Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Seven

Sometimes I wonder what I should share, and what I should not share. There are childhood stories and adventures that I experienced that probably can be said in just a few sentences, and so I keep quiet on them because to me they are so much more. A couple sentences when spoken are a lifetime to me, and sadly all I have left. I tell myself that for now, those are for me, they are my memories and I’m not ready to put them out there yet.

There is one thing though that I was finally able to share with someone, my younger brother. Throughout this whole year I’ve had an anger towards him, I admit that. I guess I just kept hoping that all this would bring us together, make us closer, and it’s been disappointing to see it really hasn’t. My younger brother lives with me, and yet neither of us have offered support to the other this whole time. That’s sad, isn’t it? I’ve expressed to my mother that I felt it was.

It was the end of July, 11 months roughly since my older brother took his life, and just shy of five months since our mad-dash to try and save my dad from the same fate, before my younger brother and I finally talked. Seems like a long time for two siblings living in the same household to finally talk about all this, but guess we just each needed to process it ourselves.

I’m not sure I recall what exactly prompted the discussion, probably something to do with the courts or some sort of paperwork we are still dealing with, but I’m glad it happened. I’m glad we were given the privacy to let it be discussed. What I do know is I expressed a deep regret I hold within myself that with my older brother, Lassen, the loss of him is so painful that a year later I still have tears streak down my face. I feel such a deep regret for what happened with him that this blog, writing this, still is very difficult for me. However, with my dad the feelings are different.

My younger brother made me feel better about how I view each of their suicides, letting me know he felt the same. With our dad the loss hasn’t become so hurtful, and the tears don’t flow as they do with Lassen. I still try and figure out why, after all I love my dad. He was, is, my world. I have so many memories of my dad, I did everything I could for him. I spent more holidays with my dad than anyone else in my family, I took more time off in the summer to be with him, and I helped out on his property without him ever asking because I wanted to. I grew up with my dad, a choice I made when given in the 7th grade, and was a daddy’s girl. So if that’s the case, why isn’t there that heavy-hearted feeling like there is with my older brother?

Well, as I said, my younger brother expressed the same differences in emotions and this is the best thing we can conclude. Lassen took his life in a spur-of-the-moment domestic dispute. He had a stressful week, and was having his wife leave him. It was a vulnerability along with an argument that lead him to just do it. Quick. No thinking. No talking about it. Just done. I guess with him I feel he was driven to it by a cheating spouse and the lack of family for support being near him (as he was in the Navy and stationed across the country).

With our dad, well, mental illness runs deep in our family. Our dad was on and off different medications for the past twenty years, and he had stress triggers. As far back as my mother has known my dad he talked about suicide, and my dad was morbid in telling us kids about his own death and depressing thoughts about how he would never enjoy his retirement. We tried being supportive, though sometimes it’s hard to tell someone’s true feelings verses them joking. But also, with my dad, I feel his suicide was selfish. And excuse me if that offends. But my dad really thought his through. It was no quick of the moment one, it was planned. He died in a slow, painless, well thought out, way. He made it difficult to find him, and he knew what he was doing. He felt abandoned, and with it being six months after my older brother’s death, he stepped away from us and decided to be alone. Unlike my brother who just didn’t have anyone for support, my dad decided to push away his.

The day my dad took his life my younger brother called him, they talked just two hours before my dad drove off into the woods to hide and follow through with his plans. My brother never knew that while they talked my dad was heading home, already with his mind made up. Along with that bit of hurtfulness, he called my step-mother to tell her goodbye, but none of us kids.

So why the difference in how we feel? I’m not exactly sure, but I know I feel a lot more hurt over my dad’s suicide. Hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and a failure.

<<Entry Six

Hey Brother

I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to an afterlife. Where the spirit goes, if one even exists, but I completely understand the desire in hoping for something more than no longer having your family with you. I can’t say I ever understood the heart-wrenching hope that this isn’t the end, that you get to see those you love again. However, the last year has covered me in regret, guilt, hopes and wishes. Not sure if I want something more after life, but I do know I wonder a lot more than I ever have in the past.

