The last week and a half have been one of the hardest times I have ever had in my life. My best friend of 18 years passed away in his sleep. He was 30 years young. When I found out, I was devastated- I lost my best friend. He was someone that had been there for me since I moved to Westchester at 13, and someone that knew me inside and out. Maybe better than I knew myself at times.
When you are in your 20’s and 30’s, you don’t think about death striking a friend. Especially death of natural causes. When it does happen, emotions that you may not have even known existed come out and get the best of you. As shocked as I was, I was in denial. I knew he had passed, but the days leading up to the funeral I thought he would come back- like a joke and say “surprise, I’m here!” That never happened. The funeral came and so did the burial- where we had to face reality. This was the worst day of my life. Burying my best friend that I thought I had more time with was not something I had ever thought about. I went to his family’s house the next day where they were sitting shiva and got to hear stories about him I never knew about. Then stories I had heard over and over again, I felt as if I was there. I then heard stories that were so closely related to my own memories, it made me happy to know he wasn’t just a certain way with me. It was everyone.
It was a time to remember him.
With everything done, and him being gone, I think about it constantly.
I have always heard about the stages of grief, however I never had truly experienced them until now. I definitely had hit all five phases, however I felt them at different times and not in the order you always read about.
When I first found out, I of course was shocked. But I guess you can say I was was in denial as well. I didn’t want to believe my best friend was gone. Therefore, telling myself he was going to reappear even though I knew that was not the case. I did not want to see anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I just wanted to believe like it never happened.
Then came the bargaining. What if he had gone to the doctor? What if he didn’t work late the night before? What if this and what if that are questions we all face, but when it comes to reality we have to believe that his time was up and no matter what, he was going to be taken from us on this particular day.
The day of the funeral, and for days after, I was angry and depressed. I took my anger out on those who love me, including my husband. Not purposely, but I just didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to see anyone. And I didn’t want to deal with anything or anyone. I was depressed and it showed through the anger and the fights I was causing for no reason.
Acceptance was the hard one for me. I didn’t think I could accept that my best friend was really gone. A week after it happened, my husband and I had to leave for a pre-planned trip to Lake Placid for a lacrosse tournament my husband was playing in. Thursday, there were no games so we went with friends and explored the town. We went to the gorge, learned some amazing facts and also got to walk a nature trail. I have never seen my friend’s son so happy before. We went to a hockey game and hung out with good friends that night at the house we were sharing with them. Lacrosse games the next day were fun and so was the fishing we did inbetween the two games. Being around friends helped me with the final step. I was starting to accept my best friend was gone.
It will take me a long time, I think, to finally accept it fully, but being around others who love me and I love back definitely helps.
I am not writing this for people to feel sad for me. It’s actually the opposite. I want people to know that these feelings are natural and will happen. It does not make you a weak person for crying, it makes you a stronger person. It’s okay to talk about it. To write about it- which in my case was easier than talking. To be open with your feelings. And if you can’t, it’s okay to seek help from someone that can help you face the feelings you have.
Things happen in life for a reason. Whether we understand it or not at the time, we will be able to pick up the broken pieces and move on.
It is healthy to have feelings of depression, anger, shock, bargaining, wanting to isolate yourself, etc. It is, however, unhealthy to keep these feelings bottled up. Talk about it with a loved one, or a professional if you feel it is necessary. Get out and do something. A walk in nature, a trip away with friends, meditate- these things can help you relax your mind and accept whatever it is you have lost.
When you can let go of the negative emotions, you can start thinking and being positive again. And for that your body will thank you. And remember, just because you have accepted something doesn’t mean you have forgotten your history with that person, or whatever it is you’re grieving, it just means you can move on with your life with great memories of those you have loved. And that is what my friend would have liked me, and everyone else close to him he left behind, to do.
RIP Bryan Kraft- you were a great son, brother, and friend. We will love you always and forever. December 24, 2014 – July 30, 2014