The worst thing anyone can ask you at a funeral is: “Are you okay?”
“No, no I’m not. And for a long time, I certainly won’t be.”
They keep saying: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
And in my mind I keep asking: “Are you really sorry? Or are you just saying it to try to make me feel better?”
Many people don’t know how to deal with grief, they don’t understand what to say or how to act around a person who has just lost someone. I was one of those people until I lost my best friend.
I was 16 years old when I experienced grief for the first time.
It was 9am on a Sunday morning and I was just having my breakfast, when my neighbor called to ask me if I wanted to accompany her to a funeral, she usually never asks me to accompany her anywhere, so I was taken aback. I asked her who has passed away and she stayed silent for a few moments, she knew many of my friends and my best friend, Rae, was one of her family members. She told me in a broken voice: “Rae”.
My world froze, I started getting a little dizzy, and tears filled my eyes. I didn’t have to confirm if we were talking about the same person, I knew it was my best friend. I agreed to go with her. I went to change my clothes and get ready. I couldn’t believe that it was Rae, I was hoping to get to the funeral and maybe by some miracle, she would still be alive, that maybe it was another Rae. But in the back of my mind I knew none of that was going to happen.
My parents were never the kind who would console you, or tell you “it’s all going to be okay”. In fact, my dad never had a good relationship with us, so when I informed him about Rae, all he said was: “yeah, well these things happen”.
Mom was attending to visitors, so she said as soon as they leave, she will come to the funeral.
I got ready, I tried to get myself together and stop crying, but I just could not. The tears kept flowing, I did not understand anything, how do I stop crying? Why am I crying so much? Is it even normal?
We got to Rae’s house, the street was lined up with cars. As I got off the car, one of my other friends, Aaral, came up to me and just hugged me, she didn’t say anything, she just hugged me, I don’t know how long we stood there for, people were crying, talking about how she passed on. That’s when I realized, I don’t even know the cause of her death. How did she pass away?
I asked Aaral about it, and since that day, I had developed a hatred for people who drink and drive and for drunk people.
Rae and her family were coming home from a wedding. They were driving on a one-way lane and a drunk driver and his group of friends came onto their lane and crashed into them, head on. Her sister broke her hand, her parents received minor injuries, her brother broke his leg and unfortunately Rae hit her head and flew out of the car, unfortunately she did not make it long enough for the paramedics to arrive. The doctors said that even if she had to survive, she would have just been in a vegetative state (a chronic state of brain dysfunction in which a person shows no signs of awareness).
As we walked into the house, all I could hear were people crying, many of our school friends came up to me, consoled me, telling me that they are sorry, that it is all going to be okay. I did not know what to say to them, so I just nodded. Rae’s siblings were still in the hospital, but her parents were there, as soon as I walked up to her mother, she hugged me tightly, and we both just let all our emotions out. She was gone, my best friend was gone and she was never coming back.
They soon brought her body to allow us to see her, I was completely shattered, I felt numb, I couldn’t hear anyone, I looked at her lifeless body, she was gone, forever. I stood there reminiscing of all the times we would laugh and joke, of the times we tried to study together but ended up talking about something else, my body froze as I stood there looking at her. Why her? God why her?
They started taking the body, and it became harder to control myself. I wanted to run away, I felt a pain in my chest, like someone stabbing me continuously, my head was pounding. and then…she was gone.
Over the next few months, I kept on visiting the family. But I felt alone, I felt like I had lost a part of me. I kept on praying to God to help me get through this, sometimes it takes a person a few weeks to get over their grief, sometimes it takes them months and sometimes it takes them years.
I would pray everyday, and it started getting easier, friends would call or send me messages to ask if I was okay. But after a few months that stopped. But I knew that they were all there for me if I needed anything.
It has been over 8 years now, but every time I think of that day, I start crying, as I am writing this, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. No one has ever been able to replace Rae, and I doubt anyone ever will.
If you don’t know how to deal with grief, just pray. If you don’t know how to console a person who is going through a tough time, just hug them, you don’t even have to say anything to them. Just holding them tight and allow them cry and express their emotions. Cherish your moments with your loved ones, you never know what will happen tomorrow, love them and care for them. Live each day as if it were your last…..