March 28th, 2009 by deliriousgirl

Yesterday was my brother’s birthday.

My brother, who would have been 47 years old, committed suicide by hanging himself from his attic trapdoor in the hallway of his house on December 15th, 2008.  He left no note, no explanation, no message of any kind.  Since his death I’ve had the near-obsession of recreating his life from the scraps that were left.  An email here and there (I was able to hack into his computers), a receipt from Home Depot (for rope, plastic zip ties, and a metal pole) that was dated four weeks prior, bills and business files, phone calls and messages on his cellphone, the potroast that he cooked the night before, it’s remains neatly stored in tupperware in his refrigerator, a DVD movie that was left in his DVD player — these bizarre findings are all clues now to me on this quest.

But, I digress.

On the morning of December 15th, my 74 year old mother got an early phonecall from my brother’s office, from employees at his computer sales/service/tech business.  They said he wasn’t there to open up, which was strange, it had never happened before.  So my mother drove across the small town to his house, knocked and beat on the door for over 30 minutes, and eventually broke a small window on the kitchen door to let herself in.

She started to scream when she saw him, still lightly swinging,  the rope around his neck, a ladder-backed chair that I had given him kicked out from under the lifeless body swaying in the hallway.  My mother was torn between the complete horror of the situation and the strong surge of maternal instinct to relieve him somehow, to hug him, to get him down, to help him, this child she had borne and loved.

She only stopped screaming when she was so hoarse she was barely able to whisper and the police had arrived.

An investigation ensued that lasted a week, my brother was sent to the crime lab in Atlanta, was photographed and prodded by a coroner and a pathologist and who knows how many detectives and others.  The official finding was suicide even though he was clever enough to use zip ties to bind his wrists behind his back. The body was released to us on late Friday night, we were made aware of the laws in his state regarding un-embalmed corpses by the funeral home director, so we had to plan and execute a memorial service and cremation in less than 24 hours.

I wrote the obituary, bought food and drink for a wake, arranged for my brother’s best friend and business partner to give a non-religious eulogy, bought new clothes for the mortuary employees to dress him in, made financial arrangements with the funeral home director, and went to a private, family-only viewing of the body, all in the small space of around 12 hours.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t even think the whole time.  I was strong enough to do this somehow.  To this day, I do not know how.

The private viewing was the most horrific and gut-wrenching one event that I’ve ever had to endure.  My brother was barely recognizable, although the mortuary workers had done a good job in camouflaging his grievous, mortal injuries.  His face was pale and swollen and I could see the deep purpley bruising marks that ran under his shirt collar and on his wrists.  I wish that there was some way that I could erase this sight from my memory but it’s burned deeply into my retinas and my brain. My mother, my brother’s ex-wife and his two sons, and my other brother all broke down pitifully and loudly and understandably several times.

All I could think, the lines that kept running through my mind like a reel-to-reel tape loop was, “How could you do this to these people who so loved you?”  “How will I ever be able to fix this massive pain in my family?” “How could you do this to us?”

We survived the ordeal as a family somehow, and I have now returned to my home some 450 miles away.  My mother will never fully recover and her health is failing as a result, she probably will not live through this year.  And every now and then, at the most absurd and inopportune times, a picture of my brother kicking that chair away or of him in the pitiful cremation casket at that funeral home will flash through my mind like an electrical current burning it’s horror all the way down to the pit of my belly and I have to suddenly sit or bend over gasping at the pain that courses through the very core of my being.

If you’re ever considering suicide, PLEASE, reach out to someone and PLEASE, do not put the people who love you through this never-ending agony.

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12 Responses to “A DECONSTRUCTED LIFE”

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  1. I am sorry for your loss. As someone who has been in deep emotional pain for more than 30 years, I just beg of you not to be angry with your brother. He is finally out of pain and that is a wonderful thing. I would hope that if I ever have the strength to go through with it, those left behind will realize that this had to be done. It’s like putting down a horse with a broken leg, except that I have a broken heart and spirit and soul.

