Losing someone is hard. Losing someone to suicide is harder.
I am not a fan of SHINee as I’m not totally into KPop. I do watched K-dramas, and the only idols I know are the ones who caught my attention while watching. Among all the SHINee members, I was only familiar with Choi Minho until the news of Kim Jonghyun’s apparent suicide made headlines and shocked a lot of people all over the world. As a member of the famous SHINee, Jonghyun’s suicide came as a surprised to many, considering nobody in the public knew what he was really going through. Most people think that fame and glamor makes people live life to the fullest. But, as we saw with Jonghyun’s case, it was not and never would have been.
His sudden death last year brought many heartaches to fans worldwide, but most especially to his family and closest friends. I saw video clips on Instagram taken during his funeral, where his family and the remaining four members of the boy group served as principal mourners. Even just by watching the clips, I could feel the pain and the loss of those people present. Tears overflowed and everyone was filled with too much emotion from losing someone so dear and talented as Jonghyun.
Among all the members, it was group leader Onew who caught my attention the most. I didn’t know who he was during the funeral, but seeing him was pretty difficult, even for a stranger like me. Amidst all the tears during the funeral, he stood there strong and comforting his younger members. He didn’t cry as much as the other members did in front of the cameras. He was like a solid figure being brave against the whole ordeal. After some research, I found out that he was the group’s leader and the oldest member, which must have put a lot of pressure on him as he thinks about the group’s future. Further into my research, I also learned that Onew was accused of harassing a woman months prior to Jonghyun’s suicide. Though the charges were dropped, people criticized him heavily, prompting him to retire from SHINee’s events and keep away from the public eye for a while.
Looking back at the funeral, and how he tried to keep a strong façade, made me realized that he is also suffering inside, and he might end up like Jonghyun too. People were worried about him after seeing him during the funeral and, despite the hatred and negative publicity during the harassment case, many offered their support and love to Onew. This simple act of being there for someone can help big time in dealing with their personal depression and suicidal ideations, if there are any. Hence, all the love and support by the people around them helped SHINee members, one way or another, to cope with Jonghyun’s passing and deal with what the future holds for them.
Earlier in January, the four remaining group members (Onew, Minho, Key, and Taemin) posted handwritten letters stating their Japan concert will push through this February despite Jonghyun’s absence. The series of concerts in Japan had been planned last year, months before the death of Jonghyun. However, it was put on hold after his death since the members and staff didn’t know what to do next or how to proceed.
Reading each of their letters, which were already interpreted into English, amazed me at how each of them coped with losing a dear friend and a brother. They didn’t hate Jonghyun despite what he did, leaving them all in chaos and, some, with guilt. Instead, they chose to cope with the loss by honoring him in their concert and doing the things they believe Jonghyun would want if he was still alive.
A part of Onew’s letter read how the mother of Jonghyun encouraged him to get back to his life, even after the ordeal.
“I thought I should not. I thought I couldn’t perform at the concert either. However, Jonghyun’s mother told me to never quit. And I thought about whether I could comfort many people who are hurting and missing [him].”
Minho, meanwhile, stated in his letter that the love from other people helped them cope with their issues.
“As we and Jonghyun had promised with you all, whenever we get exhausted and want to give up, whenever our hearts get weak and we want to run away, we will remember that your hands give us the most strength and we will keep singing for you all. The extent of our struggle is more than anyone can imagine, but we trust that you will give us the strength to overcome it.”
Key’s message showed, even if the person is no longer here, no one should feel guilty about it or stop living.
“I don’t think it would be right to give up everything and expect to heal. In the midst of a lot of concern, we have decided to carry on with our concert in Japan as planned. This is what Jonghyun would have wanted for us.”
As for Taemin, he was honest enough to admit “the future will not be that easy.” But with the “beautiful memories” he had with SHINee members and fans, he doesn’t want to give up. With Taemin’s words, let us all be reminded to keep living with the memories of those we love despite them not being here with us physically anymore.
People who end their lives may have lived in loneliness, but most of them wouldn’t like for people they left behind to feel alone or guilty since they know firsthand how hard it was to live life that way. Just like the SHINee members, people who have lost someone must continue living with the happy memories of those who passed away regardless of the cause of death. There is no reason for finger pointing or feeling guilty. What’s been done, has been done. All we can do now is help other people who are experiencing the same state of mind as Kim Jonghyun. There are many people out there who need our help and we need to be there for them; coping while reaching out to those in need is the best way to do it positively./WDJ