Surviving Death 

The moon was our thing. If we were ever apart, we would pick a specific time of night and both look at the moon knowing the other one was looking at it too. It was my saving grace in rehab when I couldn’t fall asleep with him on the phone with me or in my arms. And now in his death, it has continued to be my saving grace. He is my moon. But as we all know, the moon disappears sometimes. Last night as I was driving home, I saw the moon for the first time in what felt like weeks. Yesterday was a very emotional day for me and after working a choatic 14 hours, I bawled at the glimpse of the unreal looking crescent hanging between the trees. When I got home I spent a solid 20 minutes wandering around trying to find it again. I needed it. I needed him. It was the closest thing I had to him at that moment and when I couldn’t find it, I literally lost my shit. I laid on a park bench screaming and crying to him. For him. It was the first time I think I’ve ever talked (yelled) to him like that, like he was just sitting there next to me. That was always hard for me. After I calmed myself down, I was trying to figure out what it even means to lose someone like this. I mean, I know he’s dead. I know he’s not coming back but grasping the realism of death is not something that comes lightly nor quickly. Losing someone you love that intensely is unexplainable but it happens to so many people and there is no how to guide for coping with it so here is my best go at it. 

The stages of grief are real but don’t go to the internet reading up on it thinking it’ll prepare you or help you skip a step. My 4 stages of grief were not what the internet will tell you the 4 stages are. Each stage really depends on the situation of your loss. Dominic should not have died. He didn’t have to die. It was preventable so for me, that brought on so much anger. So fucking much anger. Stage 1. ODs suck because it’s like – fine, you’re happy now. Your war is over. But what about me? What about me, Dominic? What about the girl you swore to everyday that you’d give the world too, the girl you promised you’d married, the girl who was ready to give you a family the second you got your act together? Everything we fought through, all the odds we beat, all the dumb hoes we looked past, all of it was gone in an instant. All the times I saved his life were irrelevant because this time, I wasn’t there. This time he died and I couldn’t save him. Stage 2. 

Guilt is huge, especially when it comes to addiction related deaths. Whether you’re pinning the death on yourself or the family is pinning it on you for whatever reason (which I see way too often), at some point we are usually looking for someone else to blame – some outside force that pushed our loved one over the edge and whether or not that has anything to do with us personally, we still fault ourselves for not being there to catch them. I would sit here and tell you not to think like this because unless you forcefully shoved the needle into their arm or put the gun to their head, YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT FOR THEIR DEATH, but traumatic grief does twisted things to your head and the irrational thinking is nearly inevitable. And to be honest, I will probably always question the what ifs. What if I would have woken him up earlier that morning so he wouldn’t have missed his vivitrol shot, would he still have died that same night? No. He wouldn’t have. But at the same time, he was a grown ass adult. It wasn’t my job to make sure he was awake and on time for his own life saving doctor appointment. 15 minutes. He was 15 minutes late, they made him reschedule and he was dead 24 hours later. Do you understand how much that infuriates me? How much that fucks with me? 15 fucking minutes. 

My third stage of grief was resentment. I almost said it was relapse but it was a relapse fueled by resentment. I was so hurt that the only way I knew I could get back at him was to become everything he never wanted me to be. I was clean for 2 months prior to his death and stayed clean for 2 months after so 4 months off of everything and I relapsed hard. I doubled my usual dose in hopes that I would either die or sleep each day away; I did both. I got so reckless, so careless and so fucking dirty. And I didnt stop. Not for the homelessness, not for the rehabs, not for the OD. This stage, this relapse, it was all my attempt to even the score which obviously ended up giving me so much more emotional damage than had I not gone out, gotten high for months and acted a fool. If you take away anything from from this paragraph, I hope it’s that you really don’t need to put yourself through anymore pain than is necessary while going through the greiving process. Specially for addicts. It’s like as addicts we go hard or go home with everything we do and not in a good way. Like, life couldnt just suck because my boyfriend died. I had to go on an insane run, get kicked out of 2 sober livings, go to my 4th rehab, get hooked on meth all over again, OD on my sister’s floor and then oh wait, maybe that’s enough pain. Maybe thats enough to mask the fact that I was just running from his death. Maybe. 

