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One day in late April my life changed forever. 

I received a phone call and the voice on the other end of the line nervously told me that my best friend had been found dead in her apartment. When I heard the news I crumpled. I screamed. I cried. I knocked over chairs and cleared tabletops, throwing papers to the floor. I hurt myself. My roommate found me lying on the kitchen floor in our apartment and took me to the hospital. As I sat in the sticky emergency room chair, my knees drawn up to my chest, my mind went back to two years ago when I sat in the very same ER because I had attempted suicide. But now I was on the other side.

We often think no one will miss us if we die or that no one will feel pain. I’ve definitely thought that before. But it’s just not true. It hurts on both sides of death, of suicide. It feels like your chest is collapsing like a star right before a supernova. But there’s no supernova, it’s just endless collapsing. You feel a general hopelessness about life, knowing that you couldn’t help her. You beg the universe to bring her back, sometimes even raising your fists to the sky. You spend days in bed with tears stinging your tired eyes. Your chest seizes up every time you think of something you were planning to do together. You know nothing will ever be the same. You’re struck with a desperate need to keep her alive, after everyone else has forgotten.

It’s lonely on the survivor side too. No one quite knows what to say or do, so you grieve alone. You are the cause of a great many uncomfortable silences because “my best friend is dead” is no conversation starter. It should’ve been me, you think over and over again. But it wasn’t. You’re alive and she’s not and that’s probably the worst feeling in the world.

The moment I heard the news I knew I would never consider suicide again. Being a survivor of an untimely death is a pain I would never wish on anyone else. Not now that I know how it feels.

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