This EXPECT NOTHING is a reaction to the "fashion" feature "Last Words" recently published by Vice Magazine.

I found out that he had died via text message. My friend, in a state of shock, hadn't yet worked out how to say the words aloud. They escaped from me before I realised the same. After I pushed away her comforting arms and slumped onto the floor, my girlfriend threw some of my things in a bag, essentials like toothbrush and phone charger. Things I had no hope of remembering on my own. She knew I had to go home for a while.

My brain was a cloud. Full of sloshing water. It was like I had been staring into the sun and suddenly looked away. I couldn't focus on any one thing. My legs were too weak to pace but couldn't sit still. My arms became shaky from perpetually tensing and releasing. My hands wouldn't grip the mug of tea that was placed in them. It sat on the table top until it went cold. The first of many drinks undrunk.

The word got round. I found myself back home in a living room drinking beer with kin and asking questions. We were a close knit bunch from a small town. People drove for hours to be there. Arriving with no words and no answers. Arriving just to be there. Suddenly awkward typical men. Grabbing small talk like nothing mattered more. Trails of sentences picked up and continued forever after into the ether. Attempting just to fill the void. The all encompassing void which smothered our words to silence. Broken only by the word, why?

After that first night, we didn't ask any more questions, we just held fast together. Seeking solace in company. We drank because it was what we did. We tried to make each other laugh because it was what we did, we didn't talk about the "good times", that didn't happen until much later. Long after the funeral. It was the elephant in the room. The reason we were together which we tried not to mention. We were in shock but we didn't know it. I guess we said the word, but we were so caught up in it, that we couldn't comprehend what it meant. Or truly understand how shock felt. They say when someone close to you dies it is like having a big black ball sitting in your field of vision. At first you cannot see anything else. It's always there. You have to put your life back together around it. Eventually, you begin to focus on the things you have built, around the edges. But it never goes away, or diminishes in size.

I never really came to terms with it back then. We tried so hard to be strong for each other, and I couldn't find the words without breaking down, so I didn't find the words. We just held onto each other with a distance in our eyes. Deep down I couldn't find peace in his decision, not because suicide is such a taboo subject, but because he didn't let any of us try to help him like he had helped me. Looking back I can see how it tore us all apart. First the shock, then the doubt. The unanswered questions. The never-ending second guessing. The sullen eyes of near strangers. All those unspoken words. All those hastily closed boxes reopen.

As soon as the shock sank into reality the pressure to function as before became apparent. Only a handful of people were brazen enough to talk about it to me. Most of them painfully clunked around the subject. Although some had the courage (or social ineptitude) to ask the questions I was busy asking myself. Why did he do it? Did you know he was feeling like that? Why didn't you do anything?

Or as one popular culture magazine ventured, 'Where can I get that shirt he was wearing?'