My only friend is gone
September 13, 2014 2:39 PM   Subscribe

My only friend killed himself and I don't know what to do now.

We dated for four years and recently had become good friends. I found out today he killed himself on Thursday or Friday after I'd been trying to reach him. He shot himself. I don't know what to do. Besides my family, he was the only friend I had. He understood me, when no one else did. He was my first real boyfriend, my first love, my only love, my closest friend, and I cannot believe he is gone, forever. I knew he was depressed (we live about an hour away) and I just saw him 2 weeks ago. We'd been encouraging each other and he said this would probably be a better week. He didn't have any friends either.

I don't know what to do. I'm living 3 hours away from my family with no friends here and I can't drive and I don't know how to process this. We were supposed to talk today. I can still remember his hug.

As depressed as I was, he always made me feel like I mattered. Now he's gone, forever, and nothing is ever going to bring him back. I had a friend die of cancer two years ago, but this is so much worse.

Please help me, I don't know what my question is but I don't know what to do.
posted by Aranquis to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It probably would be a good thing for you to return home to your family for a week or so. Maybe you could call your parents and they could come get you.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2014 [21 favorites]

This recent MetaFilter thread has a number of good resources, as well as some fellow MeFites who have suffered like you are suffering now.

Also, There Is Help is an extensive list of MeFite-curated resources around the world, though mostly focused on those who are contemplating suicide.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

Call you family and ask them to come get you. Don't wait, do it today. If they cannot come get you, take a bus home.

posted by arnicae at 3:00 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

You're in grad school? Your school likely has counselors to help, even on the weekends. Talk to your professors, they may be understanding as well. Of course, try to get home, if your family is supportive, first. All the best to you.
posted by kellyblah at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

If you are in the US I highly recommend calling Lifeline. One of their missions is to talk to people who are in crisis because a friend killed themselves. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
posted by rednikki at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2014 [13 favorites]

I am so, so sorry this happened.

Would you be comfortable going to a support group? Your health insurance company probably has resources to help you find one, or (since I see from your previous questions you're in grad school) your school's health services department. (Here's an online tool that might also give you a line on one in your area.)
posted by asterix at 3:02 PM on September 13, 2014

Response by poster: I really can't go home because of grad school, though my family is going to come up to take me to the funeral.
posted by Aranquis at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2014

I'm living 3 hours away from my family with no friends here and I can't drive and I don't know how to process this.

Call your family right now, tell them what happened, and ask them to drive up and stay with you, at least overnight. Tell them that you need them.

If they can't come to you, is there a train or bus you could take to get to them? I think from a previous question that you're a grad student -- usually schools have shuttles to the local train or bus station, and then you can probably buy a ticket once you're at the station. This is an emergency. Even if the trip would be expensive than you'd like, you should find a way to be with your loved ones.

Even if you're not someone who usually turns to others for help and even if asking for it now feels unnatural or unnecessary to you, believe me that being around other people right now, especially loved ones, will actually be a much bigger help than you realize. They don't need to do anything in particular, but you can't be alone today.

They'll also be able to make sure that you're still eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself -- that might be difficult in the next few days, if you're on your own.

You probably won't be able to process this right away. It might take a very long time, actually. It might never fully happen. That's just your mind's way of protecting you. Let yourself feel whatever you feel, even if what you feel is sometimes "nothing" or just shock.

Don't require yourself to do anything important or complicated, because you're almost certainly in shock right now and soon you'll likely be grieving (which isn't always all that different from shock). If you can't stand the amount of pain you're feeling, do something small to distract yourself, like turn on the TV or listen to music or put a family member on speakerphone even if you're not really able to carry on a conversation. If you can concentrate enough to study or read, you can do that -- just know that you're probably not going to be able to retain much, so it's more about giving yourself a break from the horrible thing that just happened in your life than about actually doing any work.

I'm so sorry, for your friend and for you. This is a tragedy.
posted by rue72 at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm so incredibly sorry. Please do take advantage of the resources at your university, but also don't be afraid to tell your advisor (whatever form that takes in your gradaute program) that you've just suffered a breathtaking loss. If they're even a halfway-decent advisor they should offer you some support, or at least give you the space to take care of yourself.

I'm someone who has a hard time reaching out for support when I need it, and if you're at all the same way, fight that urge. Now is the time to tell your family and your coworkers that you need their support, and I think you'll be surprised at how much people rise to the challenge.
posted by alycoop at 3:15 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are some suicide prevention groups that also have support groups for the people who lost a loved one through suicide. Check with your university whether they know of such a group.

