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Sep11
2015

Defining Grief

By Amanda Long

August 5, 2013. That’s the date that changed my life forever: the day I lost my big brother to suicide. The memories surrounding this day are burned in my brain and easily play on repeat – and in slow motion – if I let them. These memories have crushed me. They’ve devastated me beyond my understanding. They’ve ripped my heart apart and turned my life upside down. Yes, these memories have hurt me. They will not hold me down and keep me from living my life to the fullest, however. I will endure.

Endure. It’s a simple word, yet so complex. Definitions of the word include to suffer patiently, to remain in existence, and to undergo a hardship without giving in. Synonyms for the word include sustain, undergo, survive, persist, and persevere. After studying the definitions of the word “endure,” I decided that it would be my word for the year. This would be the word for me to focus on and to live out to the best of my ability. To endure. Yes, I will endure in 2015. But how am I going to do it?

To suffer patiently. This definition, at times, is laughable. Patiently? Suffer patiently? What does that even mean? In grieving my brother I have had times of anger that I am left without him. I’ve felt resentment toward people who have a close bond with their siblings. I have questioned God, thrown and punched things, and cried in a heap on the floor. These are not the actions of a person suffering patiently. I’m suffering all right, but I’m doing it loudly, and, at times, it can be pretty ugly.

So I go right back to my dictionary and look up “patience.” Some of the definitions include bearing pain, being tolerant, and persevering. This information brings a slight smile to my lips. It seems that I have never truly understood the meaning of the word. I am bearing pain and have tolerated it for the last 18 months. I am choosing to persevere through the hard times. If the mere act of suffering is a form of having patience, then maybe I am suffering patiently after all.

To remain in existence. That one is easier for me. I am still here. I’m not going anywhere. In fact, if anything, my presence on this planet is even more pronounced than it was before my loss. If I have to go through the experience of losing my big brother, one of my closest friends, to suicide, then I am going to do great things with my loss. My loss will become a gain for others.

I have chosen to stand up and fight. I have decided to speak about suicide awareness any time I get the chance. I’ve written a blog post about suicide and grief. You see, through my suffering, I am determined to help others. I don’t want to go through this horrible tragedy without doing something with the things I have learned. This epidemic of suicide, this taboo subject society is not comfortable discussing, will not hold me down. No, I will continue to stand up and fight for those who cannot fight any longer. I will tell everyone who needs to hear it, every single one of you who is reading this article, that you are important. You are worthy. You are loved. You serve a purpose in this world, and the world could never be the same without you. I will endure by continuing to exist. And I want you to continue to exist with me.

To undergo a hardship without giving in. We’ve all undergone some kind of hardship, haven’t we? And, if you’re reading this, you haven’t given in. I refuse to let the pain take me under. However, I have learned that it’s OK to embrace the suffering. Last year I came to a point where I just didn’t want to cry one more tear. But why? Those tears of mine represent so much more than just sadness. Each tear cried represents a memory of my brother or a memory that I won’t get to create with him. My tears represent thirty-three years of memories I had with my brother – some wonderful, some ugly, some hilarious, and some sad. Those are memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Now there are days or even weeks that I go without crying. But sometimes I will glimpse a Chevy truck like the one he drove when he was a teenager or hear a Pearl Jam song in the middle of a store or smell cologne that reminds me of him, and I find myself in tears in an instant. There are still moments when something ridiculous happens that I need to tell my brother, but as I pick up my phone to begin a text I remember that he’s gone. In those moments, I cry. I let the tears flow. I don’t care any longer where I am or who is watching. If I need to cry, I am going to embrace it and let it happen and not apologize for it. The tears I have shed have brought me great healing and strength. I will give in to the tears, but I will not give in to the idea that I cannot handle the journey I am traveling. I will endure by undergoing this hardship without giving in.

As I sit here and write, I have a smile on my face but tears in my eyes. That often happens when I think about memories of my brother now. I can find joy in the memories, but I still end up with my eyes dripping. But that is OK because I have come so far in the last few months from where I was during the first year after losing my brother. My life has changed in so many ways in the last year and a half. I was naïve to think that these changes and experiences could never happen to our family, but I am learning something new each day as I travel this winding road of grief. So as I look forward to the rest of this year, I will continue to endure. Some days I will endure with a smile on my face, and some days I will endure with tear-stained cheeks. Whatever hardships you are facing today, you can endure them. Together we can face this world head-on. Together we can suffer patiently and continue to exist. Together we can face our hardships without giving in. Together we can endure.

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Comments (31)

  1. Rachel

    Beautifully written. You are talented, thanks for sharing your pain. Keep enduring lovely!

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    1. Amanda Long

      Thank you!