To mark my brother’s passing, I take to his Facebook page sometimes and write him letters. Not sure why, if it’s for me or in the hopes that somehow he’ll hear it, but I am posting the latest one here. I posted the one I wrote shortly after he died with a music video at the time that for me really hit home and still brings me to tears. You’re welcome to read it if you haven’t already.

Letter to Lassen:

A year ago today, was like any other for me, and probably for our whole family. I don’t remember all that I did, but I know when everything turned around. I was in the middle of taking a nap before working the night shift. My younger brother was in Vietnam, on vacation. And some how you, the brother and son we all looked up to, ended your life.

I can’t presume to know what lead up to what happened, or how things may be different over the past year if you were still around. But I do know you were such an important person to me, to all of us, that a day doesn’t go by without you in our hearts and on our minds.

I missed you before everything ended, because I missed going camping with you, seeing you at Christmas, having you eat my pumpkin pies even when I forgot to add sugar. And now those opportunities will never come again. I miss talking to you about gift ideas for the parents, or hearing your exploits as a kid. I’m still not sure who had the most fun and crazy childhood, you or Bryce, and now it’s just too difficult to compare.

A year ago all the ifs, ands, buts, should have, would have, and could haves went through my mind. I was upset then at your sudden loss in my life, and I still am. Today, those same thoughts of what I could have done to be there for you skip across my mind, wishing I could change how it all is. Sometimes thinking it’s only a nightmare and never happened.

I love you, I always have, and just wanted to share some words to mark the time.


Some Replies to the Post:

Jennifer Hooper:  Never forget all of us riding our bikes on the street when we where little .

Chad Elms: Some of those same thoughts crossed my mind. Sorry for the loss of such a unique and talented father, son, brother, and friend.

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Six

This was written on paper while at my new volunteer position for the local LGBT Center. I’ve been a bit withdrawn and haven’t done much, online, gaming, chatting, or my blogs and apologize for that.

A lot has happened in the last month that has dramatically changed my life. Seems my life has been full of changes, but at least this one has a better ending or new beginning than the previous. The second week of July I was informed my position at work would no longer be available starting in August. At first I was fulled with bitterness and anger. Here I was, with a company I have given seven years, and I felt abandoned. My manager wasn’t tossing me, no, I was offered a transfer, but it still felt like all the praise I was given was false, and I wasn’t appreciated.

Here I was in life, at another fork in the road before me, and I took this as a sign that I needed something for myself, a change.

When my older brother took his life September, other than the first and one outreach of support from two friends, I was completely alone. No one called. No one asked how I was. No one stopped by. No one even sent a text or email. Not trying to be conceded or attention seeking, but that hurt.

I had no one, my younger brother wouldn’t even talk to me and he was down the hall. I know he needed to cope in his own way, and I myself didn’t reach out to him. But it was reflecting on all this, on my lack of a social circle, a community, a support system. I decided with this new development at work that I was going to build on me.

And so I quit.


I figured this was something my dad’s life insurance money was meant for. To better my life. He felt so alone at the end, as did my brother, and I guess I felt “damn if I was going to feel the same.” I still feel the same, the tears, and pain aren’t quick to go away, but I’m working on it.

Before I even quit I signed up for and attended a volunteer orientation for the local county’s LGBT Center. I have since been putting in time with my community, meeting some great and friendly people, having fun and really feeling appreciated. I have already received a certificate of recognition, and have been invited to several events. I’ve been exposed to things I never had an interest in, such as art gallery openings, a tattoo fundraiser, and general loud music and booze. It’s been fun, and I am grateful to be expanding on my experience in life.

Not sure my dad could relate to the need and desire to have a social circle, especially one with LGBT, but obviously his way of living didn’t work out for him, and it’s been depressing me for years. So here’s hoping for the best, and at the worst it’ll make for an adventure.

<<Entry Five         Entry Seven>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Five

The Fourth of July came and went uneventful for me this year. Well, actually I’m not sure that’s at all accurate. This Fourth of July was very different from any that I have ever had, filled with a bunch more drama that life feels my family deserves, and a lack of normalcy (drama being my sister ended up in the ER).