I am so, so sorry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:20 PM on September 13, 2014

One thing worth mentioning, since people often forget it, is to fall back on the traditional rituals surrounding death. These include: make contact with your fellow mourners. You can think of this as something you can still do on your friend's behalf.

Did your friend have other contacts? Someone from whom you heard the news? Whoever is arranging the funeral? Family (even estranged)? Maybe not real friends, but others distressed by his death? Do you have a way to contact them?

If these are smart and decent folks, they'll realize it'd do them some good to hear what a difference he made in your life, and to offer you what comfort they can.

If they behave badly (and grief makes people unpredictable), withdraw or whatever you need to do to look after yourself. Your friend valued you highly, and so you should value yourself highly, as he'd want you to do.

So unspeakably sorry for your loss.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:23 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Where are you? There might be some local MeFites reading this thread who can help on a more personal level. I would if you lived near me.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:30 PM on September 13, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'm so sorry to hear that.

I lost a close friend to suicide in grad school as well and my professors were really understanding about letting me turn things in a little late/working remotely/not being physically present in class for a few days. If you are comfortable sharing what's going on with them, you may be able to get some time off to spend with your family.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:30 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I live in Toledo, OH
posted by Aranquis at 3:31 PM on September 13, 2014

I'm so sorry this happened.

Here are some links related to survivors of suicide. I recommend attending a general death and grief support group if there isn't a suicide specific one near you.

I've had someone close to me commit suicide and found it especially painful to cope with (compared to other types of deaths of people close to me). Please, please, start seeing a therapist to deal with the load of feelings and questions that have and will come up. This isn't something will get better without dealing with it.
posted by spork at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2014

I am so, so sorry you have lost your friend.

I think there is a lot of excellent advice above but I particularly agree with those encouraging you to tell your graduate advisor and professors what has happened. They are more likely to be able to help you if you let them in on the situation early. You're experiencing a serious loss and your grief is very understandable. They might even be able to arrange for you to take time off from classes so you can be with your family.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:38 PM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have done graduate school if not in the same field, and I think you will find that if you contact people and tell them the situation, that they will be more helpful than you think about finding ways to make up for classes and so on so that you can go home for a week or two, if your family is able to have you and you think that would help. A lot of students never ask for help during bad times because they think that it won't be available, and it really is.
posted by Sequence at 3:44 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am so, so sorry for your loss.

I really can't go home because of grad school...

As a professor (and therefore graduate school veteran):

You can miss class. You can make up readings and assignments. Someone can cover your teaching. Deadlines can be moved. Somebody else can babysit your experiment if you have something cooking in the lab.

It is completely reasonable and expected that you would need some time off right now.

Grad school has a way of making you feel like if you remove your nose from the grindstone for a nanosecond that everything will come crashing down, but it's really an illusion.

Please, talk to your professors. You can call them at home for something like this.
posted by BrashTech at 3:45 PM on September 13, 2014 [45 favorites]

In addition to reaching out to your school's community, you might consider local churches. It doesn't matter what denomination, nor whether you believe in God. Churches are typically already set up for two circumstances applicable to your situation: dealing with grief, and welcoming new people with no local connections. Irrespective of religion, they are social institutions you might find helpful in this instance. Feel free to walk in and be selfish; you don't need to share their faith in order to share their kindness. It's not unethical.

I am very sorry for your loss. Good luck in reaching out to some of the resources discussed.
posted by cribcage at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's the University of Toledo's suicide prevention links, which could be a good first step for finding local support.

When you find yourself looking for more people to hang out with, you could suggest a MetaFilter meetup. Here's a list of previous MetaFilter meetups in Ohio, as well as Indiana and Michigan for good measure. They don't happen too often in that general region, but it looks like a few people usually attend. MetaFilter meetups are usually pretty relaxed gatherings.

