Grieving a Suicide and Obsessing About Death
Life is a strange bird indeed.
I first heard this phrase from one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever been lucky enough to be able to know. She was the epitome of exuberant manic depression, was a grade above me before she killed herself under a bridge. I remember the day, not the date, as all of the stoner crowd that loved her was taken aback, emotionally battered and brought down into the low point of collective depression.
KT was section editor of Arts & E, bringing a fierce creativity to the media group that was formidable in content and leaps and bounds above what anyone else could have imagined. We smoked weed together a few times outside of school, and did some pharmaceuticals under forest canopy in our sacred smoking spot. Our time together was brief, and unfairly interrupted by the struggle that she was going through, making all of my experiences look like pebbles compared to the monolithic rock of ages that she was lifting. KT was the first of many People of Light I would accomplice as life rivered through its many bends and L-turns, the type of girl whose energy changes a room upon entry, always radiating this infectious positivity that even if you weren’t lucky enough to know her, you immediately
felt her presence.
She overdosed under this bridge, perhaps because of how she felt about her place in society. It’s hard to say. It came as a shock to the newspaper department, as some or most of us had developed an ethereal relationship with this P.O.L., and found it extremely difficult to remain in class. The administration felt the need to make an announcement over the intercom, in a school full of 2,400 students, explaining that her death would be remembered and if anyone needed a therapy session that resource would be available. The ones who were closest to her, if only a handful, we skipped most of the sessions that were provided to us, the ones that truly knew her, in the hopes that we would not form a death pact and all jump off into the dark to join her.
It was a weird time, feeling this impression of death and uncertainty about life and my own attempts on my life. To cope, besides skipping most of my classes for a two-to-three week grieving period, I put my depression under my bed. I wrote about death, obsessed over death and prophesied how death is healthy or hurtful to our species. The Passenger was secluded at this point, understanding somehow that now was not the time for getting angry at trifle bullshit. It was a time to mourn a fellow soldier in the war against the establishment and The Man, as best as possible while trying to resume daily life. Parents couldn’t understand. Teachers tried, even crying with some of the girls in-group to no effect.
I was never good at dealing with death. The future I could have in (ghost)writing elegies and eulogies only relies on how much emotional fortitude I possessed at the time. Those close enough were invited by her parents to the funeral, held on a Sunday at a beautifully-appointed Lutheran church, pews packed with a good number of adults and the afflicted in-crowd.
The best I can do to pay homage to the dead is write, either in prose, lyrics or T.S. Eliot-styled verse. This entire period of time sucked, bringing about benders across the board, inviting me into different crowds with different fascinations (e.g. hallucinogens, stimulants, downers) in different stages of life, out of school or not.
The notion of death would follow me with obsessive tendencies, loving the feeling of the lack of love derisively pushed from beyond the grave. Death did not faze me. I was unable to produce tears, apathetic in keeping my true emotions at bay. And I was doing was trying to avoid looking too emotional in public, however accepted post-humous scenarios are.
Years later I would find myself reading anonymous writer Supervert’s “Necrophilia Variations,” not because I was interested in performing fellatio on a freshly-dead corpse, but because death took me further away from my life. It was a dark place, again. Watching only horror movies because of the feeling I got when someone was offed, regardless of however deserving. Or reading Poe and contemplating on dorm ceilings how it would feel to bury a body only to hear it beating every night. The macabre was a huge source of inspiration, along with drinking alone with my thoughts, frequently. The suicidal thoughts evolved into homicidal tendencies not exacted. In one manic state I picked up dead animals and froze them in our basement freezer, for “research” purposes. The family joked about it, even if I had no idea what I was doing or why it was so important to study a dead squirrel’s anatomy hours before class high as a motherfucker on pot and painkillers, not to mention the antidepressant and anti-psychotic regime I was reluctant to force down my throat every night. The book itself served as an indicator of where my head was at, looking up murders and murderers from the past and attempting to solve a crime that had already been solved.
The manic poet was suddenly a detective in homicide, studying blood spatter and body positioning to come to my own conclusions about a case. Pointless. This is a pointless. It kept my thoughts out of school as I made the three-hour drive up to Selinsgrove in the fall of 2012. Accepting death was a large part of this transition period, even years after KT left this earth. The death of a relationship is eerily similar to that of an actual expiration; both require grievance, tears and introspection to mourn. The move itself would be a form of rebirth, as I left Northern Virginia to make the voyage to a brand new something, a place where I could reengineer, reprogram myself a new set of values and obscure feelings on life and living. Death doesn’t always have to be ever-depressed, is what this period of time told me. Would there be more? You betcha.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic