You are irreplaceably valuable.

Someone who always lit up my life whenever I encountered her, succumbed to suicide 3 months ago.

Almost every day since I heard this horrible, world-darkening news, I have had a conversation with her in my mind, mostly consisting of questions. And since I can’t say this to her, I’m writing this to anyone else who would ever consider this an ‘answer’.

To N: Your death is now a crater-shaped hole that we have to carry with us now forever. And not in a good, sentimental, gooey, ‘oh wasn’t she beautiful?’ sort of way. But rather in an excruciating, no-way-to-escape-the-pain, oh-please-God-can-we-rewind-this? sort of way. In the aftermath of your choice, the hurt you felt didn’t die with you, it simply transferred from you on to all who knew you. And while we carry this pain now because we must, please know that we don’t want to carry it this way, we’d rather carry you WITH us.

If you are reading this and feeling anything like the struggle my friend felt before she chose this, please know this: Suicide is not the answer, it is only the start of a million painful questions in the hearts and minds of each person you know.

My life is not the same since she left it. Her life, your life, each life, matters in a myriad of ways, if only each of us knew how much. Despite a media landscape glorifying suicide and self-harm: It is not in dying that she had meaning, but in living, in each moment of her being. I wish I could tell her: her purpose wasn’t to be perfect, but just to BE.

If you don’t want your life, just try, instead of giving up, giving it over to others: Sit next to someone in an hospital or retirement home. Volunteer with kids who have cancer…just be you in all its vulnerability, honest pain, and mystery.

You are loved. You are necessary. You are irreplaceably valuable.

Now, just as you are, even with all the imperfection and the struggle, the weariness, and the burden you carry, even when YOU don’t love you…we love you. Please, we need you to choose to live.

(As a final note: if you can’t on your own, just call for help: 1 800 273 8255. Reach out. BEFORE…Because after, there is no understanding, just hurt, grief, and silence.)