Over 25 years ago my brother committed suicude.
He had tried before and was ‘saved’ although I knew he didn’t really want to be.
He had always found life difficult . He felt he didn’t fit in. He was, if you like, what we call a ‘free spirit’. Didn’t like to be tied down by life. He was a lively kid but when he hit his teens he became more wild, would run away. My parents were kind loving people who did absolutely everything within their power to help him, support him
We were bought up the same way, but he was sent to Private School , I was not. Money I guess. But he loathed the atmosphere of it, the enclosed feeling he would tell me.
When he was old enough he got a motorbike, a good old Triumph Tigercub which he adapted to a magnificent noisy beast. He was in his element on that. Would go off for hours , which gradually became days, then months, then years.
We never knew where he was. Then he would turn up out of the blue starving scared and in a terrible mental state. We loved him dearly took him home and tried to help. But after a while he got ‘fidgety’ and would disappear. My parents were heartbroken. They were as I say kind loving people who bent over backwards to help their kids. Sometimes to my shame I felt left out as so much time was spent rescuing him. Sorting out the mess he often made on his ‘disappearing’ trips.
He did talk to me though. I listened . From the age of 8 or 9 he would tell me of his fear of getting old. It was more phobia than fear I know now. He would say to me ‘ I plan to die by 30’. He began to self harm.
My parents and I tried everything to help.
He grew into a man, married had kids ,and ,hideously true to his word, died at 30 by his own hand. Yes that’s an old fashioned phrase but the pain of someone you love with all your heart doing this, makes it hard often to find words that can be said or written.
It goes without saying my parents were destroyed by this as was his wife and family. The situation had become complicated but this blog is not about that.
Today is his birthday. He would be in his fifties now. His kids are in their thirties.
The point I guess I’m trying to make is that when you are a sibling in this situation ,you do a lot of supporting. You have to. Your loyalties when in a family can be complicated, I was very young with a small child. I tried my best. I watched my mother unable to move or speak for weeks, my father wandering, wandering in circles in the garden incoherent. I tried to comfort them. But nothing could.
As a parent myself I cannot imagine the indescribable grief of losing a child. But I can try to put myself there as I know what parent love feels like. You would hurl yourself under a bus if it meant rescuing your child.
As a sibling it is tough. I’m not being whiny . It’s true. It’s tough. Everyone tells you to look after everyone else. You put on the ‘good child nothing will happen to me ‘ face to restore hope. You try to mend fences that are damaged beyond repair. You completely empathasise with your parents, your brothers family but inside you are splintering into a million pieces.
The ripples of a suicide never ever stop. They say time heals. It doesn’t. You just learn to cope as best you can. No one says ‘how are you?’ ‘Are you coping /ok’ . They say oh god your poor parents, brothers family.
Of course this goes without saying.
But going from being a sibling to an only child is a bloody hard shift. My brother and I were very close as kids. There are a lot of memories….happy as well as sad.
When it’s a suicide though it’s still a taboo to some. People don’t know what to say, so they say nothing.
So you just soldier on as best you can. But he died 5 minutes drive away in his car from me, and I have to go down that road every day. I call it ‘The Valley of Death’ that road.
My father got ill with Ahlzeimers. I’m convinced the shock triggered it as he was in his 60’s. He’s gone now. My mother is not well and frightened and doesn’t remember things . It’s getting worse. Every day. I feel her slipping away.
I’m the only one left who remembers him as a kid. Free…mostly happy.
Sometimes I’m ashamed to say I get angry with him . I need his back up. But realistically know it probably wouldn’t have happened if he was alive today.
I’m in very poor physical health so it makes helping mum hard. Selfish? Maybe.
But I had a brother . He existed. I have stories to tell. No one seems to want to hear. So it feels like he never existed some days.
That’s all. I will never forget him until the day I die in my ‘sibling’ way.
Remember siblings needs support too.
Thank you if you read this and if you are in a similar position I hope this helps you .