This week marked six months since my brother died. The actual day just happened to be the same day as the monthly Survivors of Suicide meeting. I've only missed one meeting in that six months and find the sessions very helpful, even more so than the cancer survivor meetings which I stopped attending long, long ago.
There were five attendees who were dealing with the loss of siblings, which is rare. Most of the losses are parents, children or spouses. Siblings seem to be the forgotten mourners. The facilitator said something during the first session I attended that has stuck with me. Siblings are the longest relationship you will ever have in your life. Longer than your parents, spouses or children. They have known you since birth and you are in each other's lives (one way or another) until death. Yet even with that significance, siblings don't get the same amount of attention when there is a loss. People are quick to check on the parents or spouses of a suicide victim but never realize that the brother or sister might need the same support.
So it was good to talk about losing my brother with others who have lost theirs. A few things that we all had in common? A tremendous amount of guilt. We were their brothers/sisters, why couldn't we save them? And every one of us in the room felt things ended on bad terms. There were harsh words, angry hang-ups, mean emails or long term silence. Normal sibling bickering that ended in the most cruel way. There is no making-up or saying 'Dude, I'm sorry.' Just stupid, angry words that will hang in your thoughts forever.
Another thing that we all experienced was the internal struggle within in the family, especially with remaining siblings. Some no longer speak, and others are so pissed at the way their surviving brothers/sisters have acted since the loss that all they do is fight. Families are torn apart and are never the same. Isn't that the last thing you need at such a crappy time in your life?
I'm so thankful for finding this group. It helps to talk, yell and cry with people who know exactly how you are feeling and hear from those who are farther down the recovery road. To hear that altho it will never be alright, it will be better. It's wonderful to have the freedom to say things that you could never say to your family and friends and not be thought of as bitter or crazy.
Anyway, here are a few especially hard moments:
Saying their name, or meeting someone with the same name
Saying 'my 2 brothers' instead of 'my 3 brothers'
That first family picture without the missing loved one
That point when you can tell that family/friends/co-workers, etc. really don't want to hear about it anymore
I miss you Keith.