Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer
Kelsey Hoeper is an Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer. Kelsey shares her moving account on the loss of her friend who died by suicide. She provides powerful and sensitive insight on the important roles that education and awareness play in the prevention of suicide.
“I love and miss you so much. It pains me to know I can’t drive over or call you on the phone. Multiple times a day I stop what I’m doing, desperately wishing you were with me. I love you. I’ll always need you. Keep me close, my dear. I keep you close.”
A friend of mine, I’ll refer to him as “David,” was last seen with some of his friends and co-workers at his favorite local bar. He had a gorgeous smile. The kind of smile that radiates, entering into his eyes. Forged by fire, softened by his gentle manner. It was easy to see why so many people loved him.
The night of his death, David’s mother called friends and family members letting them know the kind of news humans can hardly bear to hear. I’ve heard it’s a wave of emptiness, a hollow feeling that replaces large quantities of the “you” that was there only seconds beforehand. I’ve heard others feel it in their chests. Others feel it behind their eyes—shifting lenses. (I pray you never have to feel this way.)
That night, one of my friends called me. She was crying and saying his name over and over. She disclosed she never detected the level of his depression, the sheer height of his pain. I helped her disperse her self-guilt. I told her that guilt isn’t meant to pool inside you. Loving someone so fiercely, it feels holy. I told my friend, because you loved him, there is no reason for guilt.
The same night of David’s death, his Facebook page became a shrine. Friends and family members let their pain and love be known. Many of David’s closest friends did not know the depth of his pain and anxiety. From the outside, you would have met a vibrant young man with talent and spark. Upon closer look, you might have seen a side of him that was stoic, contemplative and internally bound. He could be outgoing and loud, and also settle down into himself. A young man who had a talent with words. An artist in his own right. There was so much left for him to give. So many places he had yet to tap into it and swim around.
It’s been less than a year since David’s death. We don’t dare to use the words “moving on.” It’s still too fresh for many people. I will never be one to negate the feelings of others or put mine in comparison to those of a mother, a father, a son, a grandmother. I do not have the eyes of a mother. I do not harbor the special moments living inside David’s parents and best friends. I have no right to access them. Those belong to certain people—the luckiest of people.
We are unable to stay in one place—there is too much around us, too many people that need us and love us. For that reason, “moving on” is something we say to others and something we often hope for ourselves. David’s Facebook page is an example of people moving on while taking David with them. They acknowledge his presence without him being there. They tell David about their job promotion, a new baby, a new house. How amazing. There is a before and there is an after, and we live and exist in both.
This story is an important one because detection isn’t always easy or on the surface. It can go unnoticed, and not because you are a bad parent or a bad friend. It goes unnoticed because some of those who internally struggle are the valedictorians. The star athletes. The vibrant, outgoing class clowns. Mental illness does not know age, income, the level of education, where you live. It can live inside someone like David. Someone everyone knew and loved. This is why Elyssa’s Mission is so crucial. The education and awareness offered by the Mission might be the very thing needed to bring someone back from their own depths. To bring them to the surface once again.