Jake, it’s been almost six months since you’ve killed yourself. I turned 22 the other day, and every day that passes since you passed is just another slap in the face. Time keeps moving away from a place where you were once in it.
I finally remember the last time I saw you in person. You were being your normal, misbehaving seventeen year old self. You’re one of the funniest people I know. Why didn’t I tell you that when I still could?
I feel like a bad big sister. I was so self interested throughout junior high and high school and didn’t have time for you. I snapped at you often. I was never patient. We got closer after I went to college, but I can’t stop thinking about all the opportunities I had to make you feel loved and I didn’t. You deserved so much more than me as a big sister.
A month before you passed, you helped me move back home- a two day trip- with our dad. I didn’t know it at the time, but everyone thought I might be suicidal because my anxiety was very, very bad. Mom said you told her you were going to help me move. Your boss came out to the house in the days after your passing and said you told her you had to be there for me too.
I don’t know how I could struggle with mental health my whole life and not realize the extent you were too. Jake, I love you. This isn’t fair. I want you back, and that’s never going to happen. I’m so sorry for not doing more. I love you.

Remembering Brennen S

It was a normal Sunday morning for me. Slight headache from the night before celebrating my cousins wedding. Getting ready to go to work at the call center I worked at. Remember looking at Brennen’s snapchat story from last night. He was living in Oregon/Washington with my mom. Told myself I need to message him about it and tell him it made me LOL. Get to work and start doing my normal Sunday duties. I think it was around 12-12:30pm when I got a call from my older brother, he lived in Sioux Falls. I looked at my phone and thought, “huh, what’s he need”. From the moment he uttered the words “Brennen’s dead, he killed himself” My world turned upside down, got the most gut-wrenching feeling, my heart dropped then started beating fast. He told me to go tell Brennen’s little brother. I said ok love you, hung up and went to tell my boss. I couldn’t feel my legs and wanted to throw up. I broke down telling her, she hugged me and told me to go, now. I left and immediately called my mom. Honestly thinking it was a cruel, cruel “joke”. Mom picked up and was understandably uncontrollably crying. I don’t remember what I told her or what she said. On my way to his brother’s house I called my dad’s sister, my aunt. Then I arrived at his brother’s house, I burst into his place. He was sleeping I told him to get up now, something happened. He was getting ready, I was shaking trying to text my girlfriend. I looked at his brother and uttered the same words my brother just told me 10 mins ago. “Brennen’s dead, he killed himself” His brother and I stared at each other tears in our eyes. He came outside and I hugged him, at the moment his gf Rainy pulled up. I think my brother had called her. As we are standing there my friend of 10 years  just happened to drive by, I flagged her down and told her the news.
After I had left his brother’s I had called my brother and said, “what the **** do we do?” He had been talking to my grandma and aunt, who live in Oregon and had went to get mom. He said gma is buying us plane tickets and we are leaving for Oregon tomorrow morning. I went home started laundry, with so many emotions going on. My mom called me and said, “get here, I need you boys” The next few hours were somewhat of a blur. I had to go to my dads and get a piece of luggage. I remember the look on my dad’s face, my step mom hugged me. I saw my half-sister in the kitchen. She hugged me, then I saw my half little brother. Something in me broke, I had just lost one little brother and seeing him brought back a flood of memories. I left and went home, left town and headed to Sioux Falls. My great uncle said the brothers and I could stay the night. When I got there everyone was around the table, my uncle hugged me. Anyone got a hug count yet? A few hours later we were on the deck of my uncle’s and I looked to the east and saw a bar! I said let’s go have a beer for Brennen, everyone was on board. When we got there, I ordered a Budweiser. Brennen’s favorite beer, not sure why! My step sister meet us there, then my Aunt and another family member. We laughed, cried and drank. We went back to my uncle’s, my brother went to bed. His brother’s turned on the movie TED. I don’t know about anyone else, but I got maybe 2 hours of sleep that night. I had called mom, she couldn’t sleep either. Just talked, cried. I was the first one ready in the morning. My uncle dropped us of at the SF airport that morning. We flew from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis. From Minneapolis to Portland, OR.
I don’t remember what time we got to Portland, but when we walked through the doors, I saw mom. She was standing there crying, anxiously waiting to hug her 3 boys. I remember her nails digging into my neck, the wailing of her cry. My cousins and a cousin’s wife were there. We got in the car and went to gmas. First of all, forget Portland, OR traffic! As if I didn’t want to throw up already, the constant stop, go didn’t help. We got to grandmas, I saw my aunt and gma.
My brother is a funeral director, he had worked at a funeral home in Aloha, OR. They had gone to get Brennen and prepared him. Tuesday was the day. The day that will live with me for the rest of my life. When we arrived at the funeral home, they allowed Mom and us brother’s first go to see Brennen. He looked amazing, at peace and I kid you not. That s*** eating grin Brennen always had. “I love you Brennen” is the first thing I said to him. Don’t know long we were there. Had a nice little vigil, listened to some songs. Then had to say goodbye to Brennen. My little brother, “I love you Brennen” I said to him as the funeral directors took him back to be cremated. Some of you won’t get why we did this, some might. My brother said we were able to go back want to watch the process. I know what your thinking, “NO WAY!” that’s what I thought too. But other brothers said they wanted to do so I did too. As weird as it may sound, it helped a little with closure.
That was the first night I slept well. I had asked mom if we could go to the ocean. So, we all piled into her car. OH mom’s dog had to come too! Was a nice drive, arrived at Seaside Beach. Then drove over to Haystack Rock. That was a beautiful day. We laughed, cried hugged. I went back to South Dakota Thursday, I just needed to get home. Get back to a “normal” routine. But nothing would ever be normal again. My employer was nothing but understanding. As the days, cards and hugs came. I was remined that a lot of people were there for me in my time of need.
Mom had planned on moving back before Brennen passed away. She arrived in town early October 2017. Brennen was cremated and my brother had picked out a beautiful blue urn. We had “Brennen, Fly High, 203” engraved on it. Brother all also got pocket knives with Brennen’s thumb print on it. We had a funeral October 15th at 2pm. Same church us boys were all confirmed in. I didn’t want to go, I never thought I’d be getting ready for my little brother’s funeral. Tons of the twin’s friends came, middle school teachers. Aunts and uncles were there, it was beyond heartwarming. Flowers from friends, more hugs. Mom had a video tribute put together, was amazing. After the funeral we had cake, which made me laugh because Brennen loved his sweets!
Now the question you’re probably all wondering, how did he do it? Well, Brennen hung himself in his closet at his and mom’s apartment. Mom found him, a thing I wish she never had to do.
It’s been 494 days since Brennen completed suicide. If you had a family member complete suicide, I give you a hug. If you are a person of failed suicide, I give you a hug. People are here for you, no matter what side of the street your on. The point of this is to tell you a family members side of suicide.
Thank you for reading.
Brennen, I miss you, I love you.

