A Petal for Each Thought


Originally inspired by the idea of the “significance of an individual’s perspective”

Kim Jonghyun released music as a solo artist, composed songs and lyrics for himself as well as for other singers, and was a member of the Korean boy group SHINee.  He passed away by suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning on January 18, 2017.

My English diploma prompt involved the concept of separation and it’s impact on an individual; I wrote about my experiences on the day of as well as the entire week that ensued after his death.

Despite the fact that a month has almost passed, he lingers in my mind. I have decided to incorporate lyrics from songs he has written and notable quotes from him into this reflective piece.

He did not deserve to live a life where he could not express himself.

He did not deserve to live a life where his mental illness was not taken seriously.

He did not deserve to suffer a life so suffocating to the point that he had choked, lost consciousness, and never woke up.

“I’d rather stop breathing instead of breathe stuffy breaths when I wake up.” 

He had it all, the fame, fortune, love- “Why did he make the decision he did?” people asked.

“I was broken from the inside. The sadness that was slowly eating me, finally devoured me, I couldn’t overcome it.”

They could not grasp the perspective in which he viewed the world in. Nobody could.

How can one fully comprehend what it feels like when there seems to be no light found at the end of their dark tunnel?

“Someone please hold me, I’m exhausted from this world. Someone please wipe me, I’m drenched with tears. Someone please notice my struggles first. Please acknowledge the poor me. Please help me.”

During the week of your passing, I slept at late hours whilst staring at the wall, muffled sobs escaping from my lips and into my pillow.

I did not want to believe, nor could I accept that you were gone.

I feel sorry for not being able to do anything, even though I know I couldn’t have in the first place.

I strolled down the halls, head bowed down towards my phone as if I were texting someone important; I was really trying to keep my tears hidden.

School was a place to mourn on failed marks, not on the loss of a loved one.

Even then, people would say that I didn’t even know him, that I was just a fan- but that was not the point.

Can a human being not mourn another human being?

He had touched my heart so deeply that I didn’t have to “know” him to a establish a connection.

I skip each song on my playlist that has your voice- I cannot bear to hear the sound of its angelic beauty. Not yet.

Such sorrowful lyrics hide behind the soothing piano keys that lull people to sleep.

“Dear petal before me, bearing the thick scent that deceived me so that I wouldn’t be able to find you. You imprisoned me in the room of eternity, and now you smile guile-fully and snowy white.”

We were angry at ourselves, at others, and some admit, at you.

Ourselves, because we didn’t notice the signs.

“I’m depressed, it’s depressing, the gloomy clock ticks.”

Others, because they did not help.

“I thought it was easy for the doctor to blame my character or my voice.” 

You, because you had left the world too early.

“But I’m used to just holding it in. Understand me…It’s not a scar leftover I could overcome.”

We say we’ve suffered- a competition of who had it worst, but why are we arguing against what your message has been all along?

“You should never tell anyone that ‘You are not the only one suffering’, ‘Everyone’s like you’, or ‘If you have the courage to die, you can live’. Physical scars and psychological scars are different. I hope everyone can think for a second that scars exist even if you can’t see them.”

You put others before yourself, displayed gestures of love and gratitude to your fullest extent, and encouraged people to feel their feelings.

“Cry out loud once. Look in the mirror and shake it off. I’ve cried like that before and others will have times like that too. Cheer up. You are not alone.”

You weren’t a celebrity that seemed untouchable or invincible, you were a human being on the same level as all of us, and so many people loved you for it. To think that you didn’t feel good enough as having accomplished anything, makes my heart ache.

You must have hopefully thought,

“When time passes, the things that I said were hard and complained about, they will become things of the past…”

but later admitted,

“I didn’t learn how to turn boredom and pains into joy. Pains are pains.”

Whenever I sing, I remember to sing with passion because that is what you have always done.

You remind me to always be kind, to be self-aware and to self-love, to understand others, and to be human.

I no longer cry out of heartache- rather, out of the happiness you have brought and will continue to bring to my life.

You will live on through your music, your selfless acts of generosity, your family and friends, and your fans.

Thank you for everything. I love you.

“Up until now I have endured well. What other words are there. Just say ‘you’ve done well’. Just that much is good. Tell me I’ve done well. You’ve worked hard. You’ve really gone through a lot.”

You did well, Jonghyun. You’ve worked hard, Jonghyun. You’ve gone through a lot, Jonghyun. Now, you can rest and close your eyes in peace.

He deserved to live a life where people could understand him, help with the pain.

