Category Archives: Guest Post

Rogue Wave

I am approaching the 5 year anniversary of my younger brothers death. Last year was bearable…but this year is so much worse again. The pandemic isolation is not helping I am sure. I had a dream with him a few nights ago, the first since about a week after we lost him. Lost is such a vague word when talking about death. But in this case totally appropriate. He was last seen jumping off a dock into the freezing Hudson River. His body was never found. He’s not buried anywhere. No one wrote him an obituary or got him a memorial stone to put anywhere. (No one, being my parents or his wife) The apparent reason being…with no body, he’s not legally considered dead for 7 years. I don’t personally see that as a reason to take zero action in those areas. We are all pretty open about it…but not open enough for my liking. His children don’t know what really happened and we can’t speak too loudly for fear of them hearing the truth. They were 5 and 7 when it happened…sure you can’t tell them all the details…but I want to shout it from the rooftops to try and help other people and I don’t feel like I can. So I stay silent.
My therapist has been a lifesaver. For a while he kept asking me if I was feeling angry. I wasn’t. I miss him. I love him. He was 7 years younger than me. I remember being an only child. I was so lonely. I prayed every night after I went to bed for a brother or sister and I was so happy when he was born. On top of that, he was everything I wasn’t. He had a light complexion and a light personality. He was SO funny. No one made me laugh as much…except for my husband…who my brother introduced me to.
But I am angry today. I’m angry at him for most likely thinking that I’m tough and I’d be ok. I’m angry at him for ruining our family…even though we “keep it together”. I’m angry for him abandoning me. For making a decision to leave me alone. Leaving me to worry about his 3 kids and wife. To worry and take care of our aging, now broken parents. Ruining what everyone has told me is “the best decade of your life”…and for people telling me this is the best decade of your life. Angry at him for calling to say goodbye. Angry at myself for not knowing what that phone call was. Angry at myself for not taking care of myself over the last few years…eating like crap, gaining weight, not caring about brushing my teeth for days, wearing makeup or resting…basically not taking care of myself like I know I should. Angry at my parents for not saying the word suicide. Angry at my mom for saying she knows what it’s like to lose a sibling. She lost one of many to illness.
I remember, in the beginning of my grief “journey” reading that grief is like a wave. In the beginning the waves just smash over you and you feel like you’re drowning, and as time goes by the waves get farther apart and you begin to be able to catch your breath. I NEVER thought I would see my way through this at all. I never could imagine how I would ever get my life back to any kind of normal. Well, for all of you out there that are just beginning this awful journey…the waves do get father apart. Some days there are rogue waves that come out of nowhere and knock you over. Like today. Still life is ok. It’s just different. The thing that keeps me going is trying to honor my brother my not letting my life get overwhelmed by what he did. Today I’m mad at him and don’t feel like honoring him…but that gives me some kind of comfort too…because that such a normal feeling…being mad at a sibling. I guess we’re just fighting today.

My Older Brother James :/

I miss my brother so much. He and I were not very close, and I wish we had been. He hung himself on April 3rd, 2018 and my family has never been the same since 🙁 I never thought it was possible to miss someone you hardly know. I wish I could have been there to tell him I love him, I just didn’t know he was suffering so much and needed help. It breaks my heart in two to think of him writing the note and going into the Garden of the Gods with the intent to kill himself. He was always in and out of jobs, had trouble holding onto money, and it makes me so sad that the last words to his girlfriend were that he felt like he had no friends. I wish he was here and I could give him a big hug :'( Life just isn’t the same without him here. </3

I wish you were here…

Seven months ago I lost my brother. A year ago I almost lost myself. We were exactly five months apart. The day after my attempt, he sent me a text message that basically said it’s okay to make mistakes and that I just need to learn from it. He didn’t ask me very much about it but was so supportive at the same time. He listened but never made me talk. He was so understanding. He was everything I wanted to be.

He paved a path I thought I’d be able to follow forever. When his mental health was declining, I took it upon myself to continue that path for him. I wanted him to know that he could follow me too. I wanted to improve my own mental health and set a good example for him like he had always done for me. But I was, and still am, just fifteen. I was still recovering from my own attempt and I couldn’t get better fast enough.

