Things I've Learned From My Brother's Death

Things I've learned from my brother's death. Lessons about life, suffering, and suicide.

Please give this your FULL attention or none at all.

A week ago today, I woke up to a phone call from my mother informing me that my brother had passed away.

These past 7 days have felt more like 7 months.

Everyone knew the day would come when we had to say goodbye but quite frankly we were all very surprised Anthony held on as long as he did. Nonetheless, saying our goodbyes was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

This experience was not similar to the battles which I have learned to overcome. Instead, this was an unexpected event that gave no warning or direction to cope.

The only solace I could find in saying goodbye, is knowing there is finally peace. All the suffering that consumed my brother for 18 years - is gone. He's free.

Now, I don't want you to think this post is my passive way of asking for your condolences. (Trust me when I say I have received more sympathy for this event than anyone could ever want.) I'm here to ask you a question.

Are you living the life you want?

Anthony may have been trapped inside a handicapped body unable to live the life of a normal 18 year old boy, but here I am, able-bodied still not checking off items on my bucket list.

Sitting in a funeral home for 4 hours, starring at my brother's lifeless yet peaceful body and watching swarms of people entering to pay their respects to my family, allowed me to fully understand the true meaning of life.

Four years ago, around this exact time, my life was in death's grasp.

When I had a moment to myself during my brother's wake - I entered another dimension and saw it to be my wake, 4 years earlier. The subtle happiness that was present with Anthony's visitors was replaced with utter despair in my visitors. I too would have been 18 four years ago, the same age as my brother at his passing. In my brother's case - he held on for too long. If it was my life that ended at 18 - people would have claimed it to be a life ended too soon.

Four years ago, I didn't think I had a choice. I thought my only option was out. 

I was willing to give up, willing to throw away everything and willing to break so many members of my family's hearts. I had no idea. Not even a glimpse of reality lived inside of my mind.

If I had taken my own life four years ago, if I had let anorexia destroy me, my parents would have had to say goodbye and bury both of their children by now.

That thought sickens me.

My parents are the only ones who pushed to keep helping me. They were the only ones who although they were lost and confused - they never gave up on me.

As for my brother, no one (not a single doctor) had a clue what was wrong with him. My parents were relentless on trying to find answers and never once gave up on finding the best possible life for him. For over 15 years my parents gave my brother everything they could have possibly given him, making sure that he was suffering as little as possible.

My parents have two incredibly strong fighters for children, but apples don't fall far from the tree.

I know in my heart there is nothing I could have done to help my parents cope with my brother's death but I could have done everything to prevent the sleepless nights surrounding my dark times.

Basically it all comes down to this...

No matter where you are right now. If you're climbing an uphill battle towards recovery, if you're sliding back into your seasonal depression, if you're just stuck and can't seem to escape the emptiness that is filling your body - know that this will end. It will end when it's time.

You are not the one responsible for ending a life, you are responsible for changing outlook on life and making positive strides towards happiness.

Figure out where you want to be in 4 years. Figure out what you would like to do within the next 4 days. How about within the next 4 minutes?

Think about it - write it down - make it happen.

Love yourself, your body, and your life. We only get one chance to make this life into something. Stop wasting time and start living the life you really want.

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Marissa Pane

New York