There are pivotal days in our lives, days that shape us, challenge us, and ultimately forever change us as humans. For me, 18 April, 2018, is one of those days. On that day, a little over six months ago, one of my best friends passed away in a cycling accident on Stillorgan Road. No amount of eloquently-strung together words could even begin to describe who Harry was as a person and friend. He was the definition of sunshine and had a love for life that was positively infectious; I don’t think he ever met a person he couldn’t make smile, except maybe the occasional bouncer on Harcourt Street. I admired so much about Harry, but nothing more than the love he had for his family and friends. I only hope he knew how deeply that love was reciprocated.
In my life I have experienced grief, but losing Harry was unparalleled to anything I had dealt with before. The sheer shock and disbelief left me emotionally stunted for days, and I was unable to comprehend how this tragic accident could have happened to my friend. Sure, I knew that horrible things happened to great people every minute of every day, but that never truly hit home until I lost Harry, so tragically young, so unexpectedly. In the past months, I have become well acquainted with the 5 stages of grief.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These are the 5 stages of grief people go through after experiencing a loss, ultimately arriving at acceptance. I like schedules, so I was very grateful to have these 5 stages to guide me on my journey to acceptance, but I quickly realised that I was naive in my thinking that these stages would serve as a universal manifesto for dealing with loss. While in the past 6 months I have experienced all 5 stages of grief at some point or another, and I now know that the road which leads to acceptance is winding, and reaching acceptance doesn’t mean you are suddenly able to move on completely, never to grieve again. I have accepted that Harry is gone, but I also know that a day will never go by where I don’t think of him, his laugh, his friendship. He is far too unforgettable.
In losing Harry, I gained insight. It is easy to coast through life on cruise control, thinking you can push off plans, goals, and words unsaid. The reality is, there’s no time for that. We never know how much time we have. If there is something you have always dreamt of doing, do it. Tell people how you truly feel. Live a life you are passionate about, and wake up ready to seize each day. Tell your family and friends how much you love them every chance you are given, then hug them all a little bit tighter. Make time for the things you love and the people you love. Go skydiving, interrailing, or even just go on that night out with your mates. Whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t just push it off until tomorrow, next month, or next year. There is no way to guarantee the amount of ‘nexts’ we are allotted. Because of Harry, I am eternally grateful for each day I am given; the good, the bad, the boring. And I plan to spend each of those days leading a life I am thrilled to live, for Harry.
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