One year ago I posted the entry below.
Half my life ago today, 31 years ago to be exact, my younger brother died. He had set himself on fire and lived for 43 days.
Tomorrow he will be gone more than half my life. It is odd to ponder this milestone. Like all of you here, I did not think I could survive those early years. I had to will myself to take one breath and then the next. Everyone else’s lives were going forward, and I was lost in this unfamiliar and crushingly sad place.
For those new to this awful experience, I want to let you know what it is like to be half my life in this place. I have a full life. I can be happy. My brother’s suicide is still the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But over time this life is my familiar life. His suicide has been woven into the fabric of that life. I am not longer raw with emotion. I have learned to see what gifts have come from this. I can be a voice for others. I can share my experience, strength and hope. While his death was a catastrophic event, it colors who am today. I am in a healing profession and I know the good I do is colored by good times and bad.

Here are some of the things that helped me long the way: writing in a journal gave me a 24/7 outlet, therapy (both with other survivors and individually), learning about better physical health, eating better, waiting (when the awful moments happen, just wait; they will stop), leaning into the sadness instead of running from it. Find someone who can listen. Make a list of what is comforting to you. Keep it close by. Use it.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe, until you can breathe without thinking about it.

A therapist once asked me what I thought my brother wanted for me. Without thinking the answer came out, “Peace. He wants me to be at peace.”

I still believe that. Keep coming back here. We know. We understand. We care.

5 thoughts on “Breathe

  1. So very sorry for your loss,my brother also took his life by setting himself on fire,he didn’t survive at length of time and in a way it was probably for the best he didn’t he would have been in agony until he did,mine died a year ago but i’m only dealing with it now,the first year was just a haze and now it’s like being hit with several sledge hammers at once.He had no peace in life so the only comfort is that he doesn’t wake up every day tortured by his own thoughts,I never blame him for what he did,he didn’t see any light at the end of any tunnel,no silver linings just demons who had a grudge,he’s at rest now while we haven’t slept. I am going to do what you did,a diary or journal and try and just do the living he had so much trouble doing
    it’s always good to know you’re not alone in your grief but a shame others have to suffer it to know they are not alone.

  2. Sorry for your loss. It’s been 2 years since I lost my brother by suicide. The sheer shock and numbness is subsiding but a new pain is here. I hate it. I don’t embrace it. My family is different never to be the same. There’s so much to this story!! We were 6 siblings 5 girls and 1 boy. The only boy gone. Clinically diagnosed bipolar in the family. 2 of the 6 of us and he was one of the 2 with bipolar from our father’s side. Idk. I just can’t get into the whole story. It’s too much and seems unbelievable. I used to take the battle of the loss of him second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by damn week, and I’m still at that. Week by cursed week.. I haven’t made it month by month yet. … but what kills me is that people who haven’t ever experienced this devastation thought at 6 months, 1 year and especially 2 years I should have it figured everything out and be over it! … just no words for the judgement and the devastation suicide brings to a family. But when I hurt where I think I can’t handle it and feel pain and anger crashing in, I remind myself that we all loved him. My parents, siblings family and friends. We don’t judge him or curse him we MISS him and we hope with every fiber of our beings he’s at peace cause he never found his place in this world. RIP beloved Christian! 💔🖤🦉 thank you for sharing your story

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. My brother hanged himself last April and I was having another bad day going through all the things he must have on his final day.

    Your post helped me realise that I should too become a healer. I will look into this. Help people through my pain. Thanks again

  4. My brother took his life November 2018. He was my best friend, my twin soul, confidante and so much more. We helped each other through everything and now he’s gone. It’s such a roller coaster of feelings in each day, almost in each moment. It feels like my soul has been ripped in two and that part of me died with him. I’ve just begun to reach out to groups like this one for a connection. Thank you for being here.

  5. My youngest brother went to our family church and shot himself twice in the heart. He’s been gone 17 years. I am the oldest child, now 66. I am very sorry for everyone who has lost a sibling. I often wonder how to help his daughter who was only 9 at the time or her young son who is 3, his grandson, know the good parts of who he really was. I miss him.

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