I’ve been writing letters to him as a way to help me express the grief I’m experiencing and decided to publish this blog in the hopes that it may help other people who have also experienced such a loss.
I do need to say that some of it may be difficult to read. I have chosen not to modify or filter my thoughts in any way that may make them less true for the sake of making others more comfortable. Grieving the suicide loss of someone close to you is not a comfortable process and I wanted to honor that by remaining as truthful as possible. The best way through the grief is just that– through it, not around it. Those feelings need to be dealt with– if not now, they’ll find their way out sooner or later. Very painful things come up and often those around us would like the feelings to go away and just want the “old us” back. The problem with that is that person no longer exists; the very fabric of our being has been irriversibly changed and there are a lot of feelings that go along with learning to survive in our “new normal.”
While some of it may sound alarming please know that I am OK– this is the process that works best for me as I continue to grieve the loss of my only brother. If even one person out there reads my letters and feels just a little less crazy or a little less alone… I’ll have considered this a great success.
I’ve also included links to a few great websites off to the left under “Resources.” I have no affiliation with them but they are wonderful organizations relating to mental health, self-injury support and suicide prevention and awareness. I’d like to extend a special thank you to The Christi Center. They offer free grief support groups here in Austin, Texas. I began attending their Tuesday evening meetings for survivors of suicide a few weeks after Brian’s death and their love, help and support have been absolutely invaluable to me.
Thank you for reading!
My First Letter to Brian:
I’ll never forget the last time I saw you. It was July 5th, 2010– you brought me back to the airport after my visit home for Mom’s birthday. The entire ride was so heartbreaking; I could feel it– your profound sadness. I tried to get you to talk about it but you kept changing the subject… so I let it be. I just wanted to spend time with you. I didn’t want the ride to end; the closer we got to the airport the more anxious I grew. I didn’t want to say goodbye to you– something was happening that made my heart ache for you but I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. You got out to help me with my bags, I gave you a hug and said, “Come visit me soon, OK?? See ya later, dude.” Once inside the airport doors I allowed myself to turn around in time to see you driving away; I started sobbing because in my heart I knew I’d never see you again… and I didn’t.
That part still haunts me– that I was so connected with you that I could sense that but yet I didn’t feel it the moment you died. It will take me a lifetime to get past the fact that an entire week had passed before you were found. I felt like I let you down– that not only did you die alone but you continued to lie there alone for a week while I went about my life. “He’s gone, honey.” Those are the first words I heard from Mom confirming that what we had hoped hadn’t happened really had… and the nightmare began. For weeks I would call your cell phone several times a day just to hear your voicemail message; I worry that I’ll forget the sound of your voice. I was a mess the first time I called your number after it was finally disconnected– it was like you had died all over again and the last remaining connection I had to hearing your voice again was gone.
I keep running through our life together over and over in my head. We were so close in age that we shared everything together– we experienced all stages of life at the same time: childhood… high school… college… jobs… everything. And we even liked each other enough to choose to be roommates as adults! I loved that we were not just brother and sister, but we were friends. We both included each other in our circles of friends and activities. I keep trying to remember those things; our Sundays watching the Simpsons, you “singing” me the X-Files theme song, pizza and football games, and even you trying, very patiently, to teach me how to drive a manual transmission! You had the most amazing, contagious laugh and a very gentle spirit and are going to be missed by so many people– more than you could have ever imagined. It may not make sense but it feels like you have taken that past with you… and it also feels as though you have also taken my future as I never imagined it without you.
I often wonder how long it’ll be before those memories bring me more joy than pain– because right now it hurts to think of them. My heart is broken! I find myself detaching from the world, I’m suffering from frequent panic attacks when the pain is just so strong it takes my breath away. I have become jealous of others who have siblings who are still here– and am hurt when I see them angry with each other. I am not the same person anymore; I feel so isolated, so different from everyone else. I can laugh… but have no true joy right now. I suppose some happiness will come back someday… but for now there’s only a hole in my heart where you used to be.
Please know that I am not angry at you now… nor do I think I ever will be. I have been to that place myself before and fought my way back out. I know it wasn’t a compulsive choice you made but rather the culmination of years and years of battling a crippling depression and you held on as long as you could– for us.
I miss you and think of you every waking moment. Instead of saying goodbye to you, since I know I’ll see you again, I’ll just say what we always said to each other– “See ya later, dude.”
Your loving sister,