Category Archives: Guest Post

Always with me

According to Mama, I fell in love with you the day you came home, even though I was only thirteen months old. We were together our entire lives; sharing a bedroom for the first eighteen years, sharing an apartment at University. You were my best friend and soul mate, my maid of honour, and my children’s favourite aunt. You know all that. This has been the worst year of my life, all 59 days of it, so far, since learning New Year’s Day that you were missing and couldn’t be found. We drove two hours thinking when we got there, we might actually have a chance of finding you. How you made it to the water is anyone’s guess. I miss you so much. How am I to go forward? I keep praying that you will come back, this has all been a terrible dream. I am told it will get easier, but I cannot believe it. I am broken. You will not be forgotten. I will create something for you, about you, that will last forever. I will love you forever. Tu hermana.

Keep Coming Back

I have come to this site often over the past years.
Three days ago marked 35 years since my brother died by setting himself on fire and surviving 43 days on a burn unit.
If you are here you have probably experienced the worst thing that has ever happened to you. After 35 years that is still true for me.
I have noticed a trend toward people posting and receiving no response. Please know each of us here has experienced something similar and we do care.
I believe the wear and tear of the pandemic have left many, many people feeling like they are spread thin.
Please do not take the lack of response as a lack of caring. Take the time to read through past posts to find support and understanding.
If you are a long timer dropping back in, consider responding with a sentence or two to someone else.
Keep coming back here. It matters. We hear you. We care.

My Brother, My Soulmate

It was 9 years ago that my little brother had his life taken by unbearable depression: January 30, 2013.
We were 1.5 years apart. He had just turned 30 years old and was close to graduating with a Ph.D from Oxford University. We’re from a blue collar family on the south side of Chicago, so we were so proud of him. He could translate Ancient Greek and Latin. I used to tease him that he was going to school at Hogwarts. We were both obsessed with Harry Potter and Star Wars. We were so close that we could finish each other’s sentences and we always knew what the other was feeling, even when we were an ocean apart.
After he died, I was forever changed. I had been his big sister for 30 years. And I felt like he left me behind. I have a wonderful husband and 5 beautiful children but…there’s a huge piece of my heart that is gone, forever.
I’m not scared of death anymore. I know somewhere, my dear one is waiting for me. And his is the first face I’ll see when that day comes that I cross over the veil.
Rest In Peace my dearest Tommy until we meet again.

My Angel on Earth

Two weeks ago today my sister died by suicide. She was 16 years older than me and was often assumed to be my mother both when I was young and as I grew up. Truthfully, she did a lot to raise me. In our family, she was my person. She cared for me, protected me, supported me, encouraged me, and never let me feel alone. I have never felt more alone than I do now without her. I have a hard time imagining my life going on without her here. I am finding myself desperate to see or feel her around me and I haven’t yet. Everyone keeps saying how strong I am but I don’t want to have to be strong.. I just want my sister back with me. I feel guilty that the world is going to keep on turning without her. It doesn’t feel right.

How Do I Do This?

I’ve loved you since the day you were born. We went through so much together. Then, things began to change and you pulled away. I didn’t know or understand the impact drugs would have on your life. The cycle it creates. The self loathing and despair and loneliness. I watched you struggle for 23 years. On again, off again, and I pulled away. I never stopped loving you, and I never refused the late night phones calls. I wanted to come save you so many times, but I knew it would end in fights, pleas, and resentment. I hated that you were on your own. So, it was a blessing to watch you find sobriety and get things in your life together. For the final three years, I got to watch you grow. I got to celebrate life with you, and we became closer than we had been even in childhood. I remember always wanting the “old” you back. Then, I realized that the old you had been so traumatized and beat down that it would have to be a new you, a wiser you, a more mature you. I was just so proud to watch you become this person who persevered, despite the set backs and the hang ups. I was so disappointed for you when the court decided they would hold the charges against you, even though you passed the UAs and you worked the program so diligently. It was only 18 months, and I thought if you could do what you had been doing for 3 years, this wasn’t insurmountable. I should have taken you home with me. I can think of a million things I could have done differently that day. If there was one day in the entirety of my existence so far that I want a do-over, it’s the Friday before you over dosed. It hovers over me like this black cloud, three years later. I justified my decision that day with “if he’s going to use, he’ll find a way, whether he’s with me, his girlfriend, or all alone. He needs to do this. He CAN do this”. I didn’t answer the phone because it said “restricted” and it was 10:26 pm. But, my gut was telling me something wasn’t right. The voicemail alert went off and it was an officer. I called back and he told me you had been found. In your bed. In your clean and sober apartment. I remember thinking I would just come get you, so I jumped up, pjs and nothing else and grabbed my keys and I remember the officer telling me to please calm down. I realized I had screamed. My legs didn’t work. I remember the way Dad stumbled in the driveway when he came after I called.I had to catch him and hold him up. It took me another 10 hours to get a hold of Mom. And the sound she made when I told her it was true- you were gone. I’ll never forget the pain in her cry. I stayed up all that Saturday night, numb, heart broken, simply unable to fathom that my little brother was gone. I had to plan everything- I never got to really grieve for you. I just stuffed it all down and kept telling myself my time to grieve would come. Watching our parents grieve for you is the absolute worst. And, all the while I blame myself. There’s a fine line between protecting and enabling. I’m just so grateful that the day before I got to hug you and tell you that I love you. I still feel the scream at the base of my throat. Right there in that soft space, and I’m terrified that if I let it go, it’ll never stop. We were supposed to grow old together and sit on the front porch with our coffee and laugh about all the stupid stuff we did when we were younger. You have nieces and nephews that miss you terribly. I wish you had known the impact you had on them and how much they love you. It all feels like yesterday, like I’m moving through this slow motion goop, still in the fog of grief. There’s a massive you shaped hole inside of me and the weight of it is sometimes unbearable. You helped create the foundation of who I am. All I’ve ever wanted is one more hug. One more laugh. One more car ride with the music blasting. One would never, ever be enough, of course. I know you’re at peace, you’re whole again, but I miss you, Bro.