He deserved to live a life where he could freely say that he hurt instead of keeping it in.

He deserved to live a life so promising that he could wake up in the morning, take a moment to breathe in the clear air, and let out a sigh of relief.

“Life is a series of encounters and farewells. I believe we grow in the process. For now, it [saying ‘goodbye’] is very sad but we will meet again. We can hope for that day to come soon, and we will be able to greet each other with much bigger welcome.”

Kim Jonghyun


Featured Image

Music Playlist as Tribute to Jonghyun


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2 thoughts on “A Petal for Each Thought

  1. Dearest Faith,

    I cannot even begin to explain what is running through my mind nor am I fully able to grasp at it. I am speechless in the sense that you both took the words out of my mouth and voiced the words I didn’t know I had yet to find. I love your use of quotes in the form of his letter and lyrics. It provided a connection between you and him, allowing for your words to become that much more personal. I also would like to thank you for writing this as it is a beautiful piece which helps people understand grief from a new perspective. It shows the impact someone’s death can have on the world, and will hopefully provide solace to those who read it that to mourn is nothing to feel shameful about.

    I woke up on December 18, 2017 with a bright light casting onto the walls of my room, notifications plaguing the screen of my cellphone. The first words I read the morning I woke up were ones which filled me with dread; I knew something was wrong and felt it deeply in my heart, but had no concrete answers until I entered the passcode to my phone. Suddenly, I didn’t know if I was breathing properly nor if my eyes were reading the proper words – until the world told me to wake up and understand his death as reality. I let myself cry in the darkness of my room, not ready to see the light. I let myself cry tears on the bus rides home, head bent in hopes of no one catching sight of the pain I was feeling as I thought of the agony he must have felt leading up to his death. I sat outside social class catching up on work missed from tech week as tears escaped at the thought of how alone he must have been, how we could have done better for him, how the doctor he confided in failed him.

    The day years ago I took down traces of “SHINee” from my wall kept replaying in my mind.

    Why didn’t I just keep it up there? Why didn’t I try to get to know the group whose music I said I liked? Why did I let them just be a group and not the names of 5 boys whose personalities and talents shined? I felt like I was similar to the doctor, I failed him. I was mourning the death of someone I could have cherished, but didn’t. Did I even deserve to cry? I was angry with myself as it only took his death for me to learn of his struggles, of the awareness for depression he was so vocal about, of that angelic voice and beautiful smile.

    I still don’t feel as though my tears were warranted. He deserved to be remembered for the joy he brought to friends, family and shawols – he deserved to be mourned and told “Jonghyun, you did well.” He deserved all this, but he didn’t deserve for it to be from me in result of his death. However, we cannot turn back time no matter how hard we try, and I have learned to not let this stray me away from loving all that he was.

    No one can fully understand the impact people like him have on us. The truth is that no one who does not experience it for themselves can understand, and it’s sad we felt we had to hide our tears as if it was shameful to be sad someone you love is gone. Even though they don’t understand, hundreds of thousands understand. He understands, you understand… I understand. I thought of you when I heard the news. I couldn’t imagine, as deep as my pain felt, how you were feeling – I knew how much he meant to you, the love you felt from him and the emptiness which came from feeling you lost it. I even saw you once, walking down the halls with your head bent towards your phone. I wondered how you were, felt in my heart your sorrow, but convinced myself you were okay because I didn’t want it to be any other way.

    I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you like I should have been, Faith. I’m sorry you had to hide your tears at school when I should have cried with you. Please remember you were and are not alone, and whenever you feel the pangs of sorrow I will be there to experience it with you by your side.

    No matter if it feels as though you weren’t able to return the love you were given, you have. You have given him support, understanding and reassurance – you have exemplified the impact he wanted to have on his fans and the love he deserves. I have no doubts he feels this warmth as he smiles at us from above or from where he rests peacefully. Whatever you may believe, I know he feels at peace having people like you continue to stay by his side.


  2. Dear Faith,
    This is a very well written piece speaking about a very important topic.
    I really liked certain lines as they related to the human condition. Through my interpretation, you bring up the idea that we can never truly understand others. The emotion in this piece is well communicated.
    Reading it there were one or two sentences that could be rephrased to make them easier to read.
    The idea of grief in this case is sadly ironic because the feeling that were felt for the individual who is gone do not affect them. They are already past the point of no return when people begin to show their appreciation and that is sad that it is not done earlier. To conclude, appreciate those who are with you now before it is too late.
    Sincerely, IB.

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