – her life was taken in a truly violent and gut wrenching way by somebody that was supposed to love and protect her.
My first reaction was sickness, that awful, physical reaction of stomach-churning nausea that creeps up on you as you try to process the news that you have been given. Then I moved into trying to make sense of it, asking a million questions and trying to obtain answers that deep down I knew would never actually eventuate, and even if they did, they wouldn’t change the outcome or bring my beautiful friend back. Finally, I moved into deep sadness and empathy for her family and close friends as I had somewhat of an understanding of the pain that they would be feeling and I knew that there was nothing that anybody could do to ease their pain. I felt helpless.
With any sort of death there is the obvious pain and sadness that we experience over the loss of somebody that we loved or cared for regardless of their age, health or circumstances.
Then there is all the extra baggage that comes with losing somebody in an unexpected and traumatic way. It’s like a whole other layer of very deep emotions such as pain, confusion, anger, despair and hopelessness that you go through that nobody truly understands unless you have experienced it yourself.
I am a very strong empath and it doesn’t take much for me to connect with the feelings of others, however in this particular circumstance I felt like I was reliving my own story all over again, for I lost my own father in very traumatic circumstances and thinking of my friends parents, sister, sister-in-law, family and friends transported me right back in the middle of my own memories.
When you first hear the devastating news of an unexpected death of someone you love it is an immediate gut punch, a sickening disbelief, your mind then sends you into denial, and then quite often it’s straight into pure shock and paralysing fear that this news may actually be true. It’s so hard to actually get your head around the fact that this person that you love so much and spent your life with is not there anymore. Physically they may still be here, but their soul and spirit has begun the journey to its next destination and there is nothing you can do to bring it back, and no goodbye that they will ever hear.
Then you move from the shock and devastation of your traumatic loss into realising that you now need to share this news with other people that loved them as much as you did, and to be honest with you for me it was nearly as painful as hearing the news myself.
I remember having to make the calls to tell people of my Dad‘s passing.
I sat on the front porch of my family home staring at my phone, staring at the name of the person who I loved and who I had to call, knowing that my phone call was going to change their life.
It was such an overwhelming experience knowing that I had to share with them news that was going to devastate, traumatise and damage them for ever.
I remember so clearly looking down at the phone in my hand, it was shaking so badly I thought I might drop it, my eyes were so full of tears I could hardly see, my breath was laboured and shallow and I was fighting with my stomach not to vomit. Once I finally pushed through the pain and fear and dialled their number I remember hearing the ringing on the line, stifling the urge to hang up and pretend it was all a dream and willing myself to be strong in this moment.
I needed them to answer because I needed them to know, but in all honesty I didn’t want them to answer because I didn’t want to have to tell them of the news and make it real.
The voice that answers on the end of the phone is always a happy one because they think you’re ringing just to check in and say hi, catch up on what’s going on and have a chat but then they hear your voice and they know somethings wrong and then panic sets in for them. In that moment my emotions begin once again bubbling up to the surface ready to explode, but I know that I have to control them because if I break down with no explanation on the phone they’ll be sent into a panic thinking the worst and not knowing who it’s concerning. Somehow I mustered the strength to share the lifechanging news that my father had passed away, and then having to follow that information with the sentence that will forever haunt me “he took his own life”.
I remember clearly hearing the words coming out of my mouth and actually having a bit of an out of body experience that even though I was saying these words was this actually even my reality, had this actually even happened to me, to my family? Then another wave of pain comes as you hear the people that you love break down, cry, question everything and you have to try to be a source of support to them in your own pain. Then once you finally disconnect the phone from them, you look at the next person in your phone and know you have to go through that all over again.
These moments have been playing through my head over and over during the last few weeks since my beautiful friend’s passing. Although her circumstances are very different to my Dad’s, it takes me back to that same trauma, the shock, the disbelief and then realising that you will never be able to say goodbye. Sometimes for me the unspoken goodbye is the hardest part.
I can’t stop thinking about her family having to tell everyone what happened to her, having to relive the horror of the way that she passed from this world, having to support their friends and family whilst trying to deal with their own crippling grief. There is something truly life altering about someone you love passing in tragic and unexpected circumstances. It changes you forever, it changes who you are as a person and it changes the make-up of your soul, for a piece of it goes with them when they leave you.
The road through grief is a long winding hilly, bumpy, complicated and challenging path to walk and it is so different for everyone. As somebody who has walked on this particular road for the last six years and continue to walk this path every single day of my life, what I can tell you is that it truly is a journey and I am committed to sharing my particular journey with you all in the hopes that there is some small speck of support, understanding or comfort that you may find in my words.
To my gorgeous friend’s family – my heart is with you all. I do not fully understand what you are experiencing, however I want you all to know that what I do understand that it is in the worst times of your life that you also get to see the best in humanity. Grab onto everyone that is there for you, accept every single tiny piece of support that you feel will help you survive for now. Sometimes just surviving a day at a time is the best that we can do, and that is ok.
This is only a small sliver of my experience and I share it as a way for me to share my story and continue to heal from my own trauma, and also to hopefully reach even one person that may need to hear that it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be broken, scared, afraid and terrified of the future after you experience a life altering trauma. There will be a rainbow on the other side of the rain, it may take weeks, months, years or decades, but I promise with the right people around you, investment into healing yourself and working through your pain you can lead a happy life again and honour those that have passed in the best possible way – by living your best life in their memory.
Stacey 💜 xx