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My Girlfriends Death Has Left Me So Lost

How do you move on after the loss of a loved one?
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Dear KitschMix,

Last year, my girlfriend left our home in the early hours of the morning and took her life. She had tried to do it twice the year prior, but this time she went through with.

It’s been six months and I’m so lost and broken. She left no note, but looking back now I could see the warning signs. We were together for 18 months, and I knew about her depression and suicidal thoughts before we started dating, but I thought things would get better.

I never expected to lose her. I thought I’d be strong enough to help her through all of this.

Now I feel so alone and lost. I am filled with guilt, and struggling to move forward. I feel so guilty thinking about moving on. My friends want me to join them out, but they have a lot of anger towards her for being so selfish. I’ve gone past the anger, and I’m just left with sorrow. I want to move forward, but I don’t know how to start that process.

Dear reader, let me start by expressing just how sorry I am for your loss. Depression and suicide are very difficult topics for many men and women – and, of course, they affect the people who love them, as well. Let me start by saying something you probably already know: It was not your fault, in any way.

We hear stories of hope sometimes – about how a simple smile or a “hello” prevented someone from taking their own life, and these are beautiful, wonderful stories. It makes me so happy to hear the appreciation and love that the would-be victim expresses for the person who saved them. I think it is definitely important that we make that extra effort to be kind, because you never know when it’s going to make a difference.

Unfortunately, these stories give us a bit of false hope, as the loved ones of the depressed person. We think that we can singlehandedly fix their problems, and that our love can just cure them. Yes, in some cases, that can happen – but that isn’t the rule. Generally, suicidal thoughts center around a feeling of hopelessness, and the person struggling just can’t keep struggling anymore. Saying the right things at the right time may help, but it’s not always enough.

It’s also important to know that you are allowed to be angry with her, but suicide itself is not a selfish thing. When a person is suicidal, they feel that leaving this earth is the best thing they can do for those around them. Often, they may feel as if suicide would “lessen the burden”. Of course, for those who are not struggling with suicidal thoughts, things look a bit different, but depression isn’t set out to make sense, it’s set out to destroy you.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the five stages of grief, but there are a variety of ways that people deal with the loss of a loved one. It’s never easy, and not everyone will go through all five stages, but knowing what you may still have to go through before you can truly move on is a good place to start.

I have never lost a loved one to suicide, but this week I lost my favorite aunt to cancer – which, truthfully, is a little closer to depression than most people realize. In both cases, you can often tell something’s off, but there comes a point when it’s too far progressed for anyone to be able to help. You can see them suffering, but the only help you can offer is a temporary distraction, and it’s painful for both of you.

I find journaling to be a good way to deal with my emotions. I frequently write letters in there, too – I’ve got a few I’ve written to my ex-girlfriend (both while we were together, and after we broke up). I’ve got one in there for my childhood imaginary friend. I’ve got one in there for my stillborn baby brother. In a private journal, you can work out your emotions however works for you – whether you’re writing, drawing, or even repeatedly writing swear words across the page. (Yep, I’ve got a few pages like that, too.)

Journaling isn’t right for everyone, but I do recommend it as a place to start. If it’s easier for you to talk to a friend about how you’re feeling, that can be a good option, too. Sometimes strangers on the internet are the best option, and if you want to give that a go, I’m always here. Whatever works for you will be unique, but it will involve expressing the things on your mind – whether good or bad – and allowing yourself to feel however you truly feel. While denial is an important part of the healing process, it’s not the same as moving on.

You might not be in the right place yet to go out with your friends who hold onto their anger for her. It’s completely healthy to avoid situations where you’ll feel the need to defend her – whether that means staying away from those friends for the time being, or politely telling them that you don’t want to hear anything bad about her. You don’t have to completely erase her from your mind (and you probably shouldn’t!) but it’s best to focus on the positives – the happy times you shared together, all the times she made you smile, and all the beautiful memories. Don’t focus on the things you’ve “lost” or the things you “didn’t do right” because this will only make you feel worse.

Reader, I hope that you can find peace soon, and take comfort in the fact that she is no longer struggling. If there is anything else you would like to talk about, please don’t hesitate to contact us again – I am always available to talk.

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