  2. I left a message and now it’s gone…

  3. I too have those pictures burned permanently into my memory. My brother killed himself 2 years ago and i cant shake so many moments from that week. The worst one being the last time i ever saw him. Exitting the room that the wake was held and seeing his head slowly drift out of sight. I can see why youd be mad at your brother but im not at mine. Im happy knowing that hes no longer suffering and i hope you find at least a little solace in that yours is not either. I feel sorry you werent as lucky though in the sense that we were lucky enough to get a letter assuring us that he loved us. And although ive witnessed the devastating effect it would have on my parents, that alone wont keep me from doing it that much longer.

  4. I think that it’s a very selfish act, nothing personal to you. But death is ugly. It’s shitty. There is NO glory, nothing good, it just signals to your survivors that you didn’t have the courage, fortitude, foresight or character to keep on keeping on. Things could always improve in the future???

    It’s a choice. Just like not just living the crappy life you’ve been given BUT creating the life that you want is a choice. And it’s a choice that will also bring destruction to others whom you’ve touched, whom you know, and whom may love you.

    It’s an active choice. I’ve been there and I chose to work to create a life that I only dreamed of 20 or even 15 years ago. I love my life now, I run headlong, fullforce through it, small the flowers and yes, succumb to depressions sometimes. But I’m so glad that I chose to keep on putting one foot in front of the other every day.

    I hope that you’ll just think of my words.

  5. deliriousgirl, you say you’ve experienced this. I don’t know if I believe that, because if you HAVE, you would know that it’s about STRENGTH, not courage, fortitude, blah blah. Sometimes you are beaten down so far that it’s impossible to get back up. You were able to get your life together and that’s great, but everyone is different and you shouldn’t judge.

  6. Well i dont have the courage, fortitude, foresight or character to keep moving on and i admit that. And its not like you can choose “well hey my life sucks, lets change it”. If it was that simple dont you think i wouldve done that by now. And maybe it is selfish, but so is making me stay here and keep suffering so that they dont have to feel sad.

  7. Yeah, it takes work to make something out of nothing, I agree. But ultimately YOU are worth it and it’s not impossible.

    You must be pretty young, and you really should give things a chance to turn around before making any drastic decisions. Change is the only one constant that we can ever count on, actually.

    Believe me, THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

  8. Your age is irrelevant, you just need to be old enough to know yourself. I KNOW i dont have the drive or the ambition to change who i am or make something of myself and im not too excited to spend the next 50 years proving that to everyone.

  9. Age is so relevant. Immaturity and angst are both age related. And ALL teenagers think that they KNOW themselves, hell, they think that they KNOW everything. Believe me, when I stand rooted in the NOW and look back at my youth, it’s alarming and amazing how ridiculously stupid I was.

    Some very good traits come with the wisdom of age. I no longer care what other people think of me. I’m confident in myself. I feel good in my own skin.

    Please just do me a favor and sit down and make a list of all the things you’d like to change right now in your life. Write down all the things that you absolutely HATE about your life.

  10. What if you are no longer a teenager, but a 41 year old woman, smart,goodlooking, spiritual..and so on but still, after reading lots of books, really working hard at changing yourself, therapy included and yet…after all these years you find yourself just not of this world. Alone,no future, no partner..and indeed trying so hard not to be selfish and end it all cause you don’t want to hurt people left behind. So do I just have to live on, lonely,sad, angry ,hopeless and in pain every single day,in order not to hurt the people left behind ?? I don’t know anymore..I just know that their lives will continue and eventually they will forget about me..cause in the end I was not that special to begin with and won’t be missed that much. So, it is not just a teenage thing, i do know myself and I have tried for many years to fight this, but I am just not of this world and tired of having fight for hapiness as where for other people it just comes easy… no ..really I am done !

  11. thankyou for putting this story from your life on here. it was helpful to me.

  12. deliriousgirl, how can you say things like this to greving prople. i lost my father at the age of 9. i stiil remeber the last night i saw him. you need to reber that pain is part of life as is deth. deth is a beautiful thig bucars it releves ones sole from the sters of life. some times its the only way.

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