An Avalanch of Fear

This post is for anyone who, since losing a sibling to suicide, has felt overwhelming fear and anxiety. In me, it manifested as a hyper-vigilance towards my own mental well-being. It gets better with time as long as you do not fight the fear and let it come in and out.
I was 24 when my sister took her life at 27 years old. This was a year and a half ago. Before then I’d lived relatively worry-free. I was a shy kid, and I hated oral presentations, and I wasn’t great at parties, but I took comfort in my silence. I liked being by myself. I would consider myself “normally” anxious for someone who preferred to watch movies, go to art shows or create things at home.
My sister struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder most of her life. She hid it from most of us very well. I was very sheltered, being her brother. My mother and father, and my sister herself, did not want me seeing her in any bad states. That made things a lot worse, in hindsight.
I was numb for over a year, but the anxiety & grief manifested in ways I didn’t notice. I’d become obsessed with my work, obsessed with perfection. I would become irritated over very small things, and I noticed it getting worse. Finally, I had my first panic attack a year out. After that attack the waves of grief began hitting me. I’d go from depressed to terrified, back and forth, for a few weeks. What made it worse, and what I hope someone reading this can see, is since I had been numb for a year I thought I had gotten “over it”. Thus, for a while, I was convinced I’d gone crazy, that I had suddenly developed some disorder that couldn’t be cured.
I sought therapy almost immediately. My fears manifested as overwhelming worry over my mental stability (something I never worried about before). I would ruminate, trying to convince myself I was ok, trying to find “reasons” for why I wouldn’t take my own life like she did. Finding explanations for my existence, for my being okay, and eventually poking holes in those ideas. Sensations of panic would hit me for “no reason” (I’ve since learned there’s always a reason), sounds were very loud, and I rarely had an appetite.
Therapy, and talking about my fears, was my salvation. Externalizing how I felt forced me to structure my emotions, and in order to structure them I had to feel them. Since then I’ve been able to not react to the fear (still hard at times). Grief can manifest very similarly to generalized anxiety. You can get a pit in your stomach for “no reason”, a bout of dizziness, a beating and racing heart, a shortness of breath. During my worst days my mind would wake me up as I slept, out of a fear of the unknown.
I really want to shed light on how suicide-bereaving siblings should never accept diagnoses of “disorder”. Disorder is an ugly word. I can’t think of anything more befitting of sensations of fear and anxiety than losing a part of yourself to such a sudden and scary act. The only way to get through those moments is just that, to go through them. Adding fear to the fear, by being scared of the arising negative emotions, even if they aren’t even tied to the sibling you lost, compounds things.
Be strong and accept the negative emotions. Know when to reach out. Fear and anxiety aren’t scary monsters. They are our brains’ ways of telling us something is wrong. And indeed, when we lose someone so close to us to suicide, something is wrong. But it doesn’t always have to be wrong. Sit with things being wrong, eventually wrong will not “feel” wrong and become another dimension of your human experience. Your emotions, negative or positive, are there to guide you. By respecting your emotions there’s a possibility of building trust within yourself. And in the end, nobody can go into your mind but you, so it’s kinda great to trust yourself.