The past several years I have made it a point to have the Fourth of July off, as I typically work most holidays and weekends, I somehow justify this annual vacation. However, this year, life just seemed to rush forward into July and I didn’t bother thinking about any summer vacation, let alone request any of it off. I feel bad for my mom here, as this is the one holiday I have made a point to spend with her. Sometimes these small changes really bring to light how much really is affected by everything.

As a kid my parents use to take my older brother and I to our grandparent’s house where the daytime was filled with my dad making dry ice explode inside 2 liter bottles, and Lassen and I shooting off these miniature iron cannons. What’s sad about remembering this holiday is just a year ago, when everything was still fine and dandy, I asked about those cannons. These summer holidays and vacations just hold a special spot in my heart and always have. My brother and father’s suicide weren’t a factor in that, as both were around when I mentioned our old tradition.

I loved this time of year as a kid. Living in California, and as kids visiting Baja on annual camping trips, we had the standard illegal fireworks to shoot off and enjoy. Mind you, we never got the ones I see lighting up the sky, or even close to the ones people seem to be playing with now.

Anyway, my older brother and I would ping-pong back and forth on setting up the fireworks at night, while our dad lit them up for us to all enjoy. My grandmother would have a cake made with the American flag designed with fruit, and we’d hear stories about all the trouble my dad got into with fireworks and exploding sinks.

Obviously eventually my younger brother joined the mix of our Fourth of July tradition, and with time, it changed a little as well. One of the last Independence Days I remember celebrating with my older brother was our trip to Lake Havasu. We never were at the lake on a holiday except this one year, and I couldn’t tell you exactly which year it was, but I remember a nearby boat playing Eiffel Tower’s “I’m Blue,” so I’m going to say it was somewhere near that time period of being somewhat current music.

We drove the boat all the way from where we normally camped, which was typical a boat-in site, and made our way to Havasu City to watch their firework’s display. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city sponsored Fourth of July event. The amount of boats packed on the lake to view the show was amazing, so packed we could almost jump from one boat to the next. My dad never was one for crowds, and though everything was fun, different, and eventful, perhaps the sheer amount of people is what kept us from doing it again.

I do believe shortly after our Havasu trip, perhaps a few years at most, my brother was no longer available to participate in our yearly camp-outs. With my younger brother and I being the only ones in several years to join my dad, my older brother’s presence was always missed. A year never went by where we didn’t wish he was able to join. I realize part of that was just him being in the Navy, and part was him having his own family. Still, it’s sad to know the opportunity will never be there again.

Summer always brought camping with my dad. Besides the year after my parents got a divorce, we never missed a summer. I suppose things are different now. I don’t foresee any camping trips in the near future. Not sure this season will ever be an easy one for me, as it’s filled with many stories, events, and memories from both my brother and dad.

<<Entry Four          Entry Six>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Four

The end of April saw my birthday this year, and though it seems I have become dull to the lose of so much family in the past year, a birthday is a heavy reminder of how false that is.

For my family, holidays and birthdays are a time that even though we all live far apart and have busy lives, we take a moment out of our days to make a phone call. My family is small, smaller even now, and so each phone call is precious. This year, I was very much depressed over my birthday. There was no call from my brother. No call from my dad. No call from my grandparents. First year ever where those calls were never placed, a pattern that will follow every year from now on.

My mom has a tendency of passing on the guilt trip, making statements such as “what, guess I’m not enough?” or “I can’t fill in your father’s shoes.” And though I understand her hurt, because instead of being happy at receiving her phone call, I just feel depressed over the loss, I hope some day she realizes it’s not that she isn’t enough, but that no one can fill in the gaping holes left inside me no matter who they are.

My brother’s birthday was suppose to be two weeks after mine. As children we combined many birthday parties together since they were so close. Also, being 80s kids, where we still played outside, a lot of the neighborhood friends were ones we both played with. The couple of times we had sleep overs the girls would bed downstairs, and the boys had a massive tent that slept 20. To me, my brother always had the best ideas on how to have fun, which is probably why I followed him in everything. His group of friends would play capture the flag, and we would beg to join in on it.

This year my brother would be 35-years-old. Tell me that isn’t too young to have already given up on life. Sometimes I feel it’s so easy to just continue pretending he lives across the country from me; since we rarely got to actually see each other, it’s easy to forget he is really gone. But days when he is suppose to call, such as my birthday, the reality sets in and I can’t pretend. He was someone that always called, no matter what. Being in the military made it difficult sometimes but my brother was reliable, never failing to remember those special days.

