Ask Andrew W.K.: How to Cope With the Death of a Friend

AndrewWKcontemplative.jpg
Photo by Alex M. Smith
[Editor's note: Every Wednesday New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]

Dear Andrew,

My best friend just died. He was killed in a car accident. I'm totally devastated; I can't eat or sleep or even breathe. He was like a brother to me. We had been friends since we were really young and we grew up together. I feel beyond sad, and also angry. I don't know what to do. Life feels like it has lost its meaning and I can't bring myself to do much of anything. I've never had someone this close to me die before. Now that he's gone, it's got me afraid of the other people I love dying, too. Why does life have to work this way? Why do people have to die? Please help me. Please.

With gratitude,
Missing My Friend

See also: Ask Andrew W.K.: Letting Go of Stress

Dear Missing My Friend,

I'm truly sorry your friend has died. My heart and thoughts go out to you and all of your friend's family and everyone else who was close to this young man. I'm assuming he was young because the particularly painful anguish you're describing is usually reserved for someone who leaves the earth way too soon. It's also sad when a very old person dies, but in a different way than when we lose someone who still had so much life left to live. Even though you and I aren't physically near each other, and even though I didn't know your friend, I feel for you.

I'm thinking of you, and you're reading this and thinking of me. There is a magic here, the magic of human love. It's a genuine feeling that I hope you can sense, wherever you are and whatever else you're feeling. I'm sending you all the thoughts and concentrated love I can muster. You never need to feel alone in your darkest moments of loss and sadness because even strangers can care about you. Even people you've never met, who are thousands of miles away, can really care about you -- that's the magic of humanity. And it's by using this magic that you can still be close with your friend who died.

When anyone we care about dies, it hurts. And it's meant to. But when a best friend dies, it hurts in a unique and mysterious way. The pain of losing your friend is severe and almost intolerable, but it should be felt for all it's worth. You must have the courage to honor your friend by feeling all of it. You can take some comfort in knowing it won't always hurt in the fresh, stinging way it does now, but it will linger and somewhat soften until it's primarily a memory of the pain you feel now. I can remember how it hurt when I broke my nose -- the immediate pain was unimaginably intense, and even though it's well healed now, the suffering is easily recalled and the blinding pain can almost be felt via memory. This is important.

You never fully "move on" from the death of someone truly close to you. You never "get over it" or forget about it. You wouldn't want to lose any part of your experience of that person, no matter how much it hurts to keep him with you. This doesn't mean you give up on life. But you don't have to feel like it's required for you to move past your friend and what he meant to you. This is how he will be with you forever.

Even though now it may seem like you want the pain of losing your friend to stop, hold on to it. Become familiar with it. Get to know all the flavors and colors and textures of this pain. Explore the sound and smell of it. This aching in the depths of your soul is a stunningly beautiful and natural explosion of the sacred proof that you loved your friend truly and and very, very deeply. Do not be afraid to feel it and even fall in love with this pain. Even though it hurts, you must cherish this feeling and do all you can to not give into the urge to cancel it out.

It's also OK to swallow all these feelings down deep inside. That's sometimes the best place for them to be, in order to keep them protected and alive. If you don't feel like talking about your feelings to other people, then you don't have to. Besides, silence is an extremely powerful way to accomplish anything in life, including healing and dealing with a loved one's death. Listen to what your instincts are telling you to do and trust your soul and the spirit of your friend -- they are there and will lead you and protect you.

Also remember that you are your friend. The thoughts and ideas you had and still have about him are your creations and concepts as much as they were his. You are made of each other. The times you spent together helped shape your days and make you the person you are right now. Your friend is bound up in all of you, as much a part of you as your blood and bones.

Lastly, remember that all of our experiences in the world ultimately occur in our mind and soul. When your friend was alive, you looked at him with your eyes and heard him with your ears, and those senses formed impressions and thoughts in your mind. Now that your friend is dead, you are still using your mind to think about him and perceive him, just as you did when he was standing right in front of you. He really is still here. He still is where he always was to you: inside your mind. This is what people mean when they say someone's spirit will always be with you. They really always are with you, it's just a different version of their presence than when they were alive -- but it's just as real and it counts just as much. Never doubt that or let anyone try to make you think otherwise.

Most of all, remember that your friend brought you joy and laughter, understanding and comfort, inspiration and companionship. Your friend still wants those things for you, and you can respect his life by doing your best to be joyful in the life you have left. Be brave for your friend. Laugh for your friend. Provide inspiration and comfort and friendship to the people around you right now, as your friend did for you. This is the best way to keep the spirit of your friend alive: Be fully alive yourself.

Don't be afraid. Your friend is OK. And wherever he may be, he is also still with you. Learn all you can from this experience. Be brave and keep an open heart, so that you can share these ideas and truths with others when they need it most. We will all lose people we love, and we can all help each other through it.

