When it strikes, even the most basic survival skills, such as breathing, become a chore. We lost a brother. My brother-in-law, but very much my brother through and through. He was battling with depression and we had barely been made aware of it when he took his own life. This was a man who lived life to the fullest and gave everything he had to others, never asking for a thing in return. He was a direct extension of our family; a brother, an uncle, and the ultimate godfather to our son, Justin. He rarely missed an event. Our lives without him will never, ever, be complete.
Depression has no clear definition. It is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. It is a trickery of ups and downs, combined with denial and self-loathing. Add extreme medication without proper monitoring and the end result is an unhinging of not just the person who leaves but of who and what he leaves behind. What we would give to have a week back. We sat with our brother watching the championship Dodgers game just hours before he left this world. At the time we thought he was having a rough day due to big changes he had to make, such as finding a new job and a new place to live. In hindsight, he was having a rough time staying alive.
Grief, like depression, is wholly undefinable and recovery feels more like a state of delusion. Each of us has our personal process. Some want to remain as close to the source of grief as possible and surround themselves with memories, such as looking at photos of a lost loved one and keeping their belongings close. Others, however, need to separate from the loss. They need more time to grieve and can’t handle the constant reminder of their devastation. This is what we are experiencing in our family. Many of us keep looking through albums and reading note cards sent by our brother. A few family members are not prepared to see the items he left behind. It’s utterly painful.
This is the thing.
Life-altering grief. We can study the stages of grief and we should all reach out for help, but we cannot stop the process of going through it. We have to go right through the emotion-plundering eye of the storm. If you have grieved the loss of a person, a marriage, a job, or perhaps even your precious family pet, you know this passage all too well. Many of you may have suffered a major illness and have had parts of your precious body removed or replaced. This too is grief.
With all of my broken heart, I reach out to you to say, there are people who care about you. There are resources to help you if you are depressed or you are grieving. If you are on medication that is not working or making your circumstances seem even worse, talk to someone you can trust. We are meant to be together. God designed us to be in communion with one another and if you are hurting, reach out. Even if I don’t know you, reach out to me.
Finally, if you are able to help someone else, even with a kind word, do NOT hesitate. You may never recognize the impact you make by reaching out to others. Together. We can and we must make a difference, together. Mental health awareness is a crucial first step.
Our family is in the midst of finding a new normal beneath the blanket of grief we are wrapped in. If you have helped me, hugged me, or held me in prayer, I love you. With God by my side, I aim to bring joy to those who are grieving and those who are struggling. Always remember, you are not alone.
P.S. I did not realize someone was taking this picture of me as I whispered my final words to my brother-in-law. While it’s difficult for me to post, I decided sharing one of the most vulnerable moments in my life aligns with my aim to be authentic in everything I do.