I’m still confused over how I feel about my dad. I don’t know why his suicide has affected me so much differently than my brothers. I suppose part of it is because I feel extremely hurt. Just before my grandfather passed away at the beginning of April, he told me my dad felt abandoned. Yet, I feel it is he who left me…left all of us. I know it’s selfish, but I guess I figured as a parent he was suppose to be my rock.

Since my father’s death in March I have visited his house three times. Once, when we were still searching for him with a sliver of hope for the best. Second time, to meet with the lawyers my step-mother was hiring, and finally, for my sister’s graduation. Each time I have discovered, the loss I feel for my dad is strongest when I am where he is suppose to be.

I mentioned it before, how my young brother and I wanted to skip Christmas. I think this is the real reason now. We want to skip the holidays, I think, because they are a huge reminder of the holes we now have in life. These holidays and special occasions make it glaringly obvious how much we have recently lost. Our small little family was very supportive, and caring, never forgetting each other and so when we don’t get those phone calls, or cards in the mail…it makes it difficult to continue pretending that there is only geographic distance that keeps them away.

<<<Entry Three      Entry Five>>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Three

When my brother passed away my world seemed to come to a complete stand still. For those six months I couldn’t tell you exactly what went on in my life besides the typical going to work and coming home. I gave up on maintaining the front yard, back yard, pets, and the house. I didn’t cook one single meal the whole time. I suppose I should consider it lucky I managed to wash my clothes.

Christmas was a depressing matter. My younger brother and I discussed it and were very adamant on not continuing the stereotypical family get together and over the top gifts. We considered it a time that was our older brother’s. After all, he was in the Navy, and on the other side of the country. For the past ten plus years if we didn’t see him at Christmas, we wouldn’t have seen him at all. Every single year I fought tooth-and-nail working my schedule around so I was able to have a week with him and my parents. It was our time to be with him, and the holiday was really mainly about that.

But, in typical parent fashion, we were over ruled and convinced that it was something my older brother would have wanted. He loved the holiday, and it was special for him, so we should celebrate it. I tried so hard to make up for his loss, after all he was a brother that just seemed to take after my dad and go all out on gifts. I didn’t want my parents or anyone to feel his loss more than we all already were, so I tried going over the top like him. I don’t know if that succeeded.

Anyway, so Christmas, it came and it went. It was filled with a lot of heartache and regrets, and was quickly replaced with the New Year. However, since I lost the battle against Christmas, I suppose I decided to wage another one over the New Year. My new battle was basically a big screw you to those I dared to call friends in my life.

At this stage after my brother’s death I felt abandoned. My friends were great being there that first week after learning about the suicide, but it seemed radio silence followed that. For six long months, up until my dad’s death I didn’t receive one phone call, one card, one visit. I did receive one text, though roughly four to five months later, but the bitterness already settled, and it was just a message saying hi, so I didn’t follow up with it.

Now I figure I have a small group of friends, but they are life time friends. However it wasn’t until my dad passed that things changed…though that is kind of obvious. With my dad’s passing I became a busy body. I needed to clean, work on the yard, and just get things done again. I also read like crazy…still am reading like crazy but that’s to be expected since it’s only been a little over a month since. In some ways I am still a recluse, but a bit more functional.

Since my dad’s passing I did reach out to my closest friends to let them know. I even forced a heart-to-heart about feeling abandoned from their lack of communication since my brother’s passing. For those that are facing the same situation and turmoil as me, or perhaps know someone who is, please…the feel of being abandoned is high up there. I just lost my brother, and my father, and now my friends are at a loss of what to say to me, so instead said nothing.

Bad choice.

It was a bad choice on my end, but I just didn’t care to try. But I will argue, who could blame me? Looking at it all, I understand the situation it places people. It’s uncomfortable and daunting, trying to be there for someone that is faced with suicide. People ask me how I am doing, how is my family, and the standard small talk greetings when being friendly, but the truth is no one wants to hear you say what’s on your mind. That life just keeps kicking you when you’re down and half of your family just became ashes in the wind all in a year. So yeah…

Not exactly sure what this whole entry is about, other than I took each death completely different, and the ever present feeling of abandonment from those here, and those now gone. Sad thing is, one of my dad’s reasoning for taking his life was for that same feeling.

