David E. LaVergne
5 years ago today I lost one of my best friends, Shelby. It was a Monday. It was a strangely nice morning for August in Louisiana. Very low humidity and it was probably in the 70s causing for a very cool day and for me to be in a great mood. I went in to work, a job Shelby had gotten me at a grocery store in town. He was promoted earlier in the year to being an Assistant Manager of another one of the stores. Everyone knew him who worked there. Shelby's mom worked in the main office for the company. So really everyone knew the whole family. I had been battling depression for years. I really don't know when it started, but by this time it had gotten really bad. I was not sleeping very much. I had often thought about suicide as an option for myself. The only thing that really ever stopped me was my dog. I really didn't want to abandon my dog. I don't think any of my family or maybe all but 2 friends were aware of my mental state at this time and the 2 friends that know only knew after the fact. So, to me it was just really odd that I woke up in such a good mood. I think I was only at work a couple of hours when the District Manager came up to me and asked if I had talked to Shelby. Which was weird but I really didn't think too much of it. He told me his mom couldn't get ahold of him which I thought was really weird, but he had the day off and it was still early so I just thought he was probably still sleeping. Again, I thought nothing of it. But eventually he did..
"Shelby shot himself this morning."
I really don't know how long it was after this conversation that the store manager walked past me and said he needed to talk to me in the back followed by the Front-end manager. We looked at each other confused and followed the store manager to the back. He struggled to tell us. I don't remember much of how I reacted except for crying. I know I had planned on just to keep working but they made me leave, which was for the better. I just figured if I kept working I didn't have to think about it. I really wasn't sure where to go when I left because I didn't live with anyone at the time and I really did not want to go to an empty apartment. So, I went to my parents house but everyone had left for work already. I sat in the driveway for a minute and realized that I was probably the first friend of Shelby to know about it. I called and woke up one of my friends who lived right down the road who was also friends with Shelby. The day pretty much consisted of us driving to other friends work place or apartments and telling them the news.
The hardest thing for me throughout the following week and months after was talking to other friends and his parents. I really hated seeing everyone in so much pain. So I just surpassed whatever I was feeling to try and comfort everyone else I possibly could. I was not handling anything very well. I got even less sleep which cumulated on the morning of the funeral when I was driving back home and fell asleep and totaled my car. I was emotionally drained and I can honestly say I didn't feel anything about it.
I moved to North Dakota the next Fall to return to school. It seemed to help me getting on to something else. That fall I really didn't feel any depression. I still thought about Shelby and I still do but I felt like I was coping better. Looking back I was just keeping myself busy. The next semester after I didn't have anything to keep me busy everyday; the depression came right back. It got extremely bad. One night I decided to let everyone know about how I was feeling. This was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I made a long post to my frats private group. They were extremely supporting. I can't think of anything that helped me finally grieve and cope with everything more than doing this.
The biggest thing I can recommend is talking to other people. Anytime I did before I never or rarely said how I felt or what was going on. I finally was able to understand and live with my own emotions.
Please, I know it's awkward and uncomfortable and you don't want to burden anyone but if you feel depressed or you are shutting out how you feel to help other grieve, please, just let someone know. You will be surprised about how good it feels to vent it out.