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The Playground Days Are Over

Michael sent his raw and personal story of loss to CALM in the hope that it might help just one person feel less alone. One would be enough…

I had never done this before. Standing at his grave clutching coronations; perhaps his parents would visit and know that they symbolised lost affection? At least they would know that for a few minutes of the day somebody else was thinking about him. Oh god, since he died when hadn’t his face appeared in the back of my mind? In my dreams? Permanently transfixed running around the playground in our primary school years, my strongest memories of him and perhaps the most haunting. He was happy then. I was even mentioned at his eulogy; apparently those years were the happiest of his entire life.

That was a lifetime ago, he was always older than me. I’ve been older than him for a while now. This isn’t even his grave, it’s just a stone with his name on it. The only place he exists is inside my memory, he’s only kept alive by those who remember him. He had the ability to look beyond the obvious, perhaps he would know the purple coronations also hinted at unpredictability. Nobody knew he was going to take his own life, still so many unanswered questions to this very day.

Only in films did I know that the answer to a question could knock you off your feet. My parents caught me off balance, I should have sat down like they had told me to. One of my best friends, somebody who fulfilled a group trio I was in, now gone. He didn’t even tell me. I didn’t even make an effort to see him for over a year.

How the regret hurts. Guilt bites. Could I have saved him? Was he really suffering from depression the whole of this time? Did his philosophical quest drive him to madness? He would have been one of the top contemporary philosophers, nobody could beat him in debate. His mind was fierce – what a fucking waste. Grief rips through the mind like a flood; words cannot express the mixed emotions to this very day. He isn’t alive, there is now a void left within me; I never stop thinking about his parents.

There is no such thing as healing. Each day you learn to manage and over 2,000 days later I’m now at a place where I can write this article. It’s still difficult, and if you’re reading this having gone through a similar situation, I probably can’t help you. All I can do is share this short story of tragedy and loss – when my friend lost his life it caused ripples of pain across his friends, family, and anybody else he has touched. Ripples build, his family bore the brunt of it.

He committed suicide.

For some reason those words seem blasphemous to write, almost shameful. It shouldn’t be like that though. Neither should it be celebratory. Somebody once told me that suicide should be respected; shame on those who keep those from dying just because they want them in their life, they said. I usually respect freedom of enquiry but that comment made me angry. Suicide is never right – depression is an illness that should be detected and treated.

Today I’m happy, but in my head and heart I know that I’ll never forget my friend. That’s the most important thing. Life goes on and, in time, I’ll find ways to pay tribute to him.

I hope my voice, this little post and insight into my life, tells you that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you’ve been affected or bereaved by suicide, you can find some information at Support After Suicide

photo credit: Pushing My Swing via photopin (license)

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