<<Entry Two       Entry Four>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Two

The last year has been one of the most difficult ones for me, and for my remaining family. In the past six months alone we have lost my oldest brother and father to suicide, followed by my grandfather due to age. And it was almost a year exactly, of this downward spiral, that my grandmother died. I’m not sure the month of April will ever be a good month for me, seems it has a lot of terrible events and history, just sad I was born in the month.

I can only guess why my dad decided to follow after my brother’s example and end his own life six months later, and like most people in similar positions, my thoughts aren’t ones that leave a positive impression. For the most part my dad’s passing has been dealt with by anger, at least on my end. I am just so mad at the choice he made.

A week after they found him I learned he started writing a farewell note in the car, but I haven’t bothered reading it. When I told my manager how my dad wrote a note while slowly suffocating in his own vehicle, I jokingly expressed what a load of horseshit it was because all he had to do was open the damn door. I’m not sure that sentence articulated the feelings I have about the whole situation, but I hope it came off angry, because that was its intention.

And nevermind the whole note, it could be filled with all the heartfelt crap he wanted to put in it and I’m not sure if at this juncture I would feel anything but anger if I read it. The fact is he made a choice, and it wasn’t even a quick one like my brother’s, but one that took time. Lots of time. Enough time that if there was any doubt whatsoever it wouldn’t have happened, because he went by asphyxiation and all he had to do was crack a window.

What really hurts is believing that one of the key causes of him deciding to end everything was because of my brother’s passing. I know he lived vicariously through him, but it makes me feel like such a failure as a child to think I wasn’t good enough for him to stick around for. That my younger brother and sister weren’t good enough for him. It isn’t a surprise that my older brother was highly favored, he was very successful, smart, caring, and devoted. As a middle child, and someone that doesn’t feel successful in life, my self-esteem was already low before all of this drama. The passing of my dad just helped show even further just how little I meant to him.

I realize that’s a poor look to have, especially after the passing of two very important people in my life, but if I’m being honest with myself, I just feel a huge burden of inadequacy.

My step-mother tried telling me my dad wasn’t doing well, so I attempted to reach out. I called him the weekend before everything happened to go over our Easter plans and to confirm I had the time off to be with him. I made it a point to be with my grandparents, his parents, every Easter for the past many years. I’m not sure if my dad ever realized every single vacation day I ever, ever took from work since getting a job was spent with my parents. Well, except for one; last year I did use one for my birthday. But that is a work history of over thirteen years where I constantly had my family in my heart when taking time off.

I am so happy I didn’t distance myself from my family as I got older, but at the same time I am resentful because I feel it slightly thrown in my face. With my older brother I felt a distance from him after he got married. We use to be so close growing up, but with the military and later on a family that bond became more of a memory. The biggest regret I have with his passing is thinking if I only reached out maybe he wouldn’t have made that choice. With my dad, well, that regret isn’t there because I can honestly say I tried. And so I’m a bit resentful, because it just wasn’t enough. I just wasn’t enough.

<<Entry One       Entry Three>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry One

Never having read Frankenstein and only knowing a basic premise of it, the story and idea weighed on my mind the other day. Someone had contacted my (previous) sister-in-law, informing her they were the recipient of my brother’s corneas, and are now able to see. Two things entered my mind upon hearing the news.

First was I was pissed off, not because of them but because she was contacted and thanked. Little does that person know how the very next day after his death she was already talking about moving on. How three months after his funeral she remarried. How six months after his passing, her and the new husband, both unemployed, spent his life insurance on a trip to New York. Or how her personality caused the downfall of my family.

And then there was the second thought; Frankenstein. It occurred to me that by people donating their organs and body parts for others to use once they have died, essentially they are all helping to create the creature in the book. The donation program may be better known if it was referred to as something to help make scientific achievements by merging parts from those no longer living onto people with dead parts. Call it the Frankenstein Project.

Entry Two >>