"We are more afraid of excellence than of failure." -Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
Question #90773 posted on 01/09/2018 12:38 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Three weeks ago I had a close friend take his life and it really bummed me out. He was always really happy, funny, but had his down moments too. I figured by now that I would be able to "come to peace" with his death, but I'm finding myself constantly depressed. While I would have my moments of being bummed out before his death, I find myself to have more episodes of feeling "tired" of life in general.(NOTE: I don't mean like I want to take my life. More like I'm just really bummed) My father has chronic depression and takes medication for it, so I guess my question is(finally) am I taking this harder than normal people? I heard people who have depression can generally trace it back to a genetic link that makes them more likely to have it. I know the board isn't supposed to offer medical advice, but I was hoping someone with experience dealing with this could advise me on if I should seek the counseling services at BYU and/or talk to my family. I'm scared to bring this up with my dad in particular, because he has a habit of calling things like that only for weak people. IDK, I just feel like I want to talk to someone, but I can't find anyone I trust enough and I don't want to have the counseling department at BYU rat me out to my parents on this matter. Thanks for answering this super long question, and I appreciate any and all criticism.

-Hopefully Anonymous

A:

Dear Hopeful,

Nothing I can say will stop the pain of loss. I am glad that you asked this question because these types of questions are why I wanted to write for the Board. I hope that something I will write during my tenure as a writer will help someone. I don't think you are taking this harder than "normal people" because you are a normal person. It is hard to get over something so tragic. You need to be able to give yourself some time to process and bounce back. And there is no "average" time period for how long it should take you.

The other writers present great information as far as bereavement goes, so I won't touch on that aspect here. I just want you to know that BYU Counseling is a service that you should be taking advantage of. They won't be able to "fix" this, but they can help you process this tragic event in your life. Also, if you don't want them talking to your parents, they won't. They are very good at keeping things confidential. In fact, that is a HUGE part of their jobs. Trust me, my father is one of them.

I hope you will seek professional help, because they are on campus for a reason. You are not weak for feeling down after this, you are normal. 

Good luck!

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear Friend,

You don't deserve criticism. You don't deserve to feel like a bad person for loving your friend and mourning his death. That's part of being human, and I hope you know that your feelings are 100% valid, you are allowed to feel this way even though you feel like you should have "come to peace" with it by now, and you are not weak. You are normal to feel sad about the suicide of a close friend; deeply grieving is part of deeply loving. 

Bereavement is defined as "a period of mourning after a loss, especially after the death of a loved one," and it's totally normal and even expected. In fact, psychologists differentiate between bereavement and depression, because deep feelings of depression and loss can last quite a while after a death without being remotely pathological. You may feel like other people are handling his death better than you, but don't compare your experience with theirs. You are not the same as them, your relationship with your friend was not the same as theirs, and you're each allowed to process his loss differently. Don't beat yourself up for processing your friend's death in this way, because you really don't need to feel that additional weight on top of mourning your friend. 

But whether your grieving is bereavement or depression or whatever else, talking to a therapist can help you. Counseling at BYU is completely anonymous, and the counselors will face legal repercussions if they "rat you out" to your parents against your wishes, so if this isn't something you want to talk to your parents about, that's okay. You can still seek professional support for it. Counseling isn't reserved only for "weak people," it's a useful tool to help all people through whatever they may be going through in life, and if you feel like you need some extra support, I hope you'll consider it.

I am so sorry that your friend committed suicide, and that you're still dealing with the aftereffects. I can't even begin to imagine how hard that would be, and you have my fullest sympathy and support. But you can do it, friend. I believe in you, and I'll be rooting for you.

-Alta

A:

Hopeful,

Everyone processes differently. Your process is normal. Your feelings are valid. In my experience, talking to others is really important. Talking to your family and getting professional help are both great ideas. If there is no one you feel naturally inclined to talk to in your personal life (which is actually very normal as well), professional help is even more important. 

My experience with bereavement comes from a different situation, but you have described a lot of what I felt. A boy I knew my whole life died unexpectedly a couple years ago. Totally wrecked me. Couldn't eat, sleep, or do anything remotely productive for weeks. I questioned everything I knew about God. That tired feeling? That's so so real. For me I think the tired feeling was just knowing it was a long time to go through before things are fixed.

I also felt like I must be weak for not feeling better sooner than I did. I actually felt guilty for visiting the grave-site, posting on his birthday, writing down memories, and asking people to talk me through it. I felt dumb for doing those things because it didn't feel like it was my place. I felt so much insecurity about my mourning that it almost prevented me from doing it. The only thing that helped was how positive his family was about it. I noticed that his loved ones were so grateful for him to be remembered and loved. Because of that I felt free to grieve and openly memorialize without shame. They made me feel like I was helping keep him alive. 

I hope you don't feel shame like I did. I really hope it's just a me thing. But if you do feel that way I hope you find positive feedback for your grief, because it really is a positive thing. Grief is borne of love for another human being. There is never shame in that. You never have to hold back for fear of being weak.

Grieve as long and as hard as you need to. Counseling is a good guard rail. It will help make sure you can grieve hard without losing sight of the goal, which is to get moving again. I want to pull a little for talking to people in your personal life as well. If it's too much that is totally fine and you don't have to do it at all. But there is a lot of healing in grieving together. It may feel like talking about it is a drag to others. But actually other people who are struggling benefit from hearing you talk through it. When you are willing to be vulnerable and sad, it gives others permission to do the same. I honestly believe a lot of the grieving process happens through other people doing their grieving.

I've dealt with a lot of death throughout my life. I've surveyed, and it's not normal how many people I've lost over the years. The crazy thing is that some deaths just hit you harder and resonate longer than others. And it's completely unpredictable how it will effect you. Some you think will hurt you forever and they end up letting you go early. Others you calculate as low-impact but they turn out to be the most jarring. Don't worry. Some death feels right, and some doesn't and none of it is your fault. We can't always predict or control how things impact us. But we can learn to be okay with that and with our feelings. 

Best wishes and prayers for days.

Babalugats