Grieving

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, July 2019

Dearest Connor,

Formal, I know, but it’s time again. I hope you’re sitting because this is another long one. I miss you.

Occasionally I come across things that make me wonder if your spirit lives on, or if you’re trying to send me a message to let me know you’re okay.

I saw a license plate while driving home in the rain recently whose lettering reminded me of an inside joke we had about that dumb bully in our neighborhood growing up, the one who misspelled “rainbow”.

Or this week, when I found a flying beetle-y bug in my favorite section of my bedroom, and it didn’t fly away when I gestured toward it. I didn’t have the heart to kill it. What if it was you?

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An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, September 2017

Hey Connor,

It’s been a while.

I was perusing the three Facebook groups that were made in the wake of your death earlier tonight. Rumor has it you were electrocuted at age five, and it caused you to have an abnormally high voice. Less creative was the rumor that you died in your bedroom closet of a drug overdose. I forget sometimes how vicious thirteen-year-olds’ imaginations can be.

At peak novelty, the most popular of those groups had over 1,000 members. Now, their membership count is down to sixteen, six, and five. Funny how bandwagons work. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, March 2017

Hey Connor,

Today marks exactly eight-and-a-half years since the day you died, just over a week before your 22nd birthday. I’ve been thinking about you a lot these past couple of weeks. Google says you lived about 75 days shy of 5,000, or about 7.1 million minutes. Each year since you left is a smidge easier than the last, but the loss of you will always ache. I’ve cried for days writing this letter. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, April 2016

Dear Connor,

As I drove home from work this past Monday, I began to reflect on a photograph shown on the news last weekend of a small child hugging his father’s gravestone. I imagined what it would feel like to try to explain to my office manager every September 23rd that I would be unable to come into work because I was visiting your grave… except for the part about how we did not bury you. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, December 2015

Dear Connor,

These letters are always draining to write and often come after nights of ruminating and self-reflection. The days when I forget you’re dead are few and far between, and they leave a bittersweet aftertaste when reality sinks back in. I’m somewhere between happy and content on most days, but the ache of your memory is a residue that’s always present in the back of my emotional psyche, whether I remember to realize it or not.

The other day, I started thinking about the implicit guilt that accompanies grieving and realized that part of the guilt over your death of which I haven’t been able to let go is because of a conversation we had. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, September 2015

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the worst day of my life — the day you made me an only child. I have not forgiven you.

I feel like I’ve coped adequately, but some days are a lot harder than others… not that I’ve ever minded a tearful drive home from work, but still.

It’s odd; I would have thought I’d be more sad on your deathday each year than your birthday, but that got me thinking. Your deathday reminds me only of death, but your birthday reminds me of the life you lived and surrendered. Your birthday feels much more morose because it leaves an ache in me, a longing to celebrate your existence with you, not simply of your memory. (more…)

Emotional Pissing Wars: My Pain Is Bigger Than Your Pain

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I read recently about the celebrity Twitter scornfest regarding Kendall Jenner’s now minorly infamous tweet about wishing “things could be easier sometimes”. Frances Bean Cobain chastised Jenner’s self-involvement during a time when “poverty, draught [sic], disease” and worse continue to plague our world. And yet, I sympathize with Jenner’s plight.

A friend of mine once confessed during a depressive episode that although she feels sad about her personal struggles, she also battles guilt because other people in the world have “bigger problems” than hers. What right does she have to feel bad about family, friendships, her own self-esteem, or her direction in life when there are millions of people living in war zones without sufficient access to clean drinking water? (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, June 2015

Dear Connor,

I had another dream about you last night, this time that I pushed you against the upstairs banister, causing you to fall through the bars, face first down to ground level. You were dead, it was all my fault, and you looked a lot like you did when I found your unconscious, damp body in real life. I woke up shaking and wide-eyed. Needless to say, it was a rough morning.

Mom just vividly described Gran’s gaudy, pink-nightmare of a casket to Aaron and, in doing so, reminded me that she and Dad couldn’t bear to put your ashes in the ground. Your cremated remains are held in a polished, wooden, latched box in your room. (more…)

An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, April 2015

Dear Connor,

The first of April has come and gone, so happy 20th birthday, little brother. When I had originally drafted this piece on February 23, and it had been exactly six years and five months since you died. Google says that’s about 2,344 days — or, as you would prefer, 202,490,275,166,666,688 nanoseconds. Sounds like a long time, right? Some days, it feels like it. Other days, it feels more like just a week has passed.

I’m still mad you’re gone, but over the past few years, my anger and frustration have started to feel more… empty.

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That Time You Wanted to Kill Yourself

As I prepare for a lengthy and fulfilling career as a psychotherapist, one of my greatest fears is how I will help suicidal clients. My thirteen-year-old brother killed himself a week before I turned seventeen, and although his suicide is a topic which regularly invades my mind and which I openly discuss with anyone who asks, I am concerned that in a professional setting, I may not be able to maintain the sufficient emotional composure which my client-therapist relationships will require. Suicide may always be too “close to home” of a topic, despite the time which has passed since Connor’s death. But even as angry, disappointed, and frustrated as I am with Connor for killing himself, his suicide forced me to reconsider my views on the subject. (more…)