Stay strong,
Andrew W.K.



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
pauloniusjcanuck
pauloniusjcanuck

Stephan Galdau, You don't really understand what depression is do you? 

PS...you're not as smart as you think you are.

Jesse Gillen
Jesse Gillen

Stephan Galdau stfu seriously go play in fucking traffic.

Stephan Galdau
Stephan Galdau

Fuck Robin Williams. He should have visited a VA Hospital and visit a 19 year old kid with no legs trying to cope and survive or go to a Boys & Girls club and talk with an 8 year old whose parents prostituted him/her for drugs. I have. I am supposed to feel sorry for a millionaire with fame, riches and access to treatment and help? Think about his family. His wife and children are the ones that are in pain. Please.

unholylight666
unholylight666

You are a master with advice, and I think the whole world would be a better place if everyone could hear your wisdom and be touched by it  

dan058
dan058

Damn Andrew WK is a beautiful dude

evetothelynch
evetothelynch

Really excellent advice. I lost a close friend a few years ago. He was only 23. I was utterly devastated. Even now it still hurts sometimes and I miss him terribly, but I also draw strength from knowing that I was lucky enough to know him and love him and experience life with him, good times and bad. He will always be part of my life, even in death. You are quite right, Andrew, when you say that they really are always with you.

Roy Taormina
Roy Taormina

Really beautiful advice. It was quite moving and powerful.

Martina Schreiner
Martina Schreiner

What a wonderful piece of writing, thank you! I love the part about someone's spirit always being with you, it doesn't make it entirely ok, but it helps you cope with a loss so big it makes it hard for you to breathe sometimes. 'be brave and keep an open heart', it's difficult nowadays but it's also definitely worth trying! Thank you Andrew, very powerful! I was in tears.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

Is he going to bleed all over himself again?

Cathy Draney Mead
Cathy Draney Mead

Lovely. I lost a friend many years ago. Embrace the friendship.

Cara Shaw Parrish
Cara Shaw Parrish

Aaron Armour was the first person I thought of. Next, I thought of Judah NineNine Wilmot and Cody and anyone else from the force choke crew that was close to Aaron. I love you guys and I hope these words can help you. His life will always be a part of your great memories. XoXo

marleneeboudreaux
marleneeboudreaux


Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

----------------------> http://w­w­w­.J­o­b­s­7­0­0.­c­o­m

HaVee
HaVee

So beautiful, insightful and so needed right now as I work through my grief for the unexpected death of my father. Thank you, Andrew.

kateyanne
kateyanne

Andrew thank you. Just last night a friend told me how her father is 'still talking' about his wife (her stepmom) who died three years ago. She told him people won't want to be around him anymore if he keeps talking about her. That's the same thing she said to me 26 years ago after my husband (33 years old) died. It hurt. Now I know the trouble is her fear, her stuff. My dead husband is a part of our lives, and anyone who doesn't want to talk about it with me doesn't get to be in too close. :) Thank you for your incredible, amazing piece.

Parker Lefevre
Parker Lefevre

Andrew W K told me to start bouncing up and down on black cock and it's the best thing I ever did.

AndyBee
AndyBee

I lost my friend too. I remember I got really sick and almost passed out when I realized she was really gone wasn't coming back.It was odd and just hit me. But the memories are there, I remember her in my mind and her voice and even remember some of the emotions I felt when we argued or laughed together. Memories are there.

Hannah
Hannah

Wow. One of my favorite advice columns from you Andrew.. I started crying in the middle of it- you have an incredible gift for helping people. Thanks.

Wickup Simmons
Wickup Simmons

Alright. I figured that I'd share this here for you buddies. There's this "truth contest" that has a top entry called "The Present" on it. It reveals explanation of the truth of life in the history of mankind. It could change the world if enough people would check it out. You can check this truth yourself. Our problems stem from ignorance of the truth. Let's wake up. www.truthcontest.com

PinkDucky
PinkDucky

Very beautifully written. Thank you for this.

perihelijimm
perihelijimm

My respect for Andrew just doubled. Good people come from humble places.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

Hey andrew any advice on how to stop bleeding ?

jjddknfkldnfh
jjddknfkldnfh

Geez I read the odd post from Andrew WK but this one really hit home. Im lucky in the sense that ive never lost anyone close to me, but I know one day I will. Just like everyone will. We are all connected in that sense that and we will all share a common feeling. Just like Andrew I do not know who you are. I have never meet you and probably never will, but my heart goes out to you. I am truly sorry for your loss. If you find yourself in a dark place please remember that we will hold all the lights for you. 


Someone once said "Aint no shame in holding on to grief.. as long as you make room for other things too."

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...