Intellectual and emotional contradictions

Last week my sister called to tell me that my brother was missing and invited me to help in the search. When she had called, I was in my car on my way home from work and I was minutes away from the parking lot to a hiking trail head where my brother was suspected of being.
I arrived to the location minutes before my sister, and we met up with my missing brother’s neighbor who had found his car. A few minutes later, the police arrived on the scene and told us that my brother’s wife discovered that there was a pistol missing from their gun safe.
I quickly searched my brother’s car hoping to find his pistol. My brother had placed the car registration on the dash, which I found odd. After a quick search, I could not find his gun.
My sister and I quickly went up the trail to begin our search. My brother commonly went hiking alone, and my sister and I knew the type of terrain he preferred. Immediately, we noticed a large patch of trees, and we strongly suspected that if my brother was in fact there, the patch of trees is where he would be.
We began pushing our way into the trees; I went high, and my sister went low. Within minutes of us starting, I saw a hammock in the trees, and instinctively, I knew that was my brother.
I cautiously approached the hammock noticing piles of garbage from people experiencing homelessness. I hoped the hammock belonged to the same people who left the garbage.
There was a man in the hammock. They were barefoot and they were listening to music. They had a hoodie covering their upper body. While deep down I knew the person in the hammock was my brother, I still hoped it wasn’t. I spoke to the person in the hammock telling them I needed to make sure they were not my brother and that I would leave them alone after I checked.
I lifted the hoodie to find my brother holding his pistol in both of his hands. He had shot himself in the mouth.
At the moment, I was extremely calm. I checked for a pulse and closely monitored his stomach for any signs of life. While he was still warm and had color, he was obviously dead.
I called my sister on her cell phone to tell her to not come any closer and that I had found our brother.
I waited with the body until the police arrived on the scene, and I quickly pushed my way back to the parking lot. Along the way, I finally broke down with such a flow of raw emotions that I had never felt before. I started to hyperventilate and I needed to stop a few times to get enough control to continue down the hill.
While I was returning to the parking lot, I met another one of my brothers and fell into his arms and continued to cry. I stayed there for a few minutes, and noticed that my sister in law… my dead brothers wife… had arrived. She saw me crying on the hill and simply sat down in the parking lot. I ran to her, sat next to her, and told her I had found her husband.
It has now been a few days. The pain is still raw and as I write this, I am crying and shaking.
I am trying to think back and figure out if there is anything I could have done to help my brother. He and I had shared a very traumatic moment earlier this year, and he had taken undue responsibility on how it affected me. He regularly called me and dropped into my house to see how I was doing. I don’t think I once asked him in return how he was doing… not once.
Intellectually, I know that there is nothing I could have done to save my brother. His mind was made up well before he had taken his life. Over the last few days, information has come out about the failure of his business and the loss of money some of my other siblings had invested in his company. It wasn’t just one thing which led to his decision, but rather a series of events.
Emotionally, I am finding ways to blame myself for not doing enough to be a brother.
It is hard.
I have a fantastic and supportive wife and I have 7 other living siblings and we are close. I have a supportive base.
I have therapist whom I trust, and I am continuing to work with her.
It’s hard to imagine a time where I will not be sad anymore, but I hope it will come.

2 thoughts on “Intellectual and emotional contradictions

  1. I’m so sorry. My brother also shot himself 5 months ago. We had a complicated relationship and I hadn’t seen him in a year. My family also discovered that he and his gun were missing and we had to search for him.

    It is truly traumatizing and I think about it multiple times a day. I feel sad a lot. But I do feel like I feel a little better as time passes.

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