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  2. Kellie

    Thanks Amanda for your touching & truthful blog as it touched my heart. I lost my brother to suicide last year & the pain is unbearable 😢 I relive his moment of true dispair & guilt of what more I could have done. Like you things bring back memories & you just want to pick up the phone & talk. We could have 4+ hour convos as we had so much in common & reminisced alot. We had great memories but such as life it got harder/sadder & he struggled so convos where sad/angry too. Know he had mental issues that were never taken care of & he never wanted to address but I should have fought more for him…never thought he would really leave us that way. I have learned so much more since then! He could be so happy, fun/funny & so caring then be so depressed & angry. He dealt with many addictions but overcame them..had lots of demons even with the wonderful life we were blessed with. We lost my wonderful sis-in-law before him (they broke up but she was his true love & were close friends again as she loved him too) He kept his faith & tried so hard to do good but know he was hurting so much (more things involved with him) He was trying to help me & my husband with his current struggles with severe drinking (he was in physical & mental pain too with grief also) He was not a nice drunk but the most loving & caring person/husband..love of my life & my best friend too then he passed away 😢 I feel all now (& I was always very happy) severe depression, major anxiety, guilt & sadly loss of my faith & hope. I so feel for my mom & dad/family wish to be me again as they need me..been taking care of my sick mom over the years & live in different state. So sorry as I have rambled on too much! I so feel for you & so sorry for your loss..understand. You want to talk please send me a message..I’m here to listen & hope to help you as your blog has helped me & inspired me..made me understand so much more & so needed (we not alone) even if we feel that way in our own grief.
    Thanks, love & hugs,
    Kellie

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      Thank you for sharing your story! Your family is in my thoughts. You have been through so much pain. Endure, my friend!

      Reply  |  
      1. Kellie

        Thanks Amanda for me & my family so appreciate the thoughts & understanding xo Trying hard to endure 🙁 need to get the help I know I need now. I hope you endure most days with that smile on your face even though I know the tears are always there..my thoughts are with you <3 Kellie

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    2. Lisa

      Thank you for sharing your story. I lost my little brother to suicide 3 months after he graduated from medical school. Its been a hard year but each day gets easier. Its easier to know im not alone in what i feel but have others i can share with. Each days a challenge but with faith we overcome anything. 🙂

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      1. Kellie

        Lisa, I’m so sorry for your loss of your brother too & with suicide it’s so hard to deal with. You must have been so proud of him graduating medical school & now deal with all the what ifs. I’m so glad you have your faith as I struggle with mine now but know that it makes it harder without it. I still believe I just don’t understand anymore..I prayed for them & then their gone. Now I’m not well with all the loss & pain I feel/my family too. With my husband gone now too..I’m lost. Thanks for reading my story & your inspiration. I’m here if you want to share more of yours..You are not alone & in my thoughts. Kellie xo <3

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  3. Kaye Pool

    I lost my son Sept.2,2014 to suicide and that was the worst experience I have every been thur. He had some marital problems but he had 5 step -children and had one adopted when he was born. He was a great father to them and loved them like his own. He was 36 years old. We have another son who is 41 and he has been our rock . Without the saving power of God we could not make it, He only gives us what we can handled? I am like you I see something that reminds me of him and the tears flow.

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      Prayers for your family. No, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but the world sure does, doesn’t it!

      Reply  |  
  4. Pingback: Using Dictionary Definitions To Guide Yourself Through Grief | She Had Blue Skin And So Did He

  5. bellla

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother, and your pain.
    I’m proud of you and your heart.
    God bless

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      Thank you!

      Reply  |  
  6. Anna

    Thank you for writing this and opening up about everything you’ve gone through.
    What you wrote was exactly what I’ve needed to hear. I lost someone a little over a year ago and I’ve barely felt like I’ve been surviving.
    Thank you for enduring, and encouraging others to do the same.
    I will endure through the hardest times in life to prove my strength.
    Thank you.

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      Thanks for the kind words. Endure, Anna! You’ve got this.

      Reply  |  
  7. Amy

    I lost my boyfriend to suicide recently and I’m finding it hard to cope…but this gave me a sense of comfort. Thank you!

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      Thank you. Prayers for you.

      Reply  |  
  8. Haley

    Amanda, my big brother committed suicide in May. So needless to say, the very first sentence of your blog post brought me tears immediately. Everything you said is exactly what I am experiencing right now. Thank you for writing.

    Reply  |  
    1. Amanda Long

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad that my words resonate with you. Prayers for you.

