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Coping with Suicide

How do we deal with loss? How do we let ourselves mourn when we feel like we could have or should have done more? When mental health claims the life of someone you love or care about, how can we not help but blame ourselves.

"I should have called."

"I should have to him how much he meant."

"I should have realized he wasn't in a good place."

I wish everyone who takes their life could hear all of the words we say about them after they are gone. I wish they could hear the fond memories, the impact they had on our lives, the laughs and smiles they brought us.

But they can't.

It has been egregiously difficult for me to formulate this post. I lost a fellow artist, mental health warrior, and friend. His absence is felt so thoroughly by my little home-town's community. Fond memories and pictures have been shared all over social media, and I can't help but think, I wish he could have seen this. I wish he could have know how loved he was. I wish he could have known the stories of laughter and friendship every person who knew him have shared.

I wish my words were magic and could mend all of the broken and empty hearts left in the wake of this loss.

For anyone who has ever lost someone to suicide, here's what I say:

>Please, please, do not blame yourself for their actions. It is not your fault.

>Reach out and talk to someone. Honor their memory by working through your feelings and not isolating yourself.

I don't think the pain ever truly leaves us. My aunt took her life when I was in middle school, and I my heart still drops thinking about her. However, what I always try to do is keep her in my memories, She was an avid animal lover, and every time I see a creature in need, I think of her, and honor her memory by helping in any way I can.

For my friend, art, playing in the mud, and odd cat names will always make me think of him. My time in high school theatre with that wonderful, silly soul will always bring a smile to my face. The numerous phone calls and texts we shared over mental health will always remind me we all need to hear we are not alone.

So how do we survive losing someone?

We smile at all that reminds us of them.

We talk to friends, family, and a doctor.

We lift up and cheer on those who are battling mental illness.

We live intentionally, telling those around us how much they mean to us, because it is so much better to say it to them, than say it to their memory.

We live a full and happy life.

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