Suicide and Forgiveness: What I’ve Learned From a Friend Leaving This Realm
Note: This post may be triggering for some people. Please read at your own discretion.
For those of you who know me personally, you know that a little over a year ago a friend of mine chose to leave this realm after it had all become too much for him. This man’s name was Matt.
I’m not sure I will ever forget the moment that I found out. I was at my Naturopathic School during a testing weekend, sitting on a massage table as I took a few moments to check my phone. Drained from the testing weekend, I sat there to catch up on messages and emails and as I logged onto Facebook, I saw a post that made my heart sink deeper than I had ever felt.
The post read “RIP Matt S.” My mind was racing as I looked at the words and then at the friend’s profile who posted it. She and I had worked with Matt years ago and now my breaths were quick and shallow as I went to Matt’s profile. There, I saw dozens of posts and comments of people sharing their condolescences, their grief and their well wishes for him. And then, I saw his goodbye video he had posted just a few hours prior. He had said goodbye and then… left.
I sat in shock for a long time. Having disappeared from my testing weekend, my instructor found me sobbing on the massage table and held me for a long time.
Matt can’t be dead, I told myself over and over. No, no, no. Matt cannot be dead.
For months I was haunted by his goodbye video, by the idea that the brightest, most loving human I had ever meant had now left this realm, by the idea that I hadn’t spoken to him in years and now he was gone.
In fact, Matt and I hadn’t spoken in over 5 years.
For many nights I sat at my altar, candles lit and sage burning, as I reflected upon the man I once knew. I could hear his loud laugh and see the way his face twisted when he was smiling. My fingers traced the ring he had made for me over and over as my mind attempted to understand that Matt really was gone.
If you have lost someone dear to you, my heart hurts for you. It is a pain that is unfathomable except to those who have experienced it.
The biggest thing that continued to arise for me over and over again multiple times a day was a wave of deep guilt and grief. I felt guilty that I hadn’t reached out over the last few years. Why hadn’t I just sent him a text to see how he was doing? Was I afraid that he was mad at me? Did I think he just wouldn’t respond?
I began to feel guilt about my entire relationship with him, even feeling guilt for events years ago. Maybe I should have just let him kiss me. Maybe I should have dated him. If I would have dated him and given him love, would he still be here?
And while these thoughts and feelings of mine were very valid, I could also feel that they were not serving anyone. Not him or myself.
Something that shocked me after his death was seeing how some of his friends and family members reacted. People were so angry at him. They judged him for abandoning them. Their rage overshadowed their sorrow. This was one of the saddest things to for me to witness. I realized that even in death, some people are afraid to forgive.
If you have lost someone or if you have contemplated leaving this realm, remember that forgiveness is what we all need. Losing Matt was devastating, but over the months of mourning and loss, I learned to forgive both myself and him. I felt compassion and love for Matt, for he must have felt like he really had nowhere else to go. And I learned to forgive myself and all of the things I felt I didn’t do.
Forgiveness in this world is so key, and yet so few of us learned of its importance. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Life is really too short and too precious to waste it feeling angry at someone. I wish I would have forgiven him a few years ago and just reached out. I pray his family forgives him and finds new ways to celebrate his legacy. I forgive myself for not knowing how to support him.
If you feel alone or are contemplating leaving this realm, please know that you can always reach out to us and we will hear you and support you unconditionally. You are not alone. We will be there to offer you the love you deserve. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to.
You can also call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
Let us all remember to forgive and love everyone in our lives.
I love you, Matt.