Someone asked me how I ever survived the death of my brother by suicide. My
reply is that "You survive because you have no choice. You have to go on,
even if you wish you didn't have to. There is no other option."
My youngest brother and I were always very close. We had this unspoken bond.
We didn't have to talk to each other every day or even every week. I always
knew he would be there for me if I ever needed him. If something would ever
happen to my husband and me, it gave me great comfort to know that Terry
would be there for my three children. He loved my children almost as much as
his own. Because of our own financial limitations, Terry even offered to
help get my children through college. That was just the kind of person he
I last saw Terry at Easter of 1999, approximately six weeks before his death.
We had a great visit. Every year, everyone came to my house for an Easter
Egg hunt. I remember Terry out there with the children. His youngest child
was nine months old. He carried Kyle around and helped him gather eggs.
Everything seemed fine. Terry was laughing and having fun and enjoying the
day. All of the guys had their regular basketball game. Little did we know
that this would be the last holiday we would ever have with Terry.
A few weeks later, I was off work due to back problems. I was scheduled to
have back surgery on May 17. On May 15 Terry called me to wish me luck with
my surgery. I realized that something was terribly wrong with him. He was
totally stressed out about a job promotion and move that was about to occur.
Instead of being happy and excited about it, he was in a total state of
panic. He would be a corporate vice president of a large insurance firm. He
didn't think he could handle the responsibility. It ended up that we were
both crying on the phone and I didn't know what to do. He lived 5 hours away
and I was flat on my back in bed. I called my other two brothers and cried
to them. I don't think they understood my terror. I had this horrible
feeling that something really bad was going to happen, only I didn't know how
bad it would get.
Two days later I had my surgery. Terry was in the back of my mind, but I was
consumed with my own problems at the moment. He never called to see how my
surgery went. How could he not call and check on me? His wife did call to
see how I was and told me that Terry was going to see a psychiatrist and had
been put on an antidepressant. She didn't seem all that worried and I just
had to hope that she was watching over him, because I couldn't get to him.
On May 23, I called Terry. He didn't seem any better to me. He was totally
stressed out. I begged him to drive home and spend time with me. I was off
work and couldn't drive. I told him I needed company. He told me he
couldn't come down because he had to go to work the next day. I kept asking
myself how this could be happening. How could Terry go from being this
wonderful, successful person to a person who could barely function? What was
happening to him? I will never know.
On May 26, 1999 my brother drove to a bridge one hour from his home and
jumped off onto a highway. My sister-in-law called me and told me, I somehow
thought it was all a bad dream. This could never happen to my family. This
could only happen to some other mentally crazed person I would read about in
I remember screaming and feeling as though my feet were going to give out
from under me. I remember screaming into the phone at my sister-in-law, "Why
didn't you help him?" Then the line went dead. I kept thinking it wasn't
true. I was going to wake up and this was all going to be an awful dream.
My parents were elderly and not in good health. How could their youngest
child be dead by suicide? How had they failed him? We had this perfect
childhood. We weren't abused; we weren't drug addicts or alcoholics, what
I remember asking myself, "How could things be any worse?" As horrible as
this sounds, I feel jealousy when I hear someone talk of losing someone to
cancer, or a car accident or even murder. I want to be able to be angry with
someone or something or a disease. I want to blame someone other than my
brother. I loved him so much, how can I be angry with him for what he did to
There is still such a stigma with suicide. I still cringe when I have to
tell people what happened to Terry. I don't want to be ashamed of how he
died, and I have to remind myself that it was the depression that killed
Terry. When you mention the word suicide, though people just want to turn
around and run the other way. The other thing with suicide is that you do
want someone to blame. This blame and finger pointing has ripped my family
apart. It will never be the warm, loving family that it once was. Terry's
suicide has taken that away from us.
Suicide grief has got to be the worse. When you think you are moving
forward, the what ifs come back to haunt you. If only I had called Terry on
his cell phone that morning instead of at his office, if only I didn't have
my back surgery when I did-- those sort of things. There have been many days
when I am just waking up, still half-asleep and I say, "Please God, let me
wake up and this is all a bad dream." Then of course you wake up and the
reality hits you once again. I made the mistake of putting myself on a time
schedule. I thought, just give me a year and I will "get over" this. It
took me two years to realize that I will never get over it, just learn to
incorporate the pain into my life. There will always be this big empty spot
in my heart that I learn to live with.
Many days I am still angry with Terry for putting us through this. He should
be around to help with our parents. My dad is fighting a horrible disease,
Parkinson's. He fights every day just to get out of bed and move around.
Mom had knee surgery two months ago, and still has extreme pain. I see them
fighting to live, why could he have fought to live?
I will never be the same person I was. Some things for the better, I guess.
I am a much more compassionate, caring person. Part of me is much more
cynical though, which I don't like. I have realized just how unfair life is