Dear Rachel: My Friend Passed Away
I just found out my friend died last week and I just want to cry, but at the same time, I want to not think about it because it hurts.
I am so sorry. *huge hug*
When someone close to you dies—especially when that someone had no business going anywhere—you have to look at a part of life that is frankly terrifying: the part where everything is fragile, where someone you love could be standing here one minute and then gone the next.
It’s not something we spend a whole lot of time thinking about. We can’t, because it’s too overwhelming. It’s kind of like flying in an airplane. You have to suspend thinking about certain things, like the fact that you’re hurtling through the air in a tin can (okay, not exactly, but you get my point) at 500 mph, 40,000 feet up. It’s too scary to do that, so you just kind of check out, read your in-flight magazine, listen to your tunes, and pretend you’re just anywhere.
When someone dies, you’re suddenly keenly aware that you’re in the tin can, hurtling through the air. Life is suddenly filled with scary possibilities everywhere you look.
It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to think about it. Who would? But here’s the thing: you have to let the pain in when someone you love dies. Emotions don’t disappear just because you tell them to go away. They just change form, and not in a good way.
When you boil water, it turns to vapor. When you try not to grieve, your emotions transform into other forces: you may feel physically ill in your stomach or head; you might become suddenly angry for no reason; or you might make stupid decisions that involve acting out or getting in trouble, or both.
Someone once said, “Have your emotions, or your emotions will have you.” The good news is that grief doesn’t last forever and, cliché as it sounds, time does help. You will not always feel this way, I promise. Good luck.
This post originally appeared on teenvogue.com