They Are All Gone
(Mount Pleasant, SC)
My Brother Is With The Angels
Recently, I lost my last brother to suicide. I understand why he did it, he was in intense pain, mostly physical. He also suffered from bipolar disorder and PTSD from Viet Nam and his childhood. I am bipolar as well.
I lost my mother in 1996, my oldest brother in 1998, my father in 1998 and the youngest brother in 1999....and now the last of my family is gone as of September 27, 2009. Of course, I'm bipolar, but I take medication and for the most part have rid myself of anger issues, but since his death (3 weeks ago yesterday), I am angry at everything.
I don't know that I am, but I find myself snapping at my children, not having much patience, wanting to be alone. Here's where I realized that I was angry..and was holding back. I went out for a cocktail by myself. I drove my brother's car to a bar, which I had no business being in anyway. It was a run down biker bar.
Please understand that just prior to his death, I had begun volunteering in a variety of situations. I was beginning to feel good about myself again. I was feeling like I had a purpose. Being on disability is not fun, but I can't work out in the public without becoming ill with a headache, or becoming angry, or depressed or manic. Back to the bar. I ended the evening by getting angry at this man because he did not say "thank you" to another man for buying $76.00 worth of drinks and shots.
I had had 3 glasses of wine....way too much for me. I was quite mouthy. The man snapped something back at me. He was in his late 40's, I suppose, I am almost 50 and he was "hitting" on this woman who had just turned 32 that day. She was totally inebriated and I became angered that this dirty old man was trying to take advantage of her and I wanted to start a fight.
I have never done that in a bar. I would never would have paid any attention...I mean everyone was an adult there and responsible for his/her own actions. My brothers were terrible in bars...starting fights all the time. The barmaid broke in and told the man "shut up" and he was like a child saying, "she started it". I laughed and he said something again and the barmaid said "shut up" again.
I left immediately. I knew I was in the wrong place, off my path I should be on (walking with God...God is the only way I gain inner peace). I got home and didn't realize how inebriated I was. My teens were home and asleep. My dog had urinated on my bed and I was trying to flip the mattress. He does this often if I go away. I couldn't turn it. I crawled up the stairs for my daughters to help me with the bed. Instead, they made me a bed right there near their rooms. I fell asleep and then all of a sudden jumped up wanting to go to my own bed...I got up so fast that I fell backwards into the bathroom, first hitting my head on the toilet and then the floor. I had a knot on my head the size of a golf ball.
Back to the anger issue. I am so angry at my brother. He tried to kill himself 3x until I invited him to move in with us. What a mistake. He was full of anger. He terrified me and my daughters. I go from being angry with him, to missing him, to horrible guilt about the fact that I made him move out, not loving him enough, to wishing that I could be with my family as well, but I have two children. I have alienated every friend I have.
Well, that is, based on one of the friends slandering my brother and another friend finding it necessary to slander him 2 days after his death.
At first I let it go over my head. I had reached that level of peace via my religion, however the second time she said it, I was driving my brother's car to my house and I became enraged. I didn't say anything to her, but I was slowly boiling over.
When I thought about what a kind-hearted man my brother was even though he had issues, he didn't deserve that slap in the face, nor did I. I went crazy and sent e-mails flying to friends all over the place. I was intensely angry. Through my biblical and Hindu studies, forgiveness is the key and I told these people despite what they did to me, "I forgive you." I do this so I can move on. However, that is not true--I don't forgive them. I am still so angry and hurt I can't think straight.
I still cannot bury my brother because they haven't issued a death certificate yet. No toxicology report. The Veteran's Adminstration was of no help to me. In fact, they treated him like he was a pain in the rear...no mental help, no pain relief. I would want to die as well. The VA wouldn't help me with any burial details. In fact, I am still waiting on the paperwork they were supposed to send.
Fortunately, the funeral home I finally found is working with me. My brother, God bless him and the many problems he had, he still had the presence of mind to have life insurance. So when the time comes, I can give him a proper burial. So you see I am not only suffering from the hurt and pain of his death, but I am also suffering through on my own, with no help, no back up, and feeling betrayed and paranoid. That makes me angry. I feel people just don't understand. They go about their business, laughing, not understanding what I or my brother went through.
I am just flat out angry and I don't want to be that way. I want to go back to the peace I had. All I want to do now is sleep. My psychiatrist said my meds were fine and I was just moving through the stages of grief. Still, I do get angry at times. Not violent, or aggressive....aggressive with words perhaps--wanting to hurt someone else as much as I possibly can because I have been hurt. My emotions go from hurt to frustration to anger to wanting revenge (and I lean on the verse "Vengence is mine sayeth the Lord" (I forget the exact scripture). It calms me down much. That is my story. Oh, and I do always end up in some kind of abusive relationship, and all my brothers used drugs on a continual basis. My father was an alcoholic thus passing the gene to us. Any advice? My psychiatrist basically said I handled things well, and that I was only telling the truth to the friends and that what I am experiencing is a part of moving through grief.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Nancy. Thank you so much for writing your story on this site. My heart goes out to you, for all you've been through. Multiple losses like you have experienced are very difficult, to say the least. I think you have done very well under the circumstances. I'm very glad you have your religion and your faith as a resource. That is the best comfort and healing of all.
I don't think I need to tell you to be careful with alcohol. You seem to already know that. Nothing good can come from mixing anger and sorrow with alcohol.
Your psychiatrist sounds good, and I agree with everything s/he is telling you. I will add some suggestions here that might be helpful to you.
First, take a look at this page on the stages of grief, and see if any of these grieving processes seem to fit for you regarding any of your losses. Grieving is a deep and involved process, and it has to be done consciously.
Write the whole story of your relationship with your brother. Get it all out, and that will help you a lot. I cannot over emphasize the importance of writing your feelings. You are a good writer, as I can see by what you've written here.
Use the page on grieving to see if you have any residual grief regarding your other losses.
This page will offer you more guidance on the writing process--pay special attention to the part about writing from your anger, as that will be very helpful to you.
Consider that your brother and your family are doing well now. Picture them happy and healthy in your mind's eye. Celebrate the beauty and goodness of their lives, and embrace the gifts they gave you.
Death and grieving, at their best, teach us to be more loving, joyful and giving people. Make up your mind that you are going to use your grief process to create that outcome, and you will.
You are a good and strong person, Nancy. Remember that, and try to love and appreciate yourself.
My very best to you,