To my Brother Bear

Dearest Brother Bear,

Today is the 9th month of our separation on earth. This has been the hardest year of my life and I have lost our Mom, struggled six years of constant hospitalizations with my illness, and nothing compares to this pain.
I remember holding your tiny hand in the hospital. You held on to my hand for dear life. You were under 2 pounds at birth yet had the strength of a man. You let go of my hand forever on January 2nd, 2019. I wish my hand were there to pull you to safety or catch you as you lept from your high rise. My hands were absent. I had only texted you 42 minutes before and you were in my house less than 24 hours before. The disbelief is disabling.

I was your confidant, protector and friend. I never judged your long battle with paranoia schizophrenia. You worked so hard to stay balanced and move forward in life. Looking through your phone, I see you used every app, book, and mantra to help stay afloat. You excelled. You had a good job, tons of friends, filled passport and padded accounts but…. no peace. It was a facade. I only found this out because of the clue you left me, your notebook and passwords. You tried to tell me but could not. The disease silenced you forever but you thought around it. I followed your clues and saw what was attacking your mind. It was not pretty. I was so sad. I wish I could have quieted the voices, demons, and chaos in your brain. I wish you were still with me.

I must live on but I will never stop making sure your life is not in vain. I have done so much already: gave money to your best friend to help him continue his education, joined the fight with AFSP to change laws for the mentally ill and for suicide prevention, donated to sites to help those in pain, and tied up all loose ends with your friends, girlfriend, and our Dad. I am so glad I can work for you and honor you. I miss your presence but glad you and I still hang out. We talk more now than ever. You live forever in my life. My toddler, your niece, saves things for you, draws you pictures and we watch your videos, especially ones of both of you. We miss you everyday. I drive your car because it smells like you and has your things. I have not moved much. I have your phone as a document of your life.
But, my memory of you: your scent, the furrows in your brow, your surgery scars, mole on your foot, turtle toenails, perfect smile, deep thinking eyes so tired of battling, and those long, muscled legs, quirky noises you made, and flat thumbs from thumb sucking.

Your students miss their coach, your friends cannot close that chasm, your girlfriend’s heart is broken, your father’s heart is bruised and you took the other half of my heart that losing our Mom took.
I love you always and I know you will always love me.
Rachel and Nathan forever.
Sister Bear

Something I’ll never forget

I was house sitting five days prior to my brother’s death. My mom and i don’t get along, so i stayed at my aunts house to get away. The day he was supposed to come over and swim was the day i woke up to 49 missed calls from my mom. I can’t even remember the last thing I said to him. If I had been home, I would have noticed something was wrong. I could have stopped him, but I wasn’t.

Losing my Brother and Best Friend

Even though it has been several years since I lost my brother to a self inflicted gunshot, it still feels like yesterday. We were extremely close. After my father passed, he took the role of father figure but he was also my mentor, and best friend. He was a jokester and liked to play pranks on me. I could talk to him about anything. He moved to Florida and soon after I joined him and I moved there with my best girlfriend. He had a business where he did auto body and I ended up taking a job there with him. I noticed that he was changing a bit. I found out he had started using drugs and drinking heavily. He was so good at his job and several large car dealerships used his services. Even though he was extremely busy, he seemed to never have money or able to pay his bills. One day we were hanging out and he didn’t work that day. He was drinking a lot. He told me that he had a gun to sell but he had it hidden at my mother’s house in a safe. He asked me to go get it for him and he waited in the car. I went in, got the gun and all the ammunition for him. He said he wanted to go to the pawn shop to sell it but needed to stop at his house first. One of his friends was driving, he was in the passenger seat, and I was in the backseat. He turned around and looked at me with a sadness I have never seen, a tear was rolling down his cheek. He turned back around and I said nothing. I didn’t know what to say and had no idea that this day was going to be the last time I ever got to talk to him or try to comfort him. We went to his house, his friend was going to the store and coming back. My brother walked into his house and 5 minutes later came back out. I had my back to him when he came out but heard the screen door slam behind him and then I turned around. In that moment I turned toward him, I saw the gun go up to his temple and he pulled the trigger. I just started screaming for help. I went to him trying to give him CPR and saw the tears rolling down his face. I was just screaming for help when 6 cruisers pulled up with guns drawn on me. They pushed me down into the grown and handcuffed me and told me not to move. I was paralyzed at that moment from the fear and shock and lifted my head to scream again but nothing came out. I watched my brother take his last breaths alone – they wouldn’t let me go to him. The next time I saw him was on a gurney in the hospital with a plastic tube in his mouth. I broke down and all I remember is the hospital staff yelling at me to be quiet because of the other patients could hear me.

