In February of 2006 my best friend committed suicide. I knew he was depressed I just never knew what to say to make him feel better and things progressively got worse and worse. Before he killed himself he quit seeing his therapist and started drinking more and more. Toward the end, I couldn’t even get him to return my phone calls. When his mom called to tell me he’d shot himself, I was devastated. I should have been there.
Since then he’s all I think about. Sleeping is hard because I dream of him asking me for help. I listen to the songs he liked and go to the places he used to visit.
People tell me to move on and I want to, but nothing seems to matter. I’m normally an upbeat, friendly person but now I don’t want to talk to anyone or do anything, it’s even hard to look forward to my last year of college. I know I’m not myself anymore but what can I do? This isn’t like me. I guess now I know exactly how Joey felt.
Missing My Friend
My deepest sympathy on the loss of your friend. It’s never easy when a loved one dies. The fact that it happened due to suicide makes it even more difficult as friends and family members struggle to understand why the person would end their life and what they could’ve done to prevent it.
You’re not to blame for Joey’s decision. The reasons a person commits suicide are varied but at the bottom of each one is a deep depression whose roots go beyond immediate situations. The loss of a job or a failed relationship is stressful and painful, but unless there’s something of far greater emotional magnitude beneath the surface, no one ends their life over it.
I don’t know the details of Joey’s life, his family environment, or the stresses he faced, nor the support system he had—or didn’t have—in place. What I do know is that he made the decision to stop therapy, to drink, and to withdraw from the world. My heart goes out to him--how despondent he must have felt!--yet to blame yourself or to feel you had within you the ability to cure him of his mental illness is to see within yourself a power that couldn’t exist.
We can support loved ones, can offer counsel and comfort, we can be there in person, by email or phone, and can support them in all the steps toward self-improvement they take, but we can’t make them do what they won’t do. To think otherwise is to ignore that we each have freewill, and that any change must be motivated by our own inner desire to move out of our suffering. So continue to love your friend, to celebrate the wonderful person he was, to understand the pain he must have been in to take such a drastic step, but don’t choose to carry the blame for his decision.
Your grief is understandable. It’s normal to miss our loved ones in the spirit realm, to feel bereft of their presence, the sound of their voice, the small and large details that made them so important to us. Grief is a process and is unique to each individual. I often tell my clients that if their loved one has been gone two years, that’s only two Christmases, two birthdays, two anniversaries which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. So it’s understandable that you would still feel a sense of loss over such a tragic death.
Are you seeing a therapist? If you aren’t, my first suggestion is to find someone reputable in the field, a licensed therapist trained in grief counseling. They can help you untangle the myriad threads of loss you’re feeling. You say he was your best friend, but friendships mean something different to each person. Perhaps he was your constant companion, the person you depended upon to help you through your own life difficulties. If he was your main source of support, your social and familial connection, it may take time to learn to develop the strength and skills necessary in order to develop faith in your own talents, to develop healthy new relationships.
What I’m concerned about in your letter is your comments about him coming to you in dreams, asking for help, and your description of how you’re adopting his habits and feelings. These are common symptoms of spirit attachment and while it’s not a well-known phenomenon, I see it more and more in my own practice.
In the normal progression of death, when the spirit leaves the physical shell called the body, it’s met by loved ones on the other side before progressing to the light and love of the spiritual realm. Just as with our earthly birth, the process of death occurs without a hitch for the vast majority of individuals. Yet there are those who do not—for a variety of reasons—progress toward the light.
Perhaps their death was sudden and violent and they’re unaware of their passing. Five minutes after death a person feels the same as they did five minutes prior. If they’re a cranky, impatient and irritable person before death, they’ll likely be that way right after. The same if we’re calm, loving and tender. With that in mind, imagine a small shock to your system, a blink, a shake of your head and then looking around, wondering what happened.
You feel the same, perhaps even better, normal aches and pains are suddenly gone. You turn toward the nearest person, or perhaps a familiar loved one only to have them ignore you. The more you yell or wave your hands, the more frightened you become as you realize they can no longer hear or see you. This is the plight of a spirit unaware of their own passing and since time as we know it doesn’t exist on the other side, this can go on indefinitely.
There are also those who know they’ve died but choose not to go to the spiritual realm. Perhaps they fear harsh judgment awaits them from a punitive God. Or perhaps they see the grief and anguish of their loved ones on the earth plane and feel they must stay to help them in whatever way they can. Revenge and hatred can also cause a spirit to remain, as can unfinished business. Addictions are often the cause of earthbound spirits as their lost souls continue their search for vicarious highs.
When a spirit becomes earthbound for any reason, they can choose to attach themselves to a living person. We each have an energetic immune system called the aura which protects our energy field, much as our physical selves have an immune system that fights off illnesses. If our aura is compromised in any way, however, this can leave us open to an attachment. The same things compromising our physical immune system can contribute to a lowered energetic immunity.
When you say that you can’t move on, when you say he constantly asks you for help in dreams, when you say you’re doing what he used to do, to the point that you end your letter by saying that you know and understand exactly how he felt, that makes me wonder if his spirit hasn’t attached itself to you.
Don’t be afraid or fearful. This isn’t possession or a cause for exorcism. Remember, this is the same friend you knew while he was living, only now he’s made of energy rather than flesh and blood. There are steps—in addition to seeking counseling—that you can take on your own in order to help him move on and to allow you to properly grieve and regain your normal love of life.
First, pray. Whether it’s to Jesus, God, Buddha, Mohammed, the Great Spirit or your own Higher Power, pray that your friend’s spirit be surrounded by light, ask his guides and angels fill him with love and joy as they escort him to the light of the spiritual realm. See him in your mind’s eye being imbued with golden-white light until he’s filled and surrounded by this radiating warmth. Ask that you be freed from any attachment and that the same Divine light and love fill you and strengthen and repair your aura. Imagine your own body being filled and surrounded with golden-white light, radiating two to three feet from your physical body.
You can speak to Joey, telling him that you love and care for him but that he cannot remain attached to you. Explain that he needs to move to the spiritual realm and instruct him to look around for the light that’s just awaiting his notice. If you know that a loved one of his is on the other side, you can instruct him to look for his grandmother—for instance—or another loved one and they’ll appear to help him cross.
If you don’t feel better, if you don’t have a sense of lightness and a lifting of the weight you’ve been under, please write me again.