Hi there ... my name is Kim and I'm new to blogging, so I'm very excited and truth be told, a little nervous to share about a topic that has become beyond near and dear to my heart. It happened to me, to my family ... I didn't want it, didn't know a thing about it beforehand and wish I could go back to that blissful ignorance I had then. It's changed me and my life in almost every single way, good and bad, and yet ... I am still me. It doesn't define me, but it's certainly and forevermore become a part of my story. "It" was the death of my brother Jon, by suicide.
I'd like this blog to be about my experience, my family's experience of dealing with this loss, the journey since then (a journey that never ends) and hopefully, a platform to share what we've learned along the way to perhaps save someone else this pain and/or ... be a listening, understanding ear for someone who finds themselves in my same, exact spot.
I know suicide is a VERY very hard subject for so many people, especially if their lives have been touched by it, somehow. Even if they haven't been affected by suicide at all, it's just not a topic people like or choose to think about much. Myself included, before Jon died this way. Blissfully ignorant.
A little about me, to start with. I grew up in Wakefield, graduated Wakefield High, commuted to Salem State for a BS in Communications. Then I started working in my field, got married, bought a house, had two kids. A normal, middle class upbringing. Nothing tragic had ever really happened in my family, save for an uncle in Michigan dying in a small plane crash. We were - and still are - very normal.
The only thing different about my family was that when I was 10 years old, my only sibling was born. My brother Jon was born in February, and I turned 11 in April. He was my show and tell in Mrs. Yessian's 5th grade class! Because of our age difference, Jon and I had sort of different childhoods it seemed, although raised by the same parents. We didn't fight, but we didn't "hang out" much either because we were just into very different things. Me going to the prom while he was into Hulk Hogan wrestling & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. Me choosing wedding gowns while he was starting high school. You get the idea. However, the older we both got, the less the age difference seemed to matter. And once I had my first daughter, followed by my second two and a half years later, we absolutely grew closer because Jon SO loved those girls and was amazing with children.
In high school and after, Jon had some personal struggles and stressed my parents out quite a bit now and then. But, by no means would anyone have called him a "problem child." Immature, a bit of an introvert and maybe even a late bloomer? Perhaps. But never a derelict, a young man destined for a life of crime or the like. He was just too sweet, too caring for that. That smile lit up a room.
So, at 27, after a few years of varied disappointments, some big, some seemingly not quite so big, Jon seemed in a bit of a rut, but poised to rebuild again. I know it may seem nuts to say, but NEVER, (then) ... NEVER at the time did we expect Jon to kill himself. Now, with knowledge we only know NOW and didn't know then ... now we can see that perhaps Jon was an expert at hiding his pain, his depression, that side of him that he only shared in his last communication with us. And maybe, he was hiding it for many many years. Hindsight is of course 20/20 ... so with our newfound (but again, unwelcomed) knowledge, I guess I could pick out some warning signs that Jon may have exhibited prior to his death. Even so, I'm not so sure I would have worried about him taking his own life. You just don't think that would ever happen!!!
But, it did. The days afterwards were ... a blur. I'll save some of that for a future blog, because some of our experiences then are vastly different than what others have experienced, and it's important to know what can help and what can devastate.
What I also will detail in a future blog is what is standardly accepted in suicide prevention as warning signs, risk factors and how someone - anyone - can help someone at risk. I know this info because of one of the changes I mentioned above; I now work in suicide awareness and prevention and am pretty darn sure I will do so for the rest of my life in some fashion. I'm a Training Facilitator and I get to go around and teach about suicide statistics, prevention and awareness. I am beyond honored and humbled to be able to have this job; that's an amazing story for yet another blog. :)
Suicide has a horrible stigma surrounding it - for those who've attempted and their families, for those who've been lost to suicide, and for the families left behind trying to make sense of it all. Every 14 minutes in this country, every single day, there is a family left saying "What the heck just happened? And ... WHY??????" So, I hope that by sharing a bit about what I've learned in the past two years, I can help others learn how to love on those hurting people dealing with all the why's, the what does this mean's and the now what's.
And its not all doom and gloom. AMAZING and I mean jaw droppingly amazing things have happened since Jon's death. Amazingly wonderful things, amazingly unforeseen things and amazingly funny things too. So, I hope to make you smile along the way as well. Cliche maybe, but good things DO come out of the absolute worst things, especially when you look for them. Would I give all those good things away to have Jon back? Yup, in a flash. But ... I can't. I can't change what I can't change. But what I do from here on out? That's where I have some say, right?
Thanks for reading. I have lots to share, so ... I hope you'll come back. :)