I first met Matt and Dylan at a summer soccer camp when I was in 3rd grade many years ago. My family had just moved to this new town, and I knew nobody. My shy demeanor and sheepish personality certainly weren’t helping me in the friends’ category either. During that first summer, I attended a soccer camp where I met Dylan and Matt. We instantly became best friends. There was no defining moment, it just happened. We aptly named ourselves, The Three Musketeers, and we became inseparable much to the dismay of our families. By some weird coincidence, we all happened to live on the same street which certainly helped us stay in contact, considering cell phones were not anywhere near as prevalent as they are today with kids. It would be safe to say that I spent more time at Matt and Dylan’s house than my own house some weeks.
Everything was not ‘happily ever after’ though. As time went on, our friendships all started to drift apart. Matt and I were going to different colleges, and Dylan was a year younger, and still in high school. Our interest were also not aligned. It was pretty clear that all of our lives were heading in different directions, and we may not be, what you would classically define as ‘best friend’ status friendships. I am not trying to say that this is a bad thing. Best friends drift apart, lovers fall out of grace, and people move on. Life is ever changing.
While Dylan and I went to the same high school together, he was also a year younger, so our circle of friends were different. Matt went to a private High School, so he also had a different circle of friends. When Matt and I went to college, we still stayed in contact with Dylan but we both were aware that Dylan was starting to get mixed up with a not so good crowd. As time went on, both Matt and I lost almost all contact with Dylan. We had heard from mutual friends that he was abusing opiates. Not too long after I had heard this bad news, I got the text. Dylan overdosed.
The news hit our small community right in the soft spot. Even though towards the end of his life, he was making some unsavory decisions, Dylan had friends and family all throughout the community that loved him deeply. He was as charismatic as he was quick witted. His sudden death caught almost everybody off guard. I consider myself a very open and upfront person, but I was having a very difficult time opening up about how I felt. I think everybody was feeling stifled due to the nature of his death. The whole gambit of guilt, shame, and blame all emerged to take center stage in the wake of the tragedy.
Everybody Felt Guilty
The idea that the death was preventable will always haunt me and his surrounding family and close friends. The sneaky idea that we could have done more to prevent his death was (and still is) a reoccurring theme when I look back at life. Guilt also arose, but from a different source, for Dylan’s mother Jenny. She felt guilty that she might have made Dylan’s addiction worse through some of her words and actions during her many confrontations with Dylan.
Everybody Pointed Fingers
People began pointing fingers at others they think may have enabled, or contributed to the addiction. It was unfortunate because tragedy can be used as a building block to bring family and friends together. Whether the blame was warranted is another story, ultimately the blaming only brought about division and more unnecessary arguments.
What stands out the most to me was how vastly different my reaction to this tragedy was, compared to previous deaths in the family. I was expecting the denial, I was expecting the sadness, I was not expecting the guilt or shame. Being burdened with emotions that seem out of place is a very uneasy feeling. Processing the grief was a long journey, and still ongoing for many. Watching the landscape of all the family and friends of Dylan, react to his untimely death perfectly represents the nuances of grief.
You can never anticipate how others will react to a tragedy, much less yourself. I found myself encumbered by guilt, which is not what I was expecting. Could I have done more to help Dylan? Was I the one who drifted away from him? These questions don’t always have easy answers. Matt’s reaction to the death was initially more subtle than mine, but the grief and guilt laid heavy on his conscious for far longer than me and most others.
Coming to terms with everything for Matt and I was an uphill battle. The lives of everybody are intertwined in ways you cannot even imagine. Scrutinizing ourselves and our actions towards Dylan was the only thing that made logical sense to us both. It was how we felt most comfortable reconciling the situation.
It is clear that everyone has a different coping mechanism for dealing with grief and tragedy. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you do not compare yourself to others in the aftermath of a tragedy. The timeline for recovering from grief will be different for every single person. Overcoming grief should always start with open communication, no matter how difficult the situation is. Without open dialogue, there leaves little wiggle room for understanding and compassion. Two weeks after Dylan had passed away, I was with Dylan’s family, and Matt and his family. The conversation started to intensify as it drifted to finger pointing. I will never forget Matts mother saying, “This is good, let’s talk through this.” Everybody left that conversation feeling a little less cynical, and a little more empathetic. I believe that conversation was the turning point for a few people (myself included) in turning the tragic situation into a building block for personal growth. If I can impart any bit of knowledge I gained from the experience, it is that grief is a fickle mistress that has many different ways of manifesting in people. Rooting out grief will require contemplation and introspection, but it should also be something discussed with others. If you feel like surrounding family and friends might not provide the support you need, never underestimate the impact of a therapist or grief counselor. Nobody is an island, you are never alone in your struggles.
About the Author----------------------
I graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in Exercise Science. I love living an active lifestyle and am always encouraging my friends and family to pursue a healthier lifestyle. In my free time I enjoy snowboarding, soccer, tennis, golf, disc golf, and strength training. Over the years, I have really begun to appreciate life more. This appreciation for the many flavors of life has led me to be very aware of how I spend my time, and with whom. I am eternally grateful for all the amazing people in my life. I got pretty lucky with that one.
A couple of years ago, my good friends’ father passed away. After some time had passed, he confided in to me that the cost of the funeral was putting a real strain on his family’s finances. He told me the cremation urn he bought at the funeral home was over $700. This ridiculous cost really got me thinking. Why should cremation urns cost so much. With some elbow grease and many long phone calls, I created Safe Passage Urns, where we retail unique, and affordable cremation urns, as well as provide the most comprehensive and helpful information on funeral planning and saving money on funeral expenses. Our goal is to make your life as easy as possible during the difficult time you are going through, following the loss of a loved one.
I would never have imagined that I would end up working for a company that deals with bereaved people all day, much like a funeral director. While I have no formal training in psychology or grief counseling, I can still relate to the pain that accompanies the death of a loved one. I cherish the opportunity I have to help people in whatever little way I can during a difficult period in their life.
URL of blog: https://safepassageurns.com/blogs/blog