Coping with the loss of a loved one can be tough. To some, death often comes at a moment when they are unprepared for the person’s absence or an emotional crisis. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to realize that their best friend, mother, classmate or sister is truly gone. Death is inevitable, but know this: you are not alone.
Coping with suicide
Salazar, 17, lost her close friend, Nigel, to bullying. Nigel was ridiculed for being a male cheerleader. On the morning of Nigel’s suicide, America Salazar said, “Yesterday was a bad day our school. We were on lockdown for about 3 hours after school because they thought he was a threat [to the entire school,] but he wasn’t.”
Salazar will spend her last semester in middle school trying to make plans for a friend who did not deserve to die.
“How many suicides is it going to take for the bullying to stop?! It’s really sad that the only way Nigel felt his pain will go away was to end his life,” she expressed.
Salazar and a team of interested students grouped together to think of ways to help cope with his suicide. For example, America plans to petition other students to remember Nigel by posting ideas on Facebook. On Facebook she wrote, “Write a semi-colon on your wrist. I have one on today and I will have one on for the next days to come,” yet the remembrance does not stop there. In another post, she provided other ideas to students affected by Nigel’s passing. She said, “I want to get a whole bunch of red balloons, purple or blue. Whatever Nigel liked and tie a note telling Nigel whatever you wanted to say to him.” Salazar also expressed her feelings by writing and sharing Nigel’s story through social media.
“I hope the people who made fun of him realize how stupid and idiotic they were for making fun of him for loving his passion. He loved to cheerlead, what a big deal! He was sweet and he was doing what made him happy! He was enjoying life and people can’t respect that?” she states.
Learning to deal is the first step towards getting better. Salazar says, “I was talking to the psychiatrist. My eyes hurt from crying so much.”
“I thank everyone that helped today to try and make me feel better, even if I am not for a while,” she adds.
Most importantly Salazar expressed that crying is okay. She says, “Tonight I cried my eyes out. It was good to see his family at the night vigil. I like to thank everyone, friends who help me while I don’t feel okay.”
Teen suicide is prevalent in teens that are victims of bullying. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.” Wounds are not always physical, if you know of someone who is being bullied talk to a teacher, counselor, or parent. You might be saving a life!
Coping with the death of a family member
To some, the loss of a family member may be more difficult to handle. Although death affects everyone differently, Sarah Amaya, 15, says she lost her mother a year ago and getting over it is hardest now. Amaya says, “The day I found out she died I felt like something was missing. Later that same day my father was waiting to pick me up from school, which was weird because I’d always walk home. When we got home he says, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this…your mom died.’ I felt my heart fall to my stomach then to my feet. I was numb. I was in denial for a moment. She passed away in her sleep this morning like at 2a.m. My world was over. I felt this emptiness. I couldn’t accept it! My mother, my world, my best friend, my everything, gone? Couldn’t be! I just sat there as the reality of it all caved in on me, my sister had gone outside, but I just sat there, motionless, tears I couldn’t even feel, streaming down my face. Then I looked at my dad and studied his face. I saw grief.”
She explains the inner torment further. “I got phone calls asking me if I was okay and for once I was hones: ‘No, I’m not okay.’ Then it clicked, I didn’t want to speak to anyone, so many negative thoughts ran through my head at once so I went to my bathroom and sat on the floor. I was out of tears; I wanted to be where my mom was at. Life without my mom was meaningless to me… I would give anything to have my mother back, literally anything. I don’t think I can ever ‘get over it.’ She gave me life. Every day I am stuck with the emptiness that she is gone. Nobody and nothing could fulfill her place.”
These days, she deals with the pain by visiting her grave whenever she can. She says, “I talk to her and tell her what is new with me as though she were still present.”
Amaya adds, “To others dealing with death I would tell them that it is okay to cry. Surround yourself with loved ones. You are not alone. [I take comfort in telling them] that their loved ones are watching over. Be strong.”
Amaya says that her source of inspiration to live came from her mother. She said, “I thought back to a moment of when I lived with her. She and I had a conversation, she told me, ‘Life is bad, and I get it. Death happens naturally, you go when you go. You won’t end up in heaven if you’re the cause of your death. Stick it out; Life gets better I promise.’”
Everyone copes with grief differently, but expressing your feelings to a friend or family member will help the grieving process. You are not alone in this moment and have friends and family that will help you through this tough time.