Commentary: Dear Brother

by David Brox,

Death is one of the most difficult things I deal within my life.  I have lost both sets of my grandparents and numerous people over the course of time that have left me very upset.  My wife’s near death experience a few years ago really opened my eyes to just how short our time is on this earth.  A reality check of sorts to just how precious my family is to me.  Without question those few weeks wondering if my wife would survive were the hardest of my adult life.  My brother in law in one moment opened another door in my life that is challenging me still today.

I am not sharing this information to hunt for sympathy.  I do have two hopes in writing my feelings and what I have experienced through these last few weeks.  First and most importantly my hope and prayer is if I can use this audience and forum to reach just 1 person then it will be worth it.  The second is strictly to talk through the emotions of the pain left behind of a loved one that has made a grave decision.

I got a call at 4:00 AM Sunday June 5th.  My sister in law was hysterical indicating that my brother in law was at some park alone.  I don’t know if I allowed her to say much else beyond this point because I instantly hung up and tried unsuccessfully calling him.  Within minutes I was on the road heading in that direction hoping that he would answer my call. 

I met Thomas Jones many years ago and we were extremely close.  He was my brother by marriage but no doubt my brother in friendship which created a very weird relationship if you knew both of us.  We competed at most any and everything.  We both loved making wagers on sporting events to “make the game more interesting.”  Our most famous bet was an over under bet at our nephews 7th grade basketball game.  We traveled, golfed, played tennis, cards, basketball and most importantly we broke bread all the time as we both have a healthy love of food.  Our friendship was a roller coaster ride for sure.  Namely we would really piss each other off and not talk for a few weeks but figure things out eventually and have fun again.

The drive over was filled with disbelief, panic and emotion.  First, I didn’t really know where the hell I was going but I was hoping to get information as I got to the main street of where they said he was at.  Still a world of hope that I would find him sitting somewhere providing me an opportunity to talk him off the ledge.  In that moment I could not understand a person as smart and logical as he was coming to such a rash conclusion.  I got a call that his car was found and I moved quickly to the location.

I arrived at the park but the entrance was blocked by an officer who would not let me down the street.  I indicated that it was my brother that was down there and I wanted to come help find him.  The park was filled with trees and even in that moment I had a short bit of hope that he had just started walking into the trees.  I asked how many officers were down there looking for him and he indicated that it was 3.  It was that moment that it became clear in my head that they were not looking for him.  It seemed like an hour had past as a CSI van and two detective cars pulled into the park.  My worst fear had just become a stark reality as the detective delivered the news.  My brother and friend had taken his life.

After an incredible amount of reflective thought about suicide and the over whelming grief that comes with it, brought me to a few conclusions.  The first is that the first and most obvious question is also the most irrelevant.  Why?  My thoughts instantly started replaying the last few months of interactions with him to determine what could have possibly been going on.  I kept coming up with the same answer.  It doesn’t really matter.  If he had wrote a note detailing exactly why he was making this decision I am certain it would still be just as confusing.  The reality of the situation is that he was gone and the overwhelming amount of grief hit me.

I had to pull it together as I drove to my sister in laws house.  His wife and mother were there and I told the detective that I would notify them myself.  Not everyone processes death the same way and if you ask my wife I am a hot air balloon of compartmentalized feelings that may one day burst.  In the short drive to his house though I decided that I would have to put myself second and help my family cope with what he had done.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Yes.  Having never lost a sibling I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to do but my instincts insisted that I do everything in my power to just help.  The hardest part of all this for me was having the exact same conversation what felt like hundreds of times.  Hearing and feeling everyone process the information of his passing sent a lot of my emotion further within myself.  I certainly had my moments alone to mourn but since this loss touched me so close I wanted to share the roller coaster ride of emotion.

We will never know what he was thinking in that moment or what possibly could have been said to change his mind.  Perhaps it is as simple as telling him how much he is loved and how much we care.  I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject now but it is worth the space on this website to talk about it.  You may not be in a bad place or having any thoughts of harming yourself but you don’t know who in your circle may be in that type of place.  Tell the people in your circle just how much you care about them.  Tell the people closest to you that you love them.  You may not be able to fix what is going on but you certainly can give them some reassurance how important they are to you.

I am not hear to judge anyone.  If you are in a place where you think suicide is the answer I pray that you seek help.  I promise that you have people in your life that care and selfishly want to see you alive and well.

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