I miss my morning phone calls

2/15/2021… I hate that day… the day you took your life!!!!! Our family will never be the same.. our circle is broken!!!
These 11 months have been so hard without seeing you, hearing your voice, laughing with you and I miss your morning phone calls sooo much! Nothing will ever be the same. I’m sorry you were suffering and I’m glad you are at peace. Please watch over your wife, your children and our family. Love you forever, bro…see ya on the other side.

My brother is gone

I lost my brother to suicide November 17, 2021. I hate that day, I was on my way to work, I had just dropped my 7 year-old son at school, and it’s less than 5 minutes to my work from his school. I am thankful he wasn’t in the car when I got the call. I still don’t want to believe he is gone, it kills me. He was 2 years older than me, how do you get through losing your only sibling??
We had a hard childhood and he had a lot of anger and I’m sure, sadness in him. He has a history of drug use and was a drinker. He’s married and has 14 and 16 year-old kids. The isolation of Covid had a play in this I’m sure, and many other things as well. I talked to him 3-4 times per week, he was my person I would call whenever I was alone in the car. We would call each other just to say hi. I talked to him the night he did this. Every day that passes takes me further away from that last conversation and the last time I saw him.
I have a hard time finding time to grieve, I have 3 and 7 year old boys, a husband and a mother-in-law who lives with us. No one seems to want me to cry. I find some solace when I go hiking and can cry in the mountains. I have reached out to hospice but can’t find any suicide survivor groups to go to, which is what I feel I need.
Everything took a while for his body to go from the coroner to the funeral home. I went and visited him there, it had been 2 weeks already since he had hung himself. I keep picturing the moments that led him up to his decision and it kills me. I just want him back so badly. And it makes me hate this cruel world, how can someone suffer so much that they do this??? When I was in the room with him, he just looked like he was sleeping and any minute would say “boo” and scare me, he didn’t look like he had died. I keep going back to that too, and it gives me relief that I was able to see him, but I still somehow can’t accept that this has happened.
I’m a nurse and I took a leave of absence, I’m supposed to return to work next week. I don’t have anything in me to care for my patients, anything I have is spent on myself and my family. I am trying desperately to find a different job that isn’t direct patient-care, but haven’t found anything yet.
I miss my brother so much. I’m not angry at him for doing this, I just wish I could have supported him more or taken his hurt away from him so that he could have grown old with me. I’m so broken

Good Book

I lost my big brother, Mark to suicide in May 2008. Then I lost my big sister, Reba to suicide in Aug 2015.
My grief gets too heavy sometimes, and is usually worse in the winter.
I miss them so much. We were close, especially me and my sister. We were even born on the same day, 6 years apart. My birthday is tough because we always celebrated together.
Thank you for the book and this website. It’s always good to share with others who get it!

I wished you reached out

I wish we knew. I wish you’d have said something. I wish we saw the signs. I wish I talked to you more. I wish you lived closer so I could be there to listen. I wish you never grabbed the gun. I wish, I wish, I wish…
Right now marks exactly 5 hours since mom called me to tell me you were gone.
I’ll love you forever, baby brother, and I’ll carry your memory with pride.

Breathe

I have posted this a couple of times on Feb 9th which is the date my brother died. Tomorrow is the anniversary of him setting himself on fire. It will be 35 years. Thank you to each of you who have posted here. Coming here is an act of hope and it contributes to the survival of each of us.
I wrote this 4 years ago and it is still true:
Breathe
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 along 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.