On the Fifth Anniversary of My Brother's Suicide

I'm waiting for it to get easier.

Five years after my brother's suicide at the age of 41, it still hurts. Five long years in which so much has happened and changed in all of our lives--and yet there is still sadness and loss when I think of the finality of his life.

Have I reached the "acceptance and hope" stage of grief?

I accept that he made the choice to end his life. I am full of hope for the ability of his soul to make progress in the next world. I am glad he has the chance to start over. But there is no "getting over" this. There is no pretending that it is not still painful.

Every single day I think about certain things surrounding his death and the aftermath of it.

Years later, some of it is slightly humorous. After my dad called and told me the news, I headed to the airport. I was such a wreck at LAX that I got the extra special security screening. As I was being questioned about the last minute ticket purchase to Chicago's O'Hare, and my extraordinarily red eyes and disheveled appearance--I think they thought I was on drugs, or perhaps transporting drugs--I broke down sobbing and blurted out that I'd just found out my brother had committed suicide and I was going home for his funeral.

These days, the memory of the look of apologetic horror on the face of the security officer sometimes gives me a bit of a chuckle. It was my first inclination of just how uncomfortable people get when the topic of suicide comes up.

That's where the laughter ends. The memory that comes to me most often is from when I went with my parents and my brother's daughter to see his body. I wrote this five years ago.
We stood to the side of the stretcher and Mr. O'Neal, the funeral director pulled the sheet down to uncover the face and neck. I haven't seen my brother since 1996 and there was such a sense of time stopping. I was, in that moment, unaware of anyone else in the room. I found myself focusing on his hair...shorter than I'd ever seen it, slightly graying around the temples. His closed eyes were beginning to sink into their sockets. I could see the back of his head, misshapen now, and all of the huge threads where it had been sewn shut again. I will never forget that. No book I read, no song I listen to, no story I ever write will take away the image of those huge threads.

It is not easy to think about that every day. But I do.

I'll see a story on who the rapper Trina is dating, and it will make me remember that my brother loved her...and then I think of that memory.

Every time I eat pancakes, I remember the pancake eating contests I used to have with him when we were little...and then I think of that memory.

Acceptance? Yes. But I readily admit that I am crying as I write this.

I pray to God to aid and protect my brother. I truly hope he is finally at peace.


Lisa Johnson said…
I'm so sorry Liz. So sorry...
Anonymous said…
You've beem on my mind a lot the last couple of days, and especially today. I pray for you, and for his soul's progress. Big hugs, and much admiration for you, a soul who tells her truth with such grace and wisdom. Love, G
Jameil said…
Every year on this day, I give you an e-hug. Here's this year's. *hug*
Unknown said…
Many years apart, my father and my husband both lost their brothers to suicide. I can only express sympathy as someone who has loved people who went through that pain. I can, in no way, put myself in your, or their, shoes. But your post was beautifully written and your grief so poignant. I wish you peace and send you thanks for sharing.
April said…
And every year, I have no other words for you other than, I'm so sorry for your loss.
The Activist said…
I am so sorry for your lose. There is nothing that one can say to keep this from your mind because is now part of your story, your experience. May you be blessed with more serenity to cope with the acceptance of depature.
Ileana99 said…
I am crying as I read every single word as I try and finish your story. I can't imagine how you must feel. I am so sorry for your loss and hope that God can heal you and help you overcome such a loss. He must of been a big part of your life ....this was your older brother you grew up with, got into trouble with, confided in and loved. It must be so hard for you...I pray for you Liz and for your brothers eternal peace. Much love.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you. Some people I know in real life seem to have a hard time understanding why it still makes me sad, but, well, what can I say? It does.

Wish you were here to give me a hug in person. Love you.

I will gladly take this year's e-hug.

Thank you for such kind thoughts. How sad for your father and your husband.

Thank you for saying so.

Stand Tall
Thank you. More serenity is never a bad thing. More is always welcome.

Thank you. Writing about it helps. Otherwise... well, I'm sure you understand.

Yes, older brother. 8 1/2 years older. What will be very strange is how in a few years, I'll be older than he was when he died. Thank you for the prayers. I surely need them. xo's.
Lucrecer said…
such powerful words of seeing your brother with your family. I was deeply moved by this post, Liz. I am sending prayers up for you right now in hopes that comfort and peace come down on you.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you so much for the prayers. I know they make a difference. xo's.
Sweepstaker said…
So sorry Liz. I just found your blog and what you wrote is really sad and it made me cry too. I couldn't imagine my brother leaving us like this, so it must be really painful for you. I hope your brother can make progress in the next world and I wish to hug you right now.

My prayer goes out for your brother, for you and your family. *hugs*
BlackLiterature said…
I've read your blog for a few years now and every time this day comes I find myself tearing up for you. I pray that you find whatever constitutes peace when it comes to your brothers death. While I can't imagine what that must be like for you and your parents, that is a place in my heart that feels deeply for you. I'm so sorry.
Liz Dwyer said…
You are so kind to say prayers for us. Thank you so very much.

So very thoughtful of you. It's still so hard. I don't know if it will ever get easier.
Anonymous said…
los angelista,
thank you so much for your post. I am at a loss for words, but I am so very sorry for your loss. I know your pain as I too have just lost my little brother to suicide on June 1st, this has been the worst pain imaginable. I pray for you, your brother and your family. thank you for sharing.
Liz Dwyer said…
I am so sorry to hear about your little brother. So very sorry because indeed, it is the worst pain there is. I am praying for you and yours, too. Hugs.

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