Eleven years ago today my brother committed suicide, he was 32 years old. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, and it was the 8th leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading cause of death for females.
Thanksgiving Day 1999, I received a call about 3:30 in the morning. My mother was on the phone, she could barely breathe she was crying so hard. She then told me my brother was gone and I needed to come home.
I proceeded to pack suitcases for 5 people including funeral clothes in under an hour and got on the road and headed home. I lived in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. It took us just under 7 hours to get home, so at a time when every one was enjoying being together, eating turkey and having fun, we were trying to make sense of losing our sibling in such a tragic and horrible way. I spent the holiday weekend picking out a burial plot, flowers, caskets, songs, clothes, it was the most horrible 4 days I can ever remember. We buried him that Saturday.
Suicide is a very selfish act. Those that kill themselves do not think about those they leave behind.
This is not the first time our family had experienced the horror of suicide. My father also killed himself when I was nine years old. It took me 16 years to understand why he took his own life, and that I was not to blame. Those they leave behind wonder what they could have done differently, what they didn’t do to prevent this, what signs they didn’t see, etc….. It is all very confusing and painful. A death by suicide leaves everyone connected to the deceased feeling guilty, bewildered, shocked, confused, angry, and many other things.
Having experienced this horror twice in my lifetime and especially the day before a holiday, my heart goes out to anyone that has lost a loved one close to a holiday. I know many are celebrating the holidays while missing loved ones no longer here. I went to the cemetery today to tell my brother how much I missed him and wished he was here. The holidays for me will never be the same without my parents and my sibling.
Please enjoy your holidays, but take time to remember those no longer with us. May God bless you all.