Broken

I have worked in mental health for 10 years and have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I work with children and adolescents with behavior and mood disorders — mostly adolescents suffering with suicidal ideation, and some have made attempts, but nothing could have prepared me for the phone call I received late Friday night on January 22, 2021.
I ignored the first call because I did not recognize the number, then a text came through that said he was a friend of yours and to call asap. I thought you had been in an accident or something so I called immediately, but then a state trooper answered the call and said the words I will no longer forget “Shane is no longer with us”. It took my breath away, the shock and disbelief overwhelmed me. I said “is this a joke?” and he repeated it. I said “No, you wouldn’t tell me this over the phone, you would come to my house”. He stated my sister in law needed me. I asked to speak to her because I still did not believe it. I thought it was a joke. I then heard her hysterical in the background, his friend took the phone and confirmed it was not a joke. I asked what happened and he said “He was upset” and that’s when I knew.
Then I needed to spring into action. My family needed me–my parents, my sister in law-I needed to get there, but I couldn’t. My 10 month old daughter was asleep and my husband who works overnights was at work. But I had to go there. I needed to be with my family.
I first called my husband and told him. There was silence at first. But he was going to leave work as soon as possible to get home-about an hour drive. I then called my parents-my mom answered. She was already on her way and crying. I just wanted to hug her so tight. She said she wasn’t going to call me, but I assured her I was on my way. She just pleaded with me to “be careful”. Then I called my in-laws who live 10 minutes away and they came right over to stay with my daughter until my husband got home.
It was a 10 minute drive to his house. I remember pulling up to all of the police cars. I got right out and ran to my mom and took her in my arms and hugged her so tight. All my life she had said things like “no parent should have to bury their child” and “if anything ever happened to one of you…” And now her worst fear was a reality.
My sister in law was sitting inside the police cruiser and would not open her eyes, I hugged her and comforted her as much as I could. She kept saying she was sorry-placing all the blame on herself. Her sister was there and my brother’s best friend and his wife, and my dad (who was my brother’s step-dad but had pretty much raised him since he was 2).
We stood outside for almost 2 hours while police cleared the house and it was cold that night. I learned of some of the details. I remained strong for everyone around me and though that night is somewhat blurry, there are pieces I will never forget.
I knew you were struggling the last few months. We were 7 years apart. My older brother who I literally looked up to-a foot taller than me- and figuratively. I got involved in sports when I was younger because my big brother played sports. Life took us on our own paths and we only saw each other a few times a year but mom would keep my updated. I’d always ask how you were and I had been saying after some things mom told me that you needed to get help, you needed therapy. She said she knew and talked to you about it, but that was it. Just deep down my intuition was telling me you were struggling-I just didn’t know how bad it was.
But despite our busy lives, you were always there for me. During the start of the pandemic when I was pregnant you called me and got me supplies because you didn’t want me going into the stores and when we lost power for a week in the summer with a newborn you were trying your hardest to get us a generator and the last time you text me was a few days after Christmas telling me Lowe’s received more generators. The last time I saw you was Christmas Eve and we played a game as a family for the first time and I thought it was the start of a new, fun family tradition.
But you were unhappy with your job, had relationship conflicts, and we suspected PTSD from a car accident you were involved in several years ago that was never your fault. I can’t imagine the emotional pain you were experiencing and the physical pain because you had back pain and more recently over the last few years digestive issues. But something happened over the last few months that drastically affected you.
Now that I know some of the events leading up to your decision, I wish I had known more. I wish she had communicated with his family that you were not okay and yes I have been cycling through the stages of grief- anger, sadness, denial- experiencing some guilt and anger towards others, ultimately I tell myself this is what you wanted, even though it hurts so bad, you were hurting more.
I just wish I knew. I wish we could have helped you. I have access to so many resources, if only I was aware that you needed more interventions. But I know what I need to do for my own mental health and I am seeking the support I need and figuring out how I can turn this tragedy into advocacy.
I just wish you knew how much I loved you and appreciated you. You truly were a loving, caring man who was always helping others, you just had trouble helping yourself. I hope that I can take this tragedy and turn it into something good- like advocacy. You will always be my big brother, and now my sweet daughter has the BEST Guardian Angel and I will make sure she knows just how wonderful her Uncle Shane was.
I pray to God every day that he has you wrapped up in his arms and that your physical and emotional pain are gone. I hope you are playing basketball and catching touchdowns, eating like a King, and blaring your rap music. I love you Big Bro. Rest In Peace.

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