So I’m over 10 years late to the party, but I’ve become immersed in the series “Six Feet Under” on Amazon for the past several weeks. I absolutely love it. I’m pretty sure if I’d watched it within the first year after you died that I’d have sobbed through every single episode. I guess it’s another reminder of how far I’ve come in this whole grieving process.
It’s strange how many of the details in the series would, I assume, be alarming to a lot of people which are such a non-issue for me. Mom has worked in a funeral home since we were very young so I was raised spending so much time around funeral homes and talk of death. It’s really never bothered me too much. While watching this show I’m often reminded that all of my years of being exposed to the “behind the scenes” goings on likely prepared me for your death in a lot of ways. There really were no surprises for me. The only thing that was hard for me to understand was being told that I shouldn’t be allowed to see you before you were cremated. I’ve never been angry about it because having known the funeral directors for the majority of my life I have always known that they only had my best interest at heart and felt that viewing you in such a way that you were positively unrecognizable would hurt me far more than it could ever help me. But I’ll admit to you today that I still wish I had been given the chance to even hold your hand and see for myself that it was really you and keep that tortuous little voice of denial in my head at bay. Sadly, I still battle that part of myself that yearns for some proof.
In one of the episodes of “Six Feet Under” I watched today, a character was describing watching her father die over the course of 3 short months following his gastric cancer diagnosis. She said this:
“Watching him die… it was like watching somebody get washed out to sea, only they’re sitting right there in bed. A wave comes, takes them a little away… another wave comes, takes them a little away… every wave is a day and little by little, off they…. off they go.”
It reminded me of your last year. Though I’d last seen you in person 3 months before you died, I could already tell then that you would be leaving us and that a large piece of you had already left. As the months went on, I could hear in your voice on the phone and feel it in your words in texts and emails that more and more pieces of you were continuing to be washed away. I felt absolutely powerless to do anything about it.
That reminds me of something that’s been on my mind lately. I’ve had many people from whom I’ve been asked for advice about suicide. The ones I have the best connection with are those who are suffering their own suicide loss. I find it most difficult when I am sought out as a potential resource for them when they are struggling with their own suicidality or the potential suicide of someone close to them. I tend to freeze up when this happens… if not visibly, I’m certainly panicking on the inside. If I was of any help whatsoever in this department, wouldn’t you, my brother, still be here? I really don’t intend for this to come off as insensitive… but more of a commentary on my own self-deprecation and self-blame for not being able to save you and feeling even less capable of helping anyone else, you know? And truth be told, it’s still so triggering for me because it brings up all those feelings I was experiencing for months before your death. But when it comes to talking and sharing with others who have lost someone to suicide, I’m an open book. After all, I’ve managed to survive four years without you when I didn’t think I was capable so I feel that I do have something very valuable to offer others where dealing with grief is concerned; but when it comes to helping others prevent a suicide… well, I just go numb. Most likely out of self-preservation because if I don’t protect myself, no one else will.
I continue to see you in all things, Brian. Your death has given me an entirely new set of lenses through which I now see the world. And it hasn’t been all bad… but I wish you were still here.
I love and miss you, dude.