      Reply  |  
  9. Adam

    Thank you for this. Today is the one year anniversary of my brother’s suicide and it really encapsulates how I’m feeling. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  10. Abby

    I feel for you, I truly do. And I am so glad you have courage to stand tall. I lost a friend to suicide when I was 13 years old. It ripped me to shreds. I cried so much. I kept strong, and I still do. I miss her tremendously. I won’t ever forget the class, I found out.. that she was gone. It still is so hard for me, to keep the tears in. She left too soon. I am still living though. And she is watching. I am proud of myself that I have kept going on. Again, I am sorry for your loss. I am not even pretending I know what it feels like to lose a sibling to suicide. I hope you continue to stay strong. I have faith in you. It will be quite a journey. I hope you remember though…..we will Always carry them in our hearts. <3 Abby

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  11. Carmen

    ive ben a fitefighter for 18 yrs. ive seen a lot of bad things. I live to serve others & help–in any way i can; however, i lost my Dad to suicide. It was by far the most difficult thing i hv ever had to endure. I appreci8 ur article, & i agree. Its been 5 yrs now, & it has gotten “easier….” The loss is still there, but understanding & time go a long way😊

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  12. Kelsie Gale

    wow. Thank you so much for this. I lost my big brother as well to suicide January 5, 2012. It’s a gaping hole that can never be filled but I still find the courage to keep going, keep talking about it like you have been. People like you are part of my inspiration. I now have a better understanding of the word patience. Thank you for your wisdom and strength to bear your heart to the world. You really have made a difference and I can relate so much to every word you said. I hope you continue to find peace and grow stronger every day. Thank you a million times.

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  13. Tristin

    Dear Amanda ,
    Reading your story brings me back to the day, the moment that changed my life forever as well . I also lost my big brother to suicide, that was 8 years ago. When people ask if it gets easier with time … Well it’s doesn’t get easier you just get a little more used to your new normal. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my brother or wonder what his life would be like if he just kept fighting his demons but I also know that God has plans for all of us and its up to us .. The “survivors” of suicide to keep pushing , keeping helping , and some how things will change, things will get better . I will pray you and your family. I hope this little response helps you endure one more day knowing your not alone in grief and your not alone in working for a change in our world. God Bless

    Thanks for sharing your story.. Here is a little bit of my brothers story … Botkach.com

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  14. Jane Ronneberg

    This is so well written. Thank you. I have ENDURED for five years since suicide took my daughter. Every day requires one to suffer patiently. Yet, we continue to endure.

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  15. Marianne

    Firstly love to you on you journey x its four years 11/9/11 that my brother john also lost his battle with depression x as a family we were close,yeah we had our differences,we we catch up at weekends at my mums,but this doesn’t seem to have bought us closer,I find it hard to see the pain in my mothers eyes,my two sisters I don’t see them for weeks sometimes,we all grieving,and we know life is to short,but its done something that I can’t explain x losing one has lost four,we came together x 😞 forever heart broken x

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  16. Mia

    Thank you for sharing your story. It really touched me.
    I always thought that every single human being was important and worthy, but for some reason I couldn’t believe that I was too. However, when I read you words saying that every single one of us is important, worthy and loved I believed you. I thought about my family, especially my little brother. Reading about how much you grief made me think about how much my family would grief. And that made me realize how much I am loved.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It really gave me a new perspective and a lot of strength and courage to keep on fighting.

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  17. Heather

    36 years later the tears are more rare, but the loving, the missing go on. A person who commits suicide is NOT selfish nor are they cowards. They are people who hurt beyond their ability to cope. They still love their families, part of their pain is in not wanting to let them down. They are precious and worthy of our love. It took so long not to grieve every time I walked behind his chair and I couldn’t touch his shoulder….to keep hoping I would see him in a truck and it would all be a nightmare. But one does endure. Life still brings joy and new love. I am so sorry you share this unique tragedy.

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  18. Heather

    And I thank you for your determination to create awareness. Thank you.

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  19. Kathy "Kat" Dyer

    Thank you, Amanda. Your words and wisdom from your heart meant a lot to me. A friend of mine lost her only daughter three years ago in a car accident. There is a small memorial garden for Alora at my house. She was only 22. I didn`t know her very well but so many young people in the small town where I live had known her and been touched by her friendly, love everybody personality. I think of her every day and say goodnight as I watch the lights twinkle in her little garden bed each night. I have lost people who were dear to me both young and old. I believe in living our lives to honor the memory of those we have lost. They have left their love-prints on our hearts and in our memories.
    I am new to this movement and have just begun to read the book “If You Love Too Much”. There is strength is sharing our stories and the ways we have learned to cope with tragedy and despair.
    Peace and Blessings to you,
    Kathy D.

    Reply  |  
  20. Randy Williams

    I fought for my son and him receiving mental illness help for 20 years. Our world changed forever on June 22, 2017. Endure is a word I stumbled upon and made my own. Here I read what “endure” means to another survivor. I too have cried, maybe crying less, and still find myself crying. I miss my son.

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert

      Randy,

      We are truly sorry for your loss. We wish your son was still here, too. Please know that your bravery to speak about your struggles and loss is encouraging and inspiring to us and others who are all too familiar with these hardships.

      You are welcome to email us at info@twloha.com at any time. We are here to listen and provide support as best we can.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |