This past April I lost a friend of mine and this week would have been his 19th birthday. Last night, before bed, I started to reflect on the experience and I thought about how little resources were available online. Everything online was about losing a parent or was guided towards adults, but I was 18 and felt like they did not apply. It made me feel alone and confused. This was the first time someone important to me had died and I didn’t know how to cope or what was normal.
So, I have decided to put together some tips on how to deal with death at a young age, in hopes of helping those who need it.
- You’re not alone. I met some wonderful people through the experience and I remember at the ceremony sharing tissues and hugging a stranger. You are all there because you love this person, so you already have something in common. You will learn new stories and see different sides of your friend. I believe each person there held a piece of T inside of them.
- Every person grieves differently. Some people internalize their feelings, some never stop crying, some become lethargic, the list goes on. Just because you are not grieving the same way as one of your friends DOES NOT DEVALUE YOUR RELATIONSHIP with the deceased. Not crying does not mean that you did not love them. Not seeking them out on every social media platform does not mean you did not care about their life.
- Celebrate their life. While you need to give yourself time to mourn, you need to focus on the good memories. Appreciate the time you had and the lessons you learned.
- Be with your friends (and family). As soon as I got home I felt an urge to be with my friends. Explaining everything was becoming hard to do and I just wanted to be with people who would not ask questions and who would just UNDERSTAND. T was always welcoming and we would have days were we would almost live at his house, so for his funeral we all stayed at his mom’s. It was really comforting to be around people who were going through the same thing, and who loved T. We all healed and bonded together over that weekend.
- Take some time to yourself. Times like these can be overwhelming, so taking time to yourself can help you stay calm, cry, relax and reflect. Try going to the ocean, going for a light walk, or meditating. I did the 30 day yoga challenge during this time and I found it helped a lot. It was nice knowing that I would have 20 minutes or so to myself where I can not think and relax.
- Stay true to them. I found the funeral easier to handle knowing that T would have loved every moment. Make sure the funeral represents them.
- You can look at their old profiles but don’t obsess. Obsessively looking over every single thing may make it hurt more. You want to be able to reflect on your friendship in the right state of mind
- Laugh. You are allowed to be happy. And don’t guilt yourself for feeling happy. T was the kind of person who took every opportunity and lived life with no regrets. He was accomplished and HAPPY. SO HAPPY. and I vowed to live more like T.
- You may not think you can/want to move on but you can and you will. Moving on may seem like a disservice to their memory but it’s what’s best for you. Over time it will hurt a little less, but you will never forget them. I still think about him almost every day but when I think of him I’m happy (most of the time). And I know that’s what he would want.