Respecting her choice…accepting a friend’s suicide

photo by Emma Stephens

Losing a friend is hard. Letting go of someone who has chosen to not be in your life anymore, losing someone to an illness or an accident is horrible. Losing a close friend to suicide holds it’s own special sadness and for me, presented an entirely unexpected road.  It was several months after her death before I realized that I had been in a full blown depression over it. I just couldn’t get my head around it. None of us could. She had been my friend since high school and it’s hard to describe just what a special person she was. One of the things that is so incongruous with the way she died is the fact that she was so incredibly joyful. She always made me laugh, she loved to have a good time and friends and family meant everything to her. When I lived in France, it was just before the internet exploded, so I was pretty isolated from my Stateside life for six years. My only real connection came from letters. Remember those? Even then, they were a scarce commodity and I cherished every one that came in my little mailbox…reading them over and over and writing right back. She was one of the very, very few who wrote me consistently. Not only in those years, but throughout our lives. Long, six to ten page letters just full of stories and what was happening and questions for me. She was one of those friends who moved mountains to be with you and when she was with you, she gave you all the shine. When someone really lets you know how much they care about you, when they show you like that, the hole that their absence leaves is large. So, I was sad and I was mad for a long time. For months and months I tried to figure out what happened…to listen for her promptings because I knew she would try to tell us what the message was she was sending. I knew this wasn’t her plan. It was a rash, split second reaction to something. I needed to give her a way back. After months of this, I said to myself that it was just wrong and awful and I’m just going to be sad about this for the rest of my life. And I sort of left it like that. It wasn’t for another year before I began to realize that I needed to really look at this again and reframe my thinking around it. I was stuck. Stuck in the sadness and the wrongness. I realized that I indeed needed to respect her choice. I know, please. I cried buckets. The words “respect” and “choice” just stuck in my throat, but I knew it was the way to come out on the other side. I knew it was the way to honor her. Even if I still believed that it was not her plan, that we will never know exactly what happened that day or why, I had to accept that in that final moment, she made a choice and I needed to respect and honor her choice, her life, her death, and ultimately her journey. And toTRUST and yes, surrender to it. To know that it was so much bigger than me, bigger than I could ever grasp.  I had to trust that she was where she needed to go. In so many instances now I hear her voice, prodding me, cheering me, allowing me to see myself through her eyes. I think less and less about the way she died and more and more about the way she lived.

Oh, and the chickflick from last night? It was great. She would have loved it!


About Alisa

I'm a woman in "the middle place" living in a town we call "Mayberry". I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, cancer survivor.....taking care of my family and my people the best I can, living a life of quiet dignity as loudly as I can.
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One Response to Respecting her choice…accepting a friend’s suicide

  1. Aga says:

    Thank you for that post. It’s great. People have tendency to criticize and make it about themselves. I didn’t know your friend but I can say that with this aggressive and negative attitude to suicide many will never talk about their choice till they take it. And then it shocks everyone. For all those who chose suicide over time of thinking it would be much easier and less painful being able to say their goodbyes without being scared of judgement or even commitment to mental ward.
    I’m happy that my kids and few of my friends are not close minded and accept the fact it may happen, that it is on the cards for me. Not as an impulse of the moment, as the well thought and contemplated choice I want respected.

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