My little brother

It hasn’t hit the 2 year mark just yet since my younger brother killed himself by strangulation in our shed 3 days after his 18th birthday. Some days it’s easier than others. I often wonder how long is someone supposed to grieve? Can it leave sometimes, but then come back? I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve felt immense guilt since then. He and I were like best buds when we were younger. I used to pretend to be his dog and we played with building blocks and all sorts of other fun things. But as we grew older, things got more complicated. He and I are (were?) 5 1/2 to 6 years apart, so when I was a teenager he was still only 7-12 or so. We started fighting a lot more and we slowly stopped hanging out. I was going through my own set of struggles at the time so we grew farther and farther apart.

By the time he was a teenager it was like the only time we interacted was when we had to. We would tear each other down over so many different things that really don’t matter now. There are so many times I yelled back at him that I wish I hadn’t. As he grew into an older teen he fought more with everyone in the house, especially my parents. He would yell until he was hoarse and then go to his room and just sob. I was often in our basement and I could hear him, but our relationship felt so broken at that point that I felt I couldn’t say anything to him that would help, that he would just push me away.

I always nag myself for that, wishing I had just at least tried! This silence between us, besides bickering over dumb things, was all that our relationship was the last few years of his life. I kept telling myself that this was a phase, that as an adult his moods would level out. I knew he wasn’t a bad person, being a teenager just sucked. I thought that’s all this was. The last time I saw him I was curled up in a chair and he had come home from work. I said hi to him and he said “Hey.” I feel even worse remembering that I had only recently started greeting him and saying goodbye to him when he would leave again. I thought he hated me so I tried not to get in his way. When I’ve told some of these things to my other siblings, I often get judgement. I still feel very responsible for him killing himself. I also recall feeling like after I found out he killed himself that it should have been me dead, not him. I often still feel very alone with this, even among my own family. I loved my brother… I was just horrible at showing it.

One thought on “My little brother

  1. Oh my heart breaks for you. I can relate in the sense that my sibling and I had a large age gap- 11 years. We only really started to form a bond when they hit their teen years but drifted apart again shortly after as their depression grew. The last year of their life I went from being the biggest advocate of reaching out no matter how much they pushed back to being completely shut down and afraid to make things worse. For eight months I had been trying to write a perfect letter, but now it’s too late and they’ll never know. The last weeks all I heard in my head was I cant, they dont want me, ill make it worse etc etc. And I too told more than one friend I can’t wait until they are a little older, early twenties are hard for anyone to actually hit adulthood and figure out who they really are and not have the structure of school or parents. Now I feel dismissive and invalidating even though I know it was more likely helplessness…

    Mental health is complicated. And we tend to push away those closest to us. I think the sibling relationship adds another layer of complication somehow too. Sending love to you.

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