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  • Writer's pictureJhaye

Updated: May 9, 2019

If you’re reading this, your grief matters.

A couple of weeks ago I met a lady who had lost her brother to suicide about 20 years ago, and she told me that on her brother’s funeral nobody would talk to her. And IF they did, they certainly did not mention any good memories of him. Everybody was so focused on the cause of his death. As we talked, I could tell she was still traumatized by the funeral itself. She said: Years later, when my mom passed away, everybody treated me so nicely. They would tell me stories about my mom and how wonderful of a person she was, and they even offered me help with anything. I remember I was thinking to myself, “this is so easy, why is everybody making such a big deal out of it? Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom and I know this might sound crazy to some, but my mom’s funeral was like “the Disneyland of deaths”, compared to my brother’s.

Her story certainly makes one think.

As a recent survivor of suicide loss, I’ve been given advice from a lot of people. While most comments are made with good intentions, some are more hurtful than helpful. And that’s why it’s so hard to talk about this type of loss. I’m always scared that somebody’s going to say something and it’ll make me feel ten times worse. When I tell people that my brother took his own life the first thing they say is either: “Yeah I know exactly how you feel. When my grandma died…..” etc., etc., or “Death is part of life, and think about your mom and dad. It must be so much harder for them.”

Take out grandma and replace it with mom (or whatever you like), but these are the two most common things that people will say. Most survivors seem to agree on the fact that the pain never goes away, BUT you will get better at “hiding” it. It’s usually the ones who has absolutely NO idea what it’s like to lose someone to suicide that has the most to say about it.

First of all, these comments are not just ignorant, but also a punch in the face! You lost your grandma when she was 90 years old and it was of a natural cause! Also, she was 90 years old!!!!! Yes, I understand that it hurts, and it probably hurts really bad. I’ve lost my grandma too. I’m not trying to diminish your pain in any way, but the fact that your grandma was 90 years old and my brother had just turned 35 makes the comparison a bit laughable. It’s irrelevant to my story and it doesn’t help me at all.

35 years old and had his whole life (at least more than half of it) ahead of him. He left a 7-year old son behind. Suicide is not natural and it will never be. It’s an act of desperation. An act that leaves question marks. Your old mom or grandma’s death is not the same thing. I’m not saying your pain is less than mine, all I’m saying is don't tell me that you know how I feel! Because you don’t. And I don’t know how you feel.

When people tell me that my parents are suffering more than me, I tell them that they probably do and that my heart is in pieces- for them alone. What they don’t know is that I think about my parents 24/7, and I worry about them a lot more than I worry about myself. Just like I worried about my brother before he died... But does it really matter? Does my parent’s suffering make my suffering less valid? Should I apologize for grieving? Am I supposed to be happy and thank the universe that I was “just his sister”? How does one qualify to grieve? And since when did grief become a competition?

Just like me, the lady I mentioned before was confronted with comments about grief and how to deal with the loss of her brother… She said, personally, I think it’s harder for me as a sibling, because suddenly I had to recreate my whole vision of the future. You grow up knowing that your parents won’t be here forever, but nobody prepared me to lose my brother way too early...

I thought it was beautifully narrated and she made a good point, although, I can’t agree and say that it's harder on anyone. I believe that grief is individual and nobody knows how another person is feeling, EVER. While it is true that no one should ever have to lose a brother or a sister that young, a parent should never have to survive a child either.

Eventually, we’re all going to die... but until then, let’s be careful with one another. Think before you speak. <3

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It’s been the worst year of my life and NO, time does not heal everything! I miss you so much, every part of my body aches. It seems like time is standing still and pain never sleeps. I’ve been crying for hours, days, weeks, months... one year to be exact. And I cry not only because I miss you, but also because I can’t stop thinking about your pain!!!... the unbearable pain you must’ve felt that day... that day a year ago, when you just couldn’t take it anymore...