The fourth stage that I will probably be in for the rest of my life isn’t acceptance, it’s awareness. I will probably never fully accept what it truly means for him to be dead. It’s just too much. But I am aware. I’m aware that he’s gone and not coming back, I’m aware that my life has and will continue to go on without him, I’m aware that he is with me in everything that I do. I’m aware that he has a special place in my heart that no one could ever even attempt to take. And really, that’s the best that I can do. 
Losing someone is a rollercoaster. It’s breakdowns that start out of nowhere and last all day. It’s smells or songs that you’ll never be able to react the same to ever again. It’s having your loved ones wanting to comfort you in any way shape or form but not having a clue how to go about it. It’s people forever tiptoing around you when it comes to that person, almost like they’re waiting for you to break at any second. It’s dreams of them that you wish you never had to wake up from. It’s forgetting the little things like the smell of their favorite cologne or the way they liked their ramen noodles cooked (which btw I will never forget cuz it’s how I make mine now, it was just an example). It’s replaying any voice recordings or videos you have of them for hours and hours on end because you just can’t get enough. It’s feeling overwhelmed and insane by the way your head is processing death. It’s never knowing if what you’re feeling is normal because what the fuck is normal about grief? 

My best advice to anyone who has just lost their loved one to mental illness or addiction, embrace it. Every feeling, every tear, every sign. There is no normal when it comes to coping. And no, it’s never going to get easier to live with. It doesn’t ever hurt less. You’ll just eventually hit a point where you can smile when you talk about them, even if its through the tears. You’ll hit a point where it doesn’t control your every waking second. You’ll hit a point where you stop feeling guilty for the life that you still have, and hopefully will be able to live through them and for them instead of inspite of them. You’ll feel so lost and so alone and so insane at times but just know that you’re not alone. Eventually the sun will shine brighter and it will be shining for them. Its okay to be angry. It’s okay to have days where you just fucking cry and cry and cry. Whatever emotions you have to go through, it’s okay. As long as your heart is beating youre doing good, kid. And fuck whoever says you have to let them go. I will never let go of him but I’ve also learned how to not drown in his absence. I am living through him, for him. Forever and always. 

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7 thoughts on “Surviving Death 

  1. My brother died of cancer 10 years ago. He was 27 and fought for 7 years. And from my experience I can tell you, I went through your stages. And you will accept it one day, because you have to. It will never be ok. I miss him every day, I can still hear his voice. He is in me, and always will be. Embrace life, because they would!

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  2. I no how u feel and it freaking sucks so bad I Will never get over it I think of him 24/7 not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He was my best friend and the best little brother anyone could ever ask for. This made me cry when I read this it going to be 4 years on July 30 and it still. Feels like a dream

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  3. Once again, you have hit home. I am still in the midst of all of these ‘stages’ sometimes all of them and then some in just one day. Your words are truth and any of us who know, know. Keep it up, keep struggling, laughing, loving, crying, educating and telling it like it is. Keep living. You are the voice of many. One second at a time. Thank you, you don’t know how much you help some of us. ❤

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  4. Keep on going through life one day or one event at a time. Losing someone is never easy, my friend recently passed away but he always said that the best way to live life is one minute after another and to never stop doing what you love with friends or family.

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  5. Listen for him, he’s still there. My brother in law passed away in sept and he’s very present in our lives. Our daughter (2) picks out pictures of him before his accident that she wouldn’t know was him and says “Chris! Chris!”. I take videos/pictures of her and there’s flashes of light or orbs in them. And certain songs play on the radio all the time., especially on days we need it most. ( most of the time it’s Ellie Goulding: Burn, the song our daughter Ellie is named after) We’re certain it’s him letting us know he’s ok. Just listen, Dominic is with you and you’ll start to feel him all around you.

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