What I Would Have Told My Brother Before He Died By Suicide

By Nicole Faye GoldenJune 1, 2021

This piece mentions the topic of suicide and suicide loss. Please use your discretion.

A friend texted me, wondering if she could ask a personal question. Nervously, I replied, “Sure!”

I’ve been asked all sorts of questions, but this one actually took my breath away: “If you could have told Eric anything if you had known what he was thinking, what would it have been? I feel horrible asking you this, but I’m in a bad place in my mind. And I just keep thinking, ‘what would someone say?’”

Deep breath.

My brother Eric died by suicide on January 4th, 2019, after battling an opioid addiction while pastoring at multiple churches in Texas.

I’m sure Eric had several mental health issues, but he couldn’t stick with counseling or rehab long enough to get a diagnosis or to take the necessary steps to heal. We would talk when he wasn’t doing well and he’d be honest. He was angry. Hurt. Confused. Distracted. After he died, I wondered and still wonder if I could have done more. That’s why suicide is such horrific trauma to walk through—because while you know that person made their own decision, you are left wondering what you could have done to prevent it. You will think back to every negative conversation, all the times you thought about calling or texting and didn’t, the opportunities you had to spend time with that person and you just couldn’t, you will go back over every scenario.

Right after Eric passed, I was in a session with my counselor, and I told him there were so many things I would have said and done differently. So he had me tell him what I would have told Eric. The process was therapeutic. And what I told my counselor, what I wanted to tell Eric, was what I shared with my friend…

“E, I love you so much. You need to know that you are not your demons. You are battling some dark stuff because you feel broken, just like me, just like everyone. And while I know people expect a lot out of you, you don’t have to pretend anymore. You can get help and heal and I will be with you every step of the way reminding you that who you are is not what you do. People shouldn’t be surprised that you aren’t perfect and don’t have it all together.

We grew up in a really restrictive, harsh environment where you got the brunt of people’s judgment and anger. You never felt like you could truly be yourself. You never felt the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them. The condemnation was too much to bear sometimes at our ages, and so lying was a form of escape. You, like me, learned that pleasing people and being well-liked was a way to avoid judgment and feelings of worthlessness. I don’t know that you ever truly knew who you were. But I know you. I’ve always known you. You love Jesus, you love your wife and kids, you love people. You absolutely love people. You will do just about anything for the marginalized—I think because you personally know how it feels. You are so freakin’ funny, and thoughtful, and kind, and intelligent. I know you have big dreams to help people just like you, who need to know they aren’t alone and that they have second, third, and fourth chances.

You’ve told me you don’t know how you’ve gotten here. But I know: You’re hurting. You don’t feel safe. Just tell me how I can help you feel safe. I know this isn’t the end for you. You can climb out of this dark hole one step at a time, and you don’t have to do it alone.

You are hurting and you feel so exhausted from fighting. You don’t think you have a fight left. But there are people who are willing to fight with you. There are people who want to fight with you.

The enemy knows you have a story worth telling, and it wants you to give up. To give in. Please don’t do it. I know you can beat this. I love you more than you know.”

If I had the chance, that’s what I would have said to my brother. And if you are contemplating suicide, remember: Your story isn’t finished—but you have to make the choice to keep writing it.

For more from Nicole, visit her website or follow her on social media at @nicolefayegolden.

Whatever you are facing, there is always hope. And we will hold on to hope until you’re able to grasp it yourself. If you’re thinking about suicide, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor.

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Comments (8)

  1. Tammy Copland

    Oh my Im sobbing. I never realised till reading this I feel like I need someone to say this to me. Im not an addict but I do have PTSD and anorexia. I people please to be liked doing things I dont want to because I’d rather be hurt than hurt others. Life is a struggle, its pain all the time. I want to be dead, so very much, but I have 3 kids who in turn only have me, so I keep going for them because I can’t bear being thecreason they hurt. I will save your blog and read it when ever I get to low, just to remind me I have to carry on

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      We are so glad you found Nicole’s story and words, and that they spoke to you. You deserve to hear these words and to feel seen and cared for. We’re sorry that life has been challenging and you’re dealing with such heavy emotions but we hope knowing how grateful we are for your presence and your honesty helps to lift a bit of that weight.

      You can always reach out to our team at [email protected] if you need a space to share, or we encourage you to check out our FIND HELP Tool to locate free or reduced-cost mental health resources near you: twloha.com/find-help

      You are worthy of hope and help. Please reach out for the support you deserve.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  2. Laura S.

    I feel this in so many ways. I lost my brother to suicide 10 years ago. He was an addict and alcoholic. He was more than that, bigger than that, but he was fighting his demons alone and no one knew it.

    Reply  |  
  3. Gail Ranieri

    Thank you for sharing. This app helps so much to break that feeling of isolation. Just knowing others qare dealing with same issues I am faced with, a day at a time, is truly life saving. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  4. Pamela

    I lost my brother Francis,to suicide & I wrote ,later an Rx.for him on a make believe pres.pad,that had just 4 sentences.It began with ,Rx.for Francis/Refill 24 – 7- 365 days yr. & every min.of every hr.The pres.reads , ” I am here.You are fine the way you are.Together we will get thru this.I love you”…..The word here most imp.is *We*…..so much ,so often ,prof.& personally everyone offers ” words”,advice etc.but then you leave & all the responsibility is on you ,me to just apply it,..alone.Depression is cruel.It is stigmatized & offers ….
    Shame,like that exists in my family & served on a silver platter You are reminded that this is all your fault,your lack gratitude,you have a neg.attitude etc.Stigma,Shame,Silence equals Isolation.( For self preservation,in my family).Francis did ask for help.He sought funds to enter a hospital.He actually called & asked our parents.They refused,Depression is not real,& financially not a wise investment. (he was not an alcoholic nor addict – but I wish he was ! as may be they would of responded ?)Shame & shame &blame on an invisible illness.I now am fighting in silence but slipping away.I have asked for help proff.etc.& The response is always words ,words.,from those who use the same old,ready made book responses ( I was a former school psychologist& was,am diff.) I am existing but want to live ,and try & try ,if only I knew how.??I wish my Rx for Francis someone would prescribe for me.At 59 I am losing hope,& my traumatic life of secrets continues to hold me as a hostage.( I heard your talk on the podcast of trauma survivors thrivers & Your words & passion but my heart.I sense you really care& understand traumatic trauma & emotional hell & alienation.I began with my brother than ran on to me .I want to live but have no one to trust,that I can be me with.Thank you.Pamela

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      Thank you for sharing this. We know how much strength and vulnerability it probably required of you.

      We would love to send you the same message that you sent your brother Francis. You are fine the way you are and we will get through this together. Please know that you can email our team at [email protected] to share more. We would be honored to offer you some support and encouragement.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  5. Ian

    I definitely feel the people pleasing part as an autistic trans person who hides myself to make me more likable. I want to chose to keep writing my story.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      It can be so difficult to exist authentically when society encourages us to mask who we are. You deserve to exist as you are, Ian.

      Reply  |  
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