About five years ago, I was visiting you at a rehab center and you asked me why I had to move to LA right now... “Why now?... Now when I’m finally getting my shit together?” Then you laughed... and told me that I HAD to go. You’d always tell me to go after my dreams. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself... I wish that you were here, so you could see all the things that I’ve accomplished... All the things I’ve learned this last year... All the things I wanted to tell you last summer when I was visiting, but never got the chance to... you would’ve been so proud...

I was really looking forward to see you, to hug you... hang out with you, and just talk about everything and nothing...

Life is so unkind... Why didn’t you believe in yourself?, Why couldn’t you believe in yourself as much as you believed in me?.. Maybe I didn’t believe in you as much as I should have? I really thought I did... I am so sorry if I didn’t. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. I never thought it would end like this.

Now I have to figure out how to live my life without you... it’s not easy. Not only do I have to deal with the pain of missing you, but I also have to carry the heavy burden of not knowing if, what, when, where and how I could’ve done something...

But just so you know... I could have carried at least half your burden!... if only you would’ve let me.

Sleep in heavenly peace beautiful angel<3

Forever in my heart ❤️

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Updated: May 9, 2019

Unconsciously we expect things to be a certain way, and that the ones we love will be here forever. For me, forever fell apart.

It’s been 9 months today since my brother took his own life, but it still feels like yesterday. On May 16, he was supposed to turn 36… he only made it to 35. Two years apart- we were born on the same day. This year was the first that I had to celebrate without him, and exactly one year since the last time we talked. Ever since the day he went away, nothing has been the same. When people ask me how I feel, truth be told- I don’t know. There are no words powerful enough to describe how I feel, no words strong enough to heal my pain… and no one like my brother that can ever fill the empty space in my heart. It’s like being in a different time and universe, watching the rest of the world move on like nothing ever happened. It’s so surreal.

Not only did I lose my brother that day, I lost my family… No matter how much I pray that time will heal and that things will get back to normal- the way it used to be, I know it won’t.

I was in Sweden visiting family and friends when I found out that my brother had died by suicide. After years of struggling with drug addiction, he just couldn’t take it anymore. He was in Psychiatric Inpatient Care at a hospital when he decided to end his life. I never got the chance to see him that summer before he died, and it really hurts. I will never know if it would’ve made any difference, but the thought of it breaks my heart- a little more for each day passed. I desperately went through his only two plastic bags of belongings, looking for some sort of note, letter or anything- But there was nothing. I just have to accept that I will never know where his thoughts were in that moment, or the final straw that made him come to the conclusion… What caused the moment to lose all hope? Or maybe it wasn’t just the moment?

So many questions without an answer.

I can only assume. And in the middle of all this, my flight back to LA and school had to be rescheduled. I had to make a decision fast, whether or not I wanted to continue my education in LA or move back to Sweden. I booked another flight that gave us about two more weeks to plan for the funeral and everything that comes with it. The following weeks went by slowly. Mom and I spent hours, even days in front of the TV, but I’m sure none of us would’ve been able to recall the name of any show that we watched that week. The couch became a therapy zone where we dwelled our thoughts and emotions. We spent days organizing all the practical things, so much that I think it served more than just one purpose. Somehow, we had to find ways to survive the emotional shock.

Grief is personal.

You don’t believe that it’s real when you lose someone that close to you, and I think it’s part of the process. The most bizarre part is when you have to choose a casket for the funeral, clothes you wish to see them in before you say your last goodbye, an urn for the remains of your loved one- a poem to describe your whole life together in just a few sentences… at the same time you’re trying to process the loss of your loved one to suicide. There is no right way to grieve, no time-limits for how long we need to process loss, and some people experience more complicated grief than others. I was co-dependent before I could even spell the word, and I lost my brother to drug addiction long before he died. The saddest and the hardest part to accept is that I don’t remember the last time he was happy.

For each day passed, I miss him even more.

When people ask me how I found the strength to get back upon my feet, and start school only a month after my brother died- I tell them that I didn’t. Strength found me. I don’t have any super powers, neither does my mom, my dad or my younger brother… You just live.

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