Grief is something we all experience at some point in our lives. It could be grieving the end of a relationship, a friendship, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one. Everyone experiences grief differently but we all have to accept that grief will hit us one day. No one knows how long it will last or how bad it will feel. You just have to go through it and it will get better.
When it comes to a death of a loved one, you don’t really get better. You just learn how to live with it. You will have days where you’re fine and accepting of your situation. And then there are other days where grief overcomes you and you have no idea how you’re going to go on. But you will.
Sometimes when my clients are overwhelmed with grief and are unable to verbalize their grief, I suggest writing a letter. A lot of them find it helpful and feel a lot better afterwards. So, after experiencing my own grief after a friend of mine died last year, I decided to take my own advice and I wrote him a letter. And I’m going to share it with all of you.
I still can’t believe that you’re gone. And to make it worse, I can’t believe that I found out 3 months after the fact. I was angry with you for not reaching out to me after we said that we were going to go out for drinks to catch up. I also had been super busy since the last time we spoke in July. Two of my friends were in their last trimesters of pregnancy, I was preparing for a baby shower, studying for an exam, teaching a class, and working full-time. July-December was a complete blur to me and I am now slowly coming back into my normal routine. So on top of the fact that I was annoyed with you, I have to be honest and say that I was too busy to really notice how long it had been since we had spoken.
So there I am, Tuesday, December 3rd around 10:15 a.m. just getting to my office after teaching my class and I’m on the phone with my best friend while snooping around on my Facebook (I’m quite the multi-tasker) and I see that someone left a comment on your page that made no sense to me. My best friend is telling me something on the phone and I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth: “Oh My God, David died. Wait, I don't get it. I have to call you back”. That’s when I scroll through all of the comments on your page from your friends and family posting pictures up of you and writing to you about how much they miss you and I literally felt like I was in the twilight zone. My first thought was that this was a terrible joke or that I was on someone else’s page. Then I thought, David must have gotten into some terrible kind of trouble and had to fake his death. Who even thinks something like that? This very lost and confused girl does. I sent two facebook messages to two people (Michele & Cynthia) hoping that they could fill me in on the sick joke that was on your facebook page and that’s when they told me about the accident. I even googled it, “David Mercado, motorcycle accident, saw mill, yonkers" and for some reason, that’s when it really registered in my head. And I just felt a sharp pain in my chest….For you, for your mom, for your family….
December 3rd forever changed my life. (It sounds so cliché, I know) At my job, I hear about people dying all the time. Mothers who have lost their sons due to suicide or murder, people who have lost their brothers, women who have lost their husbands, but this time it happened to me. I lost a good friend who was funny, caring, and one of the sweetest people I have ever met. 25 years old... with your entire life ahead of you…your mother’s only biological child…and my friend. How can I claim to be your friend when it took me 3 months to even find out that you were gone? I was so embarrassed when Cynthia asked me how we were friends because the first thing that came to my head was that she had to be wondering “What kind of friend is this girl if now is when she’s finding out?” It was embarrassing. But you know what, I’m over that. Yes, I was 3 months late but my pain is just the same as if I would’ve found out sooner. No, I didn’t get to say my goodbye and go to your funeral, which makes me so sad, but I’m grieving your loss just like everyone else who did attend. No, I didn’t get to give your mom a hug and tell her how sorry I am for her loss in person but the moment I found out, she was the first person I thought about and I have been thinking about her and praying for her since. And no, we weren’t super close; we spoke every couple of months for just a few texts where we would cover the basics: Our relationships, family, our dogs, school and work. But the last time we spoke was different. We actually spoke for a lot longer because we were talking about your Dreams Vacation and I quickly let you know that I was not interested as I had already heard all about it from other friends (Even though you insisted that I would be great at selling vacations..HA!) And then we said we would go out for drinks and I was really looking forward to it. And it never happened.
I am heartbroken. And I miss you so much and you might even find it weird that I do considering that we barely spoke in the last couple of years. The last time I saw you was at the Cheesecake Factory. I was with a friend going for dinner and you were working there. You were mad at me for not telling you that I was going beforehand but that fake anger shifted in 3 seconds and then you were all smiles. You flashed me that huge smile of yours for the entire 5 minutes that we were catching up. That was your trademark. I wish we would’ve gone out like we were supposed to. I envisioned us catching up gossiping like two girls and you making fun of my terrible driving. And of course you lecturing me on relationships (not that you were an expert). Speaking of your lectures, the last thing I remember you telling me when we were talking about relationships was something along the lines of “You deserve to be happy and to be with someone who makes you feel amazing”. Just know that even though I didn’t really respond to it, I heard you and it’s always in my head.
What I’m mostly sad about is that I didn’t get a chance to really tell you how awesome I thought you were and how thankful I am to have known you and how much I appreciated your kindness to both me and my family. And most importantly, how sorry I am that I didn’t really let our friendship grow as I really wanted it to. I let a lot of things get in the way of us being friends, always thinking that there was a ton of time for us to hang out or for us to talk. That’s the thing about time. You never know when it’s up. We all constantly hear to appreciate people before they’re gone and to tell people that we love them and to let people know how much they mean to us when they’re alive, not when they’re gone. And then “something” happens to us when those things finally make sense. And that “something” happened to me. I lost my friend. You’ll never bring me over a brownie with ice cream at Red Lobster (even though I did not ask for it) and I’ll never hear you say the most random things in conversations. (I’ll do you the favor and I won’t even give an example of one lol). I saw your cousin Eric’s video on Facebook where he talked about knowing that you made it into heaven because of a dime that he found with your birthdate and your initial on it. I don’t know him but his video was so comforting for me. I would normally not believe something like that. But I do. I’m not sure if I really believe it or if I just want to believe it to feel some type of comfort knowing that you are where you are supposed to be. But I know that you are in heaven. And I know that you can see me and hear me. I will carry you always in my heart. I hope you left this Earth knowing you ARE special. That people love you and always will even though you’re not physically here anymore. And I hope you know that your spirit will last more than lifetime. That’s the thing about death. Your body is what leaves us. But your soul, the memories people have of you, the love in people’s hearts for you….Well that just lasts forever.....
For any of you that are experiencing your own grief or just miss someone and want to express how you feel, I really do suggest getting your thoughts down on paper. There are no rules on how to do so. If you have any other suggestions on how to cope with grief, please share in the comments below.
Thank you for reading!