*details of suicide, please don’t read if it’ll trigger you*

My brother jumped off of an overpass and was hit by a moving train at around 10pm on July 27th, 2020. It was 12am when we got the knock at our door. We had to drive 45 minutes to get to the hospital they airlifted him to. We were told he was in the ICU and that we could go see him. Before we could though, the doctors listed off his injuries from head to toe. They let us know he had a pulse but it wasn’t strong enough. My dad and I went to see him first. I had to see my idol laying in a hospital bed barely breathing. I held his hand and it was so cold. They had a heated blanket on him but it was still so damn cold. He always had beautiful eyes and eyelashes. I stared at his face and tried to remember it and burn it into my brain. I held his hand and tried to remember the way it felt in mine. When they unplugged the machine, I had to watch his chest stop moving. My parents were crying so loud. My mom was devastated. I tired to force myself to be strong for her but I just couldn’t.

I just wanted to scream and scream until I couldn’t anymore. I do that now. There are days where all I can do is scream. When my mom goes to work and I’m in my room alone, my pain pours out of my throat. It hurts but I can’t bring myself to stop. I just wish he was here.

I wish you were here

It’s been about seven months but it still hurts. I still miss my big brother. Today I took my pictures for tenth grade and I cried because I felt so ugly. It’s those moments when my confidence is low that I really miss him. He always made me feel beautiful and told me I looked best when I didn’t try. He always told me to just leave the house with my natural hair and don’t do a thing to it. Today I straightened my hair and I still didn’t feel beautiful. I saw the picture and tried to hold it together until I got to the car. I miss him and I miss the way he made me feel pretty.

It’s Your Birthday Tomorrow

Tomorrow, you’d be nineteen. You’d be an adult, have your own apartment, be meeting cool, new people. Traveling. Doing all the things you deserve to do. You deserve a full, complete life, Jake. I’m so sorry that I transferred to an out of state college and didn’t get to spend your last year here with you. When I was struggling with my mental health, you and dad drove the two day trip there and back to get me. I’ll never forget that. You cared so much. I know that you know I cared about you too, I just wish I would have known. In your note, you said you looked up to me. Jake, I’m 23, unemployed, no longer in school, and just had a stay in a mental health facility. I wish I could have shown you that, even though you look up to me, I’m still a mess. Being a mess is okay. I would have done anything to fix whatever mess you thought was too hard to clean up. I love you.

For my older brother

Dear S,
There is not a day that goes by where you are not on my mind in one way or another. This May will be two years since your death. I wish I could say that your death has somehow made me a better or stronger person but thats just not the case. I am still broken, I am still coping, still trying to find new meaning in life after whatever my previous life was got shattered to bits.
How is it possible to live your entire life with someone and then in an instant have them ripped from you entirely? You were always someone I looked up to growing up and even into my adult years. You were the smarter, funnier, weirder older brother and I wish I could look you in the eyes now and tell you just how much you fucking mean to me.
The note you left you mentioned how you saw me as the bigger more mature sibling, how you looked up to me in a lot of ways, how you were tired of fighting, to take care of mom. I’m doing my best but some days it just really weighs down on me.
You were supposed to be there through all the milestones in my life. You were supposed to be there cracking jokes and playing guitar through all the hard times. You were supposed to be there.
I’m still here and I’m still fighting but sometimes I wish that I would wake up from this bad dream and see you and hug you and tell you just how much i’ve missed you.

My baby brother

My little brother shot himself in the head on February 21.  I found him  covered in blood in my parents room. There was no signs. He was playing uno with us. He asked if I could fix his sweater. He had plans this week with friends. I can’t look at my parents room cause I still see him and all the blood. I can’t sit in silence cause I hear the noise…

My baby brother

He was a kid. 17 years old. And in one second he made the decision to end his whole future. I don’t thing he thought it through. We cant find any evidence he planned it. He shouldn’t have known the combination to the gun safe. Less than 30 minutes before we played uno. A few hours later we cried around a hospital bed where he laid dead.
We all forgot how to drink water, eat, breathe. Exist. A world without him is wrong. Everything about this is wrong. I miss my brother. I want him back. And I wish I could have helped him.

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.