My baby brother, Doug, shot himself in the head two days ago. I am struggling with every emotion I have read about. What I have not read about is the images that are engraved in my head of him sitting in his car, alone…and the graphic details of his death. I don’t think I will ever be able to close my eyes again and sleep peacefully. Please help me!
3 thoughts on “Will I Ever Sleep Again?”
This may not directly address your sleep question, but this has helped my wife find comfort. She lost her brother a month ago in a similar way and has the same struggles. CVS has a Sleep Aid that’s non-habit forming that works wonders! Sleep is so important during this difficult time. Here’s something to read that I’m sending to my wife as well:
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
The image of my brother’s death is etched in my mind as well. He hanged himself. You never notice how much suicide is present in TV or movies until you experience what we’ve experienced. It’s still triggering 4 years later. I feel like a child covering my eyes when there’s an unexpected glimpse of a hanging body on an otherwise enjoyable show. I will say, it haunted me all the time for what felt like forever, but over time it does stop entering your brain every single day or even every week. I think about my brother daily, but the details of his death don’t come nearly as often. I hope it continues to soften over time for all of us. Anyway, I know for me sometimes it’s slightly comforting to feel like someone relates so I hope that’s what came across for you. I’m so deeply sorry for your loss.