My Sweet Brother

I lost my little brother to suicide on August 7th of this year. He lost his long battle with mental illness and depression. He was 29. We were best friends, we had twin souls and he was the absolute light of my life. I loved him more than I could ever put into words. I see a lot of siblings on here writing about grief, “what-if’s”, all the things they think they could have done. This breaks my heart. Everyone, please don’t take offense to this but please know that it had nothing to do with you. It was a choice that was made by your brother or sister and there’s nothing, not one thing, you could have done to prevent God from taking one of his angels. Sadly it was the plan. We will all be okay though. Keep remembering the positive things about them, don’t harp on the negatives. We are all survivors. Now let’s all stand up and go do what they would want us to do, be happy!

Tomorrow we Bury You

My Dearest Kate,
On April 20th, 2018, we lost you forever. Though things have gotten easier, I still think of you every single day, praying that you’re in heaven with God.
We’ve had your ashes at mom and dad’s house since you died, but we found a beautiful cemetery run by catholic monks out in Berryville, VA. It’s simple but picturesque- the type of place you’d have loved. It’s just so serene and peaceful there.
Tomorrow me, mom, dad and our priest are heading there tomorrow afternoon to finally place you in your final resting place. It’ll also be the final resting place for me, mom, dad and Jennifer, so one day you’ll be with your loved ones.
I know tomorrow will be an emotional day, but I’m praying for some type of closure. I know there’ll never be full closure, but at least we’ll know you’re in a beautiful place, hopefully as beautiful as heaven where I pray you are now. I’ll do my best to hold it together, but the finality of it all will finally hit me I’m sure.
Anyway, I love and miss you, and though you probably didn’t feel it when you killed yourself, but you’ve always been loved Kate. I wish I’d told you that more, maybe it would have changed your mind, but maybe not. I still feel guilt for not reaching out more, but what’s done is done.
Anyway, tomorrow is your day Kate. Many tears have been shed for the last 18 or so months, but I’m sure more will be tomorrow.
After tomorrow, I’ll at least be able to come and visit you and talk to you. I’ll always make sure your grave stone is kept clean and tidy, and I’ll visit you as much as possible. You’re always in my heart and mind, and I’ll never, ever forget you as long as I live.
Love always,
Your Brother


My brother reached out and called me the day of his suicide. I ignored his call because I was out with someone and thought only about myself. I was the first person he had called and the closest to him and I did not pick up. I was always by his side when he needed me and I loved him more than it is humanly possible. We were inseparable. Yet he passed away broken hearted and alone thinking he was a burden to me and I did not love him. I replay that day in my head a million times over. I know for certain if I had spoken to him it could have been different. Instead I’m stuck here in the bottom of a black hole. Unable to crawl out of this deep guilt and despair that’s been clinging on to me for years. On the exterior I appear the same as the person I was before this, but inside I feel completely and utterly hollow. Numb at the new reality. How does anyone have the will to live with this type of insurmountable guilt?

I don’t know what to do without you

My older sister, 2 years older than me took her life at the end of 2017. She always appeared confident and proud to everyone, walking with her shoulders back and neck tall in the hallways and charming everyone she met. I’ve always been the quieter sister that stresses over everything and now that she’s gone, I’ve suddenly started to become her. She was reckless and did things on impulse but she always found
a way to make things thrilling like staying up in the dark playing video games or spending a whole day playing lame chess and card games when our parents cut the internet.
I don’t know how to get through highschool without her, I miss all the kick-a** advice she gave me and all the times she toughened me up in our petty little insult battles. I’ve somehow started to become her but it doesn’t feel right, like I’ve been forced to fill the gap that’s left in my parents hearts and in my own heart by becoming her because I need her guidance so badly.
Sometimes I wish she told me because despite us always bickering, it was always us against our parents and now it feels lonely and hopeless for me now that she’s left. I really wish I could have gone with her.. but I know how much damage that would cause and that everyone has the right to live out their life the way they want.