Friday, November 20, 2015

On Losing a Friend: What I Wish I Had Known

     When I was seventeen, I lost a dear friend that went to Sunday school and youth group with me, and who I sat by in English class. He was one of the kindest people I've ever met, and one of the most genuine friends I've ever had, even though our friendship was short. On a normal Wednesday, he said "See you later" after class and went to gym as I went to French. That was the last time I ever saw him.
   When my friend died, I wanted an adult to explain it to me. I wanted my pastor or my parents or teachers to give me a reason why my friend had died, I wanted an answer. The thing about loss is, no one has an answer. Even though I can't give you an answer, I can tell you what I learned through losing my friend. If nothing else, I want you to know that you're not alone.
     A few months after Scott died, someone asked me when I was going to "get over it". That question made me feel awful. I felt like I was being over dramatic and annoying, when what I was really doing was grieving. I have since learned that the death of a friend is not something you get over. You learn how to live with it, but it is always there. Sometimes in the middle of youth group, usually right after I laugh about something, I suddenly feel devastated that he is not there laughing with me, even though he has been gone for three years and probably would not still be going to youth group if he were still alive. Youth group is something that I always associated with him, and I have learned to allow myself to sometimes still feel sad that he isn't there. Don't ever criticize yourself for missing your friend, because missing them means you loved them.
One day, maybe months from now, maybe sooner, you will catch yourself laughing at something, and you shouldn't feel guilty about that. A moment of happiness does not mean that you have forgotten about your friend, or that you have stopped grieving. I have learned that grief is a process that can coexist with happiness. I no longer actively feel sad about my friend's death throughout my daily life, but sometimes when I drive by the football field on Friday night, or something funny or exciting happens that I wish I could tell him about, I feel just as sad as I did the day he died.
     I have learned that you can never love your friends too much. When I was in the early stages of being a teenager, I thought that it was weird to tell my friends, especially girls, that I loved them. A few weeks ago, I automatically told my friend I loved her before I hung up the phone, and I realized how much I have changed, mostly due to losing a close friend. You never know how much time you or anyone else has left, so it's important to love everyone as much as you can right now, and there's nothing weird about making sure they know you do. Life is shorter than you think, so take time to have fun. Laugh a lot, hug people, and stop worrying so much about things you can't change. Try not to hold grudges or have petty arguments.
     The greatest way to love someone is to make sure they know Jesus. When you're young, it's easy to think that death is something that only affects the elderly. My friend was young and strong, very athletic, and always smiled. I guess I thought he was invincible, but no human is. Because I know what he believed, and what I believe, I know that I will get to see him one day. I can't imagine how hard it is to lose someone if you aren't sure about that.
     I'm sorry you have to go through this, losing a friend is one of the worst feelings in the world, no matter how old you are. Let yourself feel sadness, allow people you trust to be your support system. You will get through this, and you will smile again. You are loved.

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