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Living with the Grief of a Loved One

Dedicated to Brenden Brinkworth, my best friend.

Every time I try to write about him, I seem to have no words. No descriptive paragraphs, no elaborate phrasing, just a wish that he was here again. I have tried so hard not to feel pain when I think of him, not to be hurt that he’s gone, but it seems impossible. Since he had to go a piece of me has been missing and I hope that he’s holding it in his heart, because that is where he will always be, in my heart, my soul, and my whole being. He made me feel things I had never felt before, he made me believe in myself like no one else could, he made me have hope when I felt there was no point. He accepted me through and through, even with all of my faults, he loved and protected me even though I gave him reasons not to. He has always amazed me with his self-less attitude, even with everything he was going through, he made everyone else a priority. He gave everyone around him hope, he was an inspiration, and I was so lucky to have him in my life, even if it was only for a short period of time. He made a mark on me like no else, he made me believe in humanity again, he made me feel like I could change the world. He was my best friend, the only one who could truly understand me, the one who knew me inside and out, the one that made me see the better in people. He was by far the greatest friend I've ever had and in everything I do, I will always think of him.

However, at some point, I got so swallowed up in the darkness of his death that I became the darkness. I stopped fighting and gave in to the demon that lay inside of me, I became nothing without him, just an empty vessel. Letting no one in or out, holding on to no one because I felt like he was the only one that truly mattered, that he was the only one who understood me. When he died my love for life went with him because what is life without your best friend? Honestly, I had never truly been taught how to deal with death before, my mother shielded me from any kind of pain, especially the pain of a death. I was not allowed to go to any funerals when I was a kid, therefore, his was my first. It was so terrifying, I showed up late, I didn’t want to believe that this was really happening. Then after the ceremony, everyone came to me with their apologies because, in a large portion of the pictures they showed, I was in them. We had the best memories but seeing those memories up there beside his coffin was just heart-wrenching. I knew we would never make any new memories and that tore me apart. 

People came up to me with so much sympathy in their eyes, shaking my hand saying “I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you”. I was thankful that people recognized how close we were but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve been through. Although, thinking about it, seeing him in the hospital was the worst. I always knew we wouldn’t have forever together because I was with him when he got diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, which is a very rare heart condition. We all should have had more time with him but something came up. The doctors had given him 5 years to live without a heart and lung transplant and he was at the 5-year mark when he got mono. He became very ill and had to be hospitalized and then everything started to shut down on him. His last thoughts were that he would be getting a heart and lung transplant but it was too late. He died on the table before he could get it, he went an hour and a half with no oxygen to the brain and then they announced that he was brain dead.

Now, there’s another aspect that added up to a lot of pain and confusion after the funeral. I don’t know if any of you are religious but if you are, you will understand this. I grew up in a very religious family where we went to church every Sunday and every holiday. So my parents have this idea in their head that if you are gay you will undoubtedly go to hell. I don’t believe this at all, seeing as my best friend that died was gay. My mom wouldn’t answer me when I asked her if she believed he would go to hell. All she said was “you know what I believe”. This made it that much harder knowing that my mom believed he went to hell. It broke my spirit because the one who raised me believes that the person who saved me was going to hell. Two conflicting ideas in my head at the same time, enough to drive anyone insane on a normal day. But this was no ordinary day, my best friend had died and I miss him every day that goes by.

Altogether, living with the death of a loved one is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. It’s important to have people around you that are going to help with the pain, a support buddy of sorts. When you’re really sad, you’ll be glad to have someone to talk to. A lot of people can relate to what you’re going through and it can be nice to have someone to lean on. Even if you feel like you have nowhere to go, find somebody, I wish I would have. It was a long dark journey for me but I have finally learned how to live with it, even though I didn’t want to. Take my advice, don’t be like me, lean on your family and the people around you, one day everything will be alright.

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