In April of 2008 my life went from average to completely chaotic within a moment's notice. My very best friend Nikki passed away. It was a drug overdose, which should explain to you why I am always trying to bring awareness to addiction. She was like a sister to me, as I have no real sister and she was the closest girl in my life.
I was 21 years old and the experience has completely changed my life, in some ways for the better and in some ways I will forever struggle.
I know other people out there can relate to many of the things I will list below and while it could be an endless list, I've narrowed it down to 10. These are the 10 most difficult aspects of losing my best friend Nikki.
1. Losing a girlfriend at my age can be especially trying.
Strong female friendships are crucial in your early 20's. Think of all the things that you endure - relationships becoming more serious, starting a career, social drama when everyone starts maturing (some people get married and your friendship fades a bit, etc.) that you constantly vent to your best friend about.
|A Photo of Nikki on City Island in Harrisburg|
|Me on the same swing, 4 years later.|
2. I felt like a fool for not knowing.
We don't always know what is going on in someone else's life and I know that Nikki made it a point to hide certain things from me at the end because she knew I would be so upset. In a way it made me feel good that she thought of me that way, but I also wish I knew then what I know now but I was only 21 and had NO IDEA that Heroin was available or used in my area or even around people my age.
3. I have to defend what happened.
Every time someone asks how she passed away I find myself getting defensive before I even mention the word drug. Most people have a misconstrued view on addiction and drugs so they immediately think of people that are homeless or grungy but the reality is that even the most successful people can fall victim to addiction.
4. Our bond was between us, rather than a group.
Rather than being in a large group of best friends as some do, especially after high school, Nikki and I had a friendship that was strictly between us. And I truly feel that it made things harder when I lost her because the group of people we did hang out with dissolved over time (as most do) so I was losing more and more of the connections to nikki and my friendship.
I also felt like it was more difficult for people to understand the bond her and I had because they didn't experience it first hand a lot.
5. I get jealous from time to time.
Sometimes it's because I see 2 girls bonding and calling each other BFFs and I think to myself "Why can't that be me and Nikki?" or I'll hear people complain about their best friend and I want to tell them they are lucky to still have one alive and well today.
Because of this, I also know to be mindful of how I say things to others, especially because you never know what other people have been through in life and who they've lost. Someone that has lost a parent might not always get sad inside when they hear someone else complaining about their mom or dad, but I always try to keep myself in check because I just never know.
6. I feel like crying when I think about how she won't be in my wedding.
I still have my other best friend and I know she will be in my wedding someday but the initial thought of my wedding always since I was young involved Nikki by my side. It's very hard to adjust to a new vision of your future especially when it's a special moment like your wedding day.
7. Every year on her anniversary I get sad and zone out.
It's inevitable. The first few years I took off work but recently I've tried to stick it out. Some people think it's easier to keep occupied but all I want to do is sit back and reflect. I watch the clock and at every minute I replay what I was doing at that time 6 years ago.
Triggers are an odd thing but they are very common with people who are grieving, which by the way never ends. You will forever grieve a loss but sometimes it's not in a painful way. Anyways, triggers can be a song, a smell, or even a thought. One night I burst into tears at a restaurant because I had become lost in a day dream of me and Nikki and where we would be today.
9. Explaining what Nikki meant to me is frustrating.
And it shouldn't be because it's not like anyone questions it but for some reason I just so badly want to express how much she meant to me. She was basically a sister to me and my best best best friend. When people say Oh yea I lost a friend before, I find myself cutting them off and saying NO... this is my BEST friend....
10. It Gets Better is not true.
It's really not. Actually, a friend of mine named Julie was one of the first to reach out to me when Nikki passed and she said directly to me "I just want to let you know that when people say (and they will) Oh it'll get easier as time goes on.. they are lying. They don't know what it's like because all of the people who do (like me) will tell you it never gets easier, but you do learn to manage the pain and go through life with it."
She was so so right and that is so so true and to this day, whenever someone around me loses a friend or family member, I reach out to them and say the exact same thing. People love hearing that because it's the truth and they know what to expect. People have straight out asked me What's it going to be like for me now that my friend died?
|A photo of me taken a month after Nikki died. My eyes look lifeless and sad.|
I hope this post can help some other people grieving to understand that they aren't alone.