When A I Loved One Commits Suicide


It has taken me nearly a year to deal with the suicide of my play little brother Matteo.

I felt like shit when I first learned, nearly a year ago. In fact, I just laid on the floor and cried. When I saw that I had a phone call from a 510 number late on a Sunday night, I knew something was wrong; no one calls me from home that late unless something is wrong.

The day after I learned he passed, I still taught my class, but I mentioned to my students that someone close to me died, someone who was around their age.

Then I went to Ben’s with Jerm the Perm to eat wings. #NOTtheappropriatewayofdealingwithaDeath.

It really felt like shit to be there for my students, but not be able to be there for someone that I consider to be family, and I’ve held on to that until I went to Oakland three weeks ago and formally grieved his death.

You see, Matteo and I were close because I baby-sat him when I was in high school. When I say baby-sat I mean, 8 hours on Saturday, and 8 hours on Sunday. 16 hours per weekend for most of high school.

I had just spoken to Matteo last August right before comps, just to catch up. I am glad that I was insistent about making a point to meet speak to him and find out how school and work was going. I remember sending him a few text messages in order to set up a time. Normally, that process annoys me, but I did it, it felt right.

What was useful about grieving the loss of him in Oakland, is that I finally came to understand that he was in so much pain, and was ready to go then there was nothing that I could do about it, unless he wanted help. At the same time, I wish, if he were in that much pain, that he would have reached out to me.

So, while I was in Oakland, I made a short movie and walked around his/our old neighborhood. It was then that I felt better. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. But there was something cathartic about walking around the neighborhood and remember which street to avoid because they had two pit bulls in the yard and which house had the great garden tended by the Vietnamese grand mother.

After I made the video, I walked down to the Farmers Market and I saw someone who looked just like him, tall, White, early twenties, box jaw, I almost jumped out of my fucking skin. But I suspect that that is simply apart of the process. I just bought some fancy pesto and kept on walking.

Have you ever dealt with the loss of a loved one?

What was your process?

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  1. Susan says

    My best friend, mentor, and unofficial partner killed himself around 6 months ago. He had made a few attempts before that. While he was alive, I tried very, VERY hard to help him. I put so much of my time and energy into it, that I feel abandoned, used, betrayed, manipulated…

    Mostly, I just screamed and cried a lot and could barely pay attention in grad school (for social work… he wrote me a recommendation to get me into this program). I had to make peace with the fact that it was HIS decision, and not about how much I cared.

    Having dealt with other stigmatized crises, I thought death would be different. No. It wasn’t. Most didn’t know about it, couldn’t acknowledge it, didn’t talk to me.

    Mostly I got very bitter and angry and refused to see the good in the rest of the world, or in other people. I became a mean, angry person. How could good people like him suffer, and yet all these unworthy people remained? If he was just going to die anyway, why did I bother? Why bother caring about anything at all? Why talk to anybody, if they’d all just die?

    I’m coming out of that, now. I have to reconcile my feelings, and about everything I won’t ever know. Why he couldn’t just pick up the phone and call, instead of sending me a farewell email before overdosing?

    Suicide is different from other grief, I’m told. I wouldn’t know, it’s the only kind I’ve had thus far.

    I’m sorry your play little brother died. Nobody understood all the things Rob was to me (former teacher, mentor, friend, inspiration, lover). You might not “get over” this loss, so it’s just a matter of living with it. That’s what they tell me, at least.

    Anyway, sorry about this rambling. I do that a lot, because there’s still a lot I have not processed.

  2. Renina says

    You have no idea. I am glad that you found the post and that you found it useful.

    Dealing with a suicide of a loved one is UNLIKE dealing with any other kind of death.

    Making the video really helped me and interestingly enough, I had not idea that it would
    be so useful, I just kind of did it.