Got 'Til It's Gone: A Survival Guide for a Suicide Loss Survivor by Kahwit Tela

There's a part of the Janet Jackson song "Got til it's gone" which goes "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got til it's gone?" If you're familiar with those words, then you're probably know it comes from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"..or at least the Counting Crows' cover featuring Vanessa Carlton. However, as great as the songs/covers are, I'm not going to be talking about them. Nor will i be talking about Joni Mitchell, Janet Jackson, Counting Crows or Vanessa Carlton. I'm going to be writing about my experience of being a suicide loss survivor and give a few tips on how to live.


So, before i begin, let me clarify two things: 1. How i became a suicide loss survivor and 2. The difference between a suicide survivor and a suicide loss survivor.


It was February 25, 2014, the 2nd semester of my freshman year in High School. I was in gym class when the entire freshman class was called into the auditorium. Being called into the auditorium usually meant either a lecture about academics or that something serious had happened. A few days prior was the passing of a swim coach, so i assumed that was what my principal was going to address. While it was about a death, it wasn't one that i expected..Heck, it wasn't something anyone expected. A principal told us that a classmate of ours had just passed away. The kid that had passed away was my friend and was in a lot of my classes, including that p.e. class that i had that morning. We even had lockers next to each other, as our last names had the first letter. I bursted into tears as i understood why he wasn't in class that morning. While we delivered the tragic news, my classmates never were outright told as to how the late classmate passed and now that, i look back at it, it was probably for the best. My friend took his own life after being bullied mercilessly by some of our classmates. In all seriousness, when i heard about what really happened, the news "killed" me in an emotional sense. Thus started my life as a suicide loss survivor.

A suicide loss survivor is basically someone who was close to the person who committed suicide, be it a family member or a friend. This is different from a suicide survivor, who is someone who has previously attempted to commit suicide. However, the terms can sometimes be use interchangeably.

It has been about five years since that happened and it wasn't til recently that i went to find outlets to help me through this loss. God forbid this ever happens to you or anyone but in the unfortunate case this happens to you or someone else, here's some tips help you with living after a suicide


1. Volunteer

Everyone is affected by something tragic. I mean, if you weren't, then you would be a robot. A good way to make a difference in stopping suicides from happening is by volunteering. I started to volunteer because I wanted to try and save the lives that i could, since i couldn't save my friend. As big of a goal that is, chances are that most people who volunteer and/or work at a suicide prevention facility have been affected by a suicide somehow. So, you're not alone in wanting to make a difference.


2. Join a support group

It's always helpful to talk to others whenever you're low. However, some people might not be helpful when talking to them about losing someone to suicide. It's not necessarily because they're ignorant, it can also be that they don't know how to help because they've never experienced a suicide before. That's why i recommend to going to a support group. It can be overwhelming at first, as with a lot of things. I, for one, was afraid of going because i didn't want to be judged. Thankfully, i was wrong. I doubt most people in the support group would judge you as they want the same thing as you do in this situation: someone to listen to them and understand their pain.


3. Go out of your comfort zone

Exercise. Go to that party. Talk to that person you fancy. Take Oboe lessons! Do what it takes to make you feel like you're living again (as long as it's not illegal or life-threatening to others)


4. Don't be hard on yourself

You're nervous about going to that party? Beating yourself up for not talking to your crush? Feeling like you're a complete moron for not taking the Oboe? It's alright. Don't torture yourself over every little thing. Take your time and don't feel pressured into doing something you're not ready to do yet. All flowers bloom on the own time.


5. Feel how you feel

You may feel angry at yourself, others and/or your late loved one for taking their own life. You may feel like you just can't possibly forgive "x,y or z" be it yourself or others. Feel what you feel and know it takes time to accept some things. As much as you may have loved the deceased, you had to realize that it was their choice to end their own life with their own hands. This, sadly, is the truth, whether you want it or not.


6. Realize

Relaize that there's gonna be people who'll say that people who commit suicide, be it talking about your late loved one or people who died from suicide in general, "will go to hell" and that they're "selfish". Realize that special occasions such as Holidays or Birthdays are gonna be hard to go through. Realize this: people don't commit suicide because they only care about themselves. Most people who consider or considered suicide stay alive because they don't want to be a burden to others. Their lives are already miserable; why in the heck would they want to inflict misery unto others?! Instead of going off people who say those rather poor-taste remarks, think to yourself on how you remember that person. Chances are you're fond of them and they're a good human being. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not is up to you but if you know deep down on your heart that they were a good person, the late loved one will rest easy on your accord. Also, remember a day is just 24 hours. This goes for weekdays, weekends, birthdays, holidays, etc. Nothing lasts forever and that is especially true with a day. The pain won't last forever.


So, dear reader, you probably thinking " What the heck does a reference from a Janet Jackson song, which in itself is a reference from a Joni Mitchell song have to do with Suicide?!" And you know what, dear reader, here's why: i don't know if you're 12, 22, 55, 76 or whatever but I know that at least once in your life, you heard the saying "You don't know what you got til it's gone". It's only when a disruption ,such as death, in your uniform way of life that you truly comprehend what that means. In less fancy terms: the only way to know it is to actually go through it and for me, it was the suicide of my friend...