My sincere condolences and heartfelt wishes.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:51 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Group
Meets the third Monday of the month from 7-8:30 pm
All Saints Lutheran Church
5445 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo Ohio 43614
No Cost
posted by spork at 3:53 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

All good advice above. Just chimed in to say, you do matter.
posted by kate4914 at 4:26 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I found out he talked about me in his suicide note. He wanted me to know he was sorry. For some reason, it helps to know in his last moments, he thought of me. I'm going to go to the counseling center on Monday when they open and I already emailed my professors. I really need to talk to someone, so if anyone would be willing to mefimail me, I would really appreciate it.
posted by Aranquis at 4:39 PM on September 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

I MeMailed you my number, or you can MeMail me yours and I'll call you.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:43 PM on September 13, 2014 [9 favorites]

This is not your fault.

posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:20 PM on September 13, 2014

Very sorry to hear that. He took the path he did and that is so very tragic. However do not try to analyze it right now, that will drive you nuts and will add to the complete mayhem that is going on emotionally. Just know that you will go through the 5 stages of grief and let yourself do that. Be patient and kind with yourself you need to pamper yourself which means be kind, patient and forgiving to yourself right now.
I will also recommend this book which will give you another perspective on life.
posted by jellyjam at 5:43 PM on September 13, 2014

Check your memail.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:06 PM on September 13, 2014

Hi, Aranquis. I'm glad you are reaching out and taking steps to let others support you in this awful time. I lost my son to suicide 2.5 years ago, and being able to talk to other people about it was and continues to be really important to my ability to cope. Early on I joined an online, mailing list type support group for survivors of suicide--I participate in a parent's group called Parents of Suicide (PoS) and we have a sister group called Friends and Family of Suicide (FFoS). You can learn a little more about these groups at the web site and submit a request to join. It was really helpful to me, especially early on, to be able to share and listen to people who were experiencing the same thing.
posted by drlith at 7:10 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know you've gotten MeMail offers. I'll join them, and you'll get more. Engage them. They will help and they're immediate. But I would implore you not to use them in place of real-world interaction. No offense or ruffled feathers intended; I realize a lot of people on this website live significant portions on their lives online. But that isn't a substitute. In grief and need, it isn't healthy. Take the good advice given in this thread. Reach out, and find people and help in your real life.
posted by cribcage at 7:34 PM on September 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

If you can't get family on the phone right now, or aren't comfortable, the lifeline phone number linked above is a tremendous resource. I have called it, and the people on the other end are so kind. Even talking to someone on the phone can feel like more of a real connection than through the computer.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by linettasky at 7:51 PM on September 13, 2014

You love to bike, you know that exercise helps make emotions tolerable, and as it happens tomorrow will be lovely biking weather in Toledo.

As a destination, you might consider Cribcage's suggestion of some religious community/ceremony, Sunday morning being a common time slot.

If it were me, I would head for the Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo, 6537 Angola Road, Holland OH. They welcome newcomers. Tomorrow is the first day of Ango, so there will be a special opening ceremony and a walk (probably silent and single-file) in the Oak Openings park. The ceremony starts at 10:30 am. They suggest that if you get there a few minutes early if you can (if it were me, I would get there like a half hour early), but any time will be fine. If you don't have time to ask questions, just do whatever everyone else is doing. (No beliefs required - just practice.)

You also have local Unitarians, at 3205 Glendale Avenue in South Toledo, with services at 11, followed by a coffee hour. Belief is also a non-issue there, and they also welcome newcomers, with special efforts made tomorrow and on the 28th. Recent past services include discussions of John Lennon and people's pets. I imagine they would give you something to chat about at coffee hour, if you're not up to sharing anything more personal.

The Unitarians might have the advantage of being a lot more chatty, if that seems good. The Zen Buddhists will have a certain amount of silent meditation, which is generally good in dealing with turbulent emotions, but dangerous if you're struggling not to cry. (On the other hand, crying during meditation is understood as something that happens, so you needn't worry about other people's reactions, at least not if they're properly experienced.) The Unitarians have a congregation of about 140; the Zen group is probably a lot smaller.

If you want a neutral connection: you mention that cooking and baking are among your social talents. I imagine someone may have baked for the Unitarian's coffee hour; you could seek them out and chat about baking. In traditional Zen monasteries, the most revered and experienced person is the cook; more recently, some influential cooks, such as Deborah Madison, got their start in Zen centers. If you want something to chat about with Zen people, you could say you've heard cooking is important in Zen, and ask about that.

It's fine to just show up, take whatever value you can from the event or the company, and vanish again. It's also fine to share your predicament and how you're feeling. Religious groups are there, in part, to absorb some of the brunt of such horrible events, and to offer all possible support to anyone dealing with catastrophe.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2014 [14 favorites]

I discovered the end of last year someone I knew took their life. I have lost three people to suicide. There is now a guy I know who wishes to take his life due to dealing with the loss of our mutual friend. I'm surrounded by it and all I've learned is this: You will feel pain for a long time, it will not be easy to get over the pain. You will have to develop tools to cope with it. Therapy, counseling, books, any way you feel comfortable to deal with the loss. Possibly seek out groups that support the loss of loved ones through suicide. Eventually try to join social groups, anything where you knit, or socialize with a group of people. There are meet-ups as well and you can find those online locally. Eventually you will meet someone whom you click with.

Right now though, take time for you and try to navigate through the pain one day at a time and realize there are many people on this planet. Your friend cannot be replaced but in time you will make, or rather, have room for new friends.

My best rule, keep offline when you begin to get out more. I have found that while interaction is great on here and can help, having a strong support system offline, in the real world, is much much better. The net can exasperate the loneliness.
posted by Fayrose at 9:38 PM on September 13, 2014

My deepest sympathies to you at this very difficult time. I wish I had more to offer. I, obviously, don't even know you, but you will be in my thoughts. Best wishes to you to get through this devastating period.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:48 PM on September 13, 2014

I'm so very sorry for your loss. I lost a friend the same way a couple of years ago -- we weren't as close as you and your friend, but it was still... IS still hard sometimes. I wasn't in grad school but undergrad still, but... the entire school knew about it, and the "black flag" was on the pole for several days.

I wound up taking the entire week off, as I simply couldn't handle the work and being in a room with all of these cheery, happy weavers while struggling to make sense of things. My teacher and classmates were so very understanding. I think that if you tell a prof or your adviser the simple basic facts ["my closest friend killed himself, I need some time to grieve"] they will be so understanding and will move what needs to be moved to support you in this time.

One thing I found particularly useful was that... I didn't have to tell everyone myself. Everyone knew about the suicide [as he was found in the dorms, and it went across the school notification emails] but I didn't have to tell more than two or three people that he was my friend. Would it perhaps be easier if you told a prof or classmate and asked them to let any group members or teaching partners know? That way you don't have to continually talk about it right after it happened...

Mostly, though... please, please... take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to be safe and to grieve the loss of your friend. Death is hard. Suicide can be harder. Remember your friend in the best of times. Be good to yourself.
posted by gloraelin at 2:46 AM on September 14, 2014

Your post made me cry. Life is so fucking hard sometimes. To actually go through with this with the conviction that it takes to fully make it work your poor friend deeply, deeply craved an escape. Maybe oneday that thought will bring an element of comfort.

When you are ready (maybe not now in the intensity) write your friend a letter, maybe make a special place for it in your place, or think about a little ritual just for you and him to say goodbye.

Sending you a cyber hug across the world. Pain doesn't stay as raw as it is right now.
posted by tanktop at 9:56 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can I be your friend? Message me if you'd like. I am an excellent texter, which is a low key way to connect.

I'm so very, very sorry.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 9:56 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am so, so sorry. For you and for your friend. He must have been in so much pain to even consider taking his own life. (I was close once.)

This hasn't been adressed yet, I think, so I'll say it. Do not blame yourself. There was nothing you could have done. You were not his doctor, therapist or the depression in his head.
I repeat: This is not your fault. Take it from someone who wanted to die once even while acquaintances told me "but your life is so great". I was - objectively - doing well. People cared for me. But depression is murderous.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2014

Lots of great tips here but I wanted to say that I am very sorry for your loss.
posted by getawaysticks at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2014

I'm so sorry for your loss.

There is great advice/referrals/links to resources above. In addition, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( has a lot of information and resources for survivors of suicide loss. That website helped me when my brother completed suicide. A grief support group helped me the most.

I like how you've said you need to talk to someone and asked people to Memail you. I hope you will continue to be forthright about your needs and engage the people around you who care about you (not just family, but also advisors, professors, fellow students, etc.). Many will offer their support but not know HOW to help. Please don't be hesitant to tell them.

posted by Boogiechild at 7:49 PM on September 14, 2014

FYI for those worrying about Aranquis -- I chatted with her and she seems to be doing a little better. She's spending the next few days with her friend's family.

But please do keep suggestions for what she should do in the medium-term and long-term coming -- she'll be dealing with this long after the funeral is over. Thanks.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:00 PM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]

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