Suicide of a Brother: the Aftermath

By Karen Kosman:

The suicide of a brother is traumatic for siblings left behind. Here’s how God can help.

In the following story, my daughter Linda shares how the trauma of her brother’s suicide brought grief and pain. Wave after wave of emotions cascaded down on her, creating confusion. Linda isolated herself from the rest of the world with an overwhelming feeling of shame. How would she ever find happiness? Would God forgive her, let alone help her?

This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivorsand used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Aftermath of my Brother’s Suicide, by Linda Goetz

restaurant stockimages  FDG netOne week after my brother’s memorial service, I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant where I worked. I parked, then paused a moment beside my car, thoughts churning inside my head. This is my first day back to work. I can’t face anyone. I can’t tell them how Robbie died.

My heart skipped a beat. I don’t understand why this happened—why my brother took his own life. I’ll never see him again, and he’ll never again share special moments in my life. Echoing in my head over and over were the words: Robbie hung himself. I covered my ears, but the words would not be silenced, God, I feel awful. I don’t understand.

As I walked through the front door of the restaurant, chattering voices and smells from the kitchen greeted me. Nothing settled my aching heart, not even being in a familiar environment. I kept wishing I could turn around and run. But instead, I hurried to wait on customers.

I approached a table where a man sat smiling at me. I felt my resolve slipping away; and I burst into tears. I couldn’t answer this bewildered stranger who asked, “What’s wrong?”

Unable to tell any of my co-workers the source of my pain I turned and ran out of the restaurant.

I drove home, crying so hard I could hardly see. True, I felt ashamed. But behind my inability to deal with my brother’s suicide, fear dominated me. Growing up, I once heard a sermon by a minister who believed people who died by suicide did not go to heaven.

I wanted my life to change. I wanted to reach out and help others. The first step was to break up with my boyfriend of two years, a relationship that had only brought unhappiness. Next, I called home and asked, “Mom is it OK if I move home for awhile?”

“Of course you can,” she responded.

I began to understand no matter what you tell people, the facts don’t change, and the truth remains in your heart, mind, and soul.

I prayed for answers. I thought back to the times when my brother had been hospitalized, and we’d been told that he had a chemical imbalance. Gradually a little light began to shine on my fear and same. I realized that no one but God is capable of judging.

Once I reached a point where I could leave what happened to my brother in God’s hands, I began to accept what I could not change. I learned to cherish life more and searched my heart for new direction.

Looking back, I understand that God watched over me during those difficult years. He brought joy back into my life. Today, I teach at a local vocational college. I’ve been married for 27 years and have two beautiful daughters.

I feel a deep compassion for people whose lives have drastically been altered by the pain of suicide. Today I am finally free of my shame. In my bedroom I have a picture of my brother and me, when we were young. I look at it and smile as I treasure the special memories of Robbie.

Whenever I have an opportunity I encourage others never to give up on life.

 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Bible Gateway:  Psalm 119: 28

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If depressed and suicidal, get help by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. IF IN IMMEDIATE DANGER of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or (in Spanish)
1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432).
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Our blog, Thinking About Suicide, offers personal stories and prayers from those who have overcome the urge to commit suicide or lost someone to suicide. We also list resources related to depression, bullying, cutting and other mental health related topics or news.
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Use our SEARCH box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics. Our authors hope to encourage you and remind you that others in situations like yours have found hope and help. We hope and pray you do too. However, we also encourage you to get local help if you are suicidal: call a counselor or the suicide prevention hotline to connect personally with someone who can help you.

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