Letter to Brian: June 3, 2013

Dear Brian,

Something has been on my brain lately after seeing a post on Facebook offering condolences to someone who had recently experienced a death in their family.  The reason it has continued to hang around in my thoughts is that the very same comment was said to me at one point after you died and it felt like one of the most hurtful things I could imagine at the time.  That comment was, “It was god’s will.”

Seriously?  It hurt me so very badly to hear someone say in response to your death that it was supposed to happen; that god had a “plan” for you and that plan somehow included you killing yourself at age 35.  I wish people would be more careful with those kinds of words because they may not know what kind of belief system the other person holds and comments like that can be far more hurtful than helpful.  I personally am not a christian and I do not believe in god; but I was not ever offended when someone would say, “I am praying for you and your family.”  Whether they are praying to god, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Buddha, Jim Jones or The Great Pumpkin… I don’t really care.  The intentions behind the prayers are kind and loving.  However, I received absolutely no comfort whatsoever from hearing someone tell me that god planned for you to suffer for so long and die so young.  I guess I wish more people understood that it would be far more appreciated to keep the sympathetic sentiments simple like, “I’m really sorry your brother passed away.  I’m here to listen if you need it… please know you are in my thoughts.”

I am not a fan of anyone pushing their religious beliefs on anyone else at any time… but following the death of a loved one is an especially unsettling time for that to occur.  It baffles me that there are people that would find nothing wrong with telling me that you are spending an eternity in hell for your act of suicide.  Nothing about that is OK.  If someone out there believes that in their heart, fine… they are entitled to it just as I am equally as entitled to NOT believe that.  But keep it to yourself, people!  What good can possibly come from telling someone whose brother has died that not only are they experiencing a crippling grief at the loss but that their departed loved one is now going to be suffering at the hands of “Beelzebub” for the next 100,000 years?  It would never occur to me to say to a devout christian who lost a loved one, “Hey, that whole ‘heaven thing’ you’ve been talking about for years doesn’t exist so don’t get your hopes up that they ended up there.  Just trying to be honest with you because I care, buddy.”

I don’t know if I ever told you this but I was referred to a therapist by a friend a number of years ago when you and I were still living together, actually.  Turned out she was a christian therapist.  I don’t know that words exist to describe the level of crazy I experienced during that 2 hour session.  The primary focus was asking Jesus to “speak to me” and take me back to the first time I self-injured as a child… and asking Jesus to command the departure of the “evil spirits” which had obviously inhabited my body.  She all but performed an exorcism that day.  Again… seriously??  About a dozen times she asked Jesus to relay a message to me and she’d watch me as I blankly stared back at her and report that no, Jesus had not just whispered something in my ear.  And no, I did not feel any different now that she’d ordered those pesky “demons” to hit the road.  And to think I walked in that day thinking I was seeking help for my depression; I left having been told that my problem was far more severe… not only was I clinically depressed, but it was because I was possessed by a handful of evil spirits which apparently refused to leave and that Jesus wasn’t talking to me.  Way to kick a gal when she’s down.  Needless to say, that was intentionally the ONLY session I endured with her.

Guess I got off on a tangent here… it’s just been bothering me and I felt like talking to you about it.  I have never believed that “god planned for this to happen.”  I also don’t believe, nor have I ever believed, that you are burning in hell right now.  In fact, I believe quite the opposite.  Every single day I feel you around me, watching over me and I distinctly sense the freedom I believe you feel now that you are no longer bound to the earth that brought you so much pain.

As always, thanks for the talk dude.

Love you!


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I lost my brother Brian, my only sibling, to suicide on October 13, 2010. I write about dealing with the loss as well as my own life-long struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.

3 thoughts on “Letter to Brian: June 3, 2013”

  1. Laura, I completely relate to your feelings about this. I find that those types of responses are overly simple and seem to make the person who is saying it feel better while doing nothing for the recipient of those words. Religion can bring peace to some, but can also increase the suffering of others. I am a “believer” of science, and we know for a fact that the energy of the universe is constant, which means there is no destruction or creation, just transformation. This knowledge gives me all the comfort I need. Much love and peace to you, my friend.

  2. Laura, I feel your pain and frustration. I have a hard time believing that any God would have wanted my brother, or your brother to have to live a life of such suffering and end it by making the most difficult choice.
    I also believe that my brother is with me. The shape or form I cannot describe, but I know that it is right.
    Take for example the other day. I had a scheduled appointment with a specialist yesterday that was made months and months and months ago. It was written on the calendar on the fridge, and as much as I go to the fridge, I never really look at that calendar.
    On Tuesday (the day before my appointment) I was “led” to my calendar. A thought popped into my mind about crossing the days off the calendar, so I grabbed a marker and started to cross of the days (which I never do) and noticed that my specialist appointment was the next day. Immediately, I had this sense that my brother had helped me.
    Many of those people who believe in God do not believe what I describe. They think it is coincidence. And that’s fine – they are entitled to their opinion. Our beliefs are our own, so when they say to me “it’s God’s will”, I think them just as batshit crazy as they think I am when I explain how my brother guides me day to day.

  3. Yes, YES! so much yes. I grew up in a fire and brimstone religion… I think it actually contributed to my brother’s decision to take his life.

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