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.

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