Letter to Brian: November 6, 2015

Dear Brian,

I’ve become pretty good at grieving for you in the past 5 years.  I didn’t waste any time in getting myself to a support group a few weeks after you died and I was already doing individual therapy; I just increased the frequency of my appointments to talk and just get it all out in a supportive and therapeutic environment.  I’ve never denied myself the freedom to feel whatever it is that comes up and just let it be exactly what it is for as long as it needs to be because I don’t believe there is any “wrong” way to grieve or any kind of timeframe in which anyone should be “over it” when you lose someone that means as much as you mean to me.

While I still feel there is a part of me which is still in denial from time to time, for the most part I’ve accepted that you’re just not coming back.  You died.  We emptied out your house and sold your car. We had you cremated.  We had your funeral and friends and family from all around came to say goodbye to you.  There really wasn’t any choice but to just keep moving forward.

Sometimes the grief still grabs a hold of me around the throat when I least expect it and I lose my ability to get any air in my lungs as I choke on my memories of you; sometimes it’s triggered by a song… or a smell… or a car that looks like yours… or sometimes nothing at all when my mind betrays me by obsessing over a random memory that I suddenly can’t seem to shake. So I just allow it to overcome me for a while.  I let it all the way in, absorb it completely and feel absolutely everything it forces me to feel.  Those feelings are there for a reason.  I’m aware that for me, reliving those memories is the only way I’ll get through the pain– I take it in, process it and then let it go.  And repeat it all again the next time.

I’ve found that grieving the loss my relationship of nearly 3 years has been similar in so many ways.  It’s been 67 days since it ended and there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t thought about him… missed him… wondered what he was doing… wondered if he ever thinks about me anymore.  I’m so eager for all of these feelings to stop haunting me.  At least when I lost you, I didn’t have the option of reaching out to you with a text, an email or a phone call.  The temptation of reaching out to someone I loved so deeply who is only a few miles away is just so great.  We brought out so many wonderful qualities in each other but also seemed to trigger each other’s worst qualities at times… and in the end it just didn’t feel healthy to be together anymore.  It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my whole life.

But last night, for the first time in months, I was in that old neighborhood to deliver something to a friend who lived in my old apartment complex.  As I walked along side the building and looked up at the apartment I used to call home, a flood of memories crashed into me like a wall, all at once.  I saw the window that led to the room where we were when he asked me if I would be his girlfriend.  I saw the window to my old bedroom where I was laying as we spoke on the phone and he told me he loved me for the very first time.  I saw the patch of grass on which I stood so many times waiting and watching for his car to appear around the corner when he was coming to pick me up for a hike or brunch or an evening date.  I pictured myself standing there again, getting butterflies like I did every time he picked me up and feeling happy and complete as I stepped into his car and took hold of his hand.

It’s pretty embarrassing how hard it hit me last night.  It all happened so terribly fast and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I was completely overtaken with grief and a sense of deep loss for everything that had been so wonderful about us.  Because there was a lot of it.  But we also both brought out some tendencies in each other that made it hard to ultimately be healthy when we were together.  I’m grieving for something that I gave up willingly because I knew it is what was best for me at the time and yet I still long to see him as I lay down to sleep each night.  I know… it doesn’t make sense to me, either.  I guess we all sometimes want things that we know aren’t good for us.

But like I’ve done while grieving for you, I let these feelings creep in, have their way with me and hope that they pass soon.  Admittedly, I sometimes attempt to drown them in wine like I did the first few months after you died; it was just easier to numb myself to the point where it didn’t hurt… because after enough glasses of wine, I couldn’t feel anything anymore.

I’m a bit surprised at how many people have told me I just need to “get back out there” or “just go have myself a fling.”  That’s never been my style and I’m certainly not in a place emotionally where that would be a good idea for anyone involved, particularly me.  I’ve accepted that I need to just be alone for a long time and allow myself this time to mourn and to heal… there is no room in my heart for someone new because so much of it is still occupied by him.  But there is a joy in that, too… the fact that I’m still suffering so much means that I had something pretty wonderful for a while.  The greater the love, the greater the loss, it would seem.  And of all my romantic relationships, this has been by far the biggest loss I’ve ever felt.

I know that someday I’ll be over all of this because I never imagined myself being able to function again after your suicide and if I can overcome that kind of tremendous loss I know that I’ll come through this OK at some point, too.  I just hope that happens sooner than later.

Thanks for listening, dude.



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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.