This is a tough one.
The night we found my brother, all sorts of revelations came about. His messy financial situation became a little more clear, the relationship with his girlfriend was falling apart. And something probably the most disturbing that really plagues me to this day: he had gone to the local gas station and bought a few groceries that night – my favorite actually: nacho cheese Doritos and cheese dip. He had a fresh pack of cigarettes on his counter. He had laundry in the washer and dryer. Yes, all of this the same day he took his life.
So, it has become clear to me that his intentions that evening were not to leave us. Life was definitely hard for him. That much we knew.
However, in between the loads of laundry, he got drunk and he got high on meth. That knowledge came to me in the form of a death certificate. I received a phone call from my mother in tears and I knew she had the death certificate in hand that we had been waiting for. Although it was a strong theory that Mike had been using that night, we didn’t know for sure. In that moment, we knew.
Before Michael passed, I had no idea that he was using drugs – it wasn’t a thought process. I did know he liked to drink, but I didn’t realize it was a problem. And, maybe it wasn’t a problem. Maybe he didn’t drink daily and maybe he didn’t rely on alcohol to make it through his day. To be honest, I don’t really know the answer. I can speculate, but I will never really know the truth. Michael has that truth.
Its easy to pass blame when we don’t know the facts. If only someone had been nicer to him or done this for him. Or if his house wasn’t in foreclosure. Or if his relationship was in a good place maybe then this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe. Maybe not. We will never know.
To be honest, in the last few years of his life, Mike was different. It almost took effort to be around him. He was short tempered, tired, and aloof. I wish I had been more aware of what all of this meant and reached out, but I didn’t know then what I know now. I don’t blame myself and I certainly don’t blame anyone else.
I’ve come to accept the fact that I have glued together the last days, weeks, and months of my brother’s life and that not all of it may be accurate. But, for me, it brings me peace to know I have some knowledge of where Mike was at emotionally at the time of his death, even if some of it is hearsay or gossip. I have chosen to take some of it and make it my truth.
This brings me peace. A precious life is gone and it can’t be undone. That’s the crap of it all – it can’t be undone. Blaming and guilt will not allow you to move forward.
This is your new normal. Make a choice to find peace. It might not come immediately and that’s okay. Give yourself time. Grant yourself some patience.
I’ll blog in greater detail about what you can do to find your peace, but here are a few ideas:
Find a local suicide survivors support group
Volunteer your time
Seek therapy – this was a life changer for me!
Talk openly about your loved one when you are ready
Find resources such as books, blogs, or websites
Remember, be kind to yourself. Take your time.