To All Siblings:

Let me start by saying that I am sorry for your loss. I wish that I had some magic wisdom that could help lessen your pain or accelerate your healing process. I don't. Nobody does. And everyone's experience is different. I will tell you about mine and about what I have learned and I hope that this helps some. And even if it doesn't help you grieve or heal, at least it may help just to know that you are not alone - there are hundreds of thousands of survivors of suicide.

I've learned that grieving is a life long process. I will never get "over" losing Mike and I will never get "over" the way that Mike died. Nor will I ever get "over" the pain and the anxiety that Mike suffered during his final seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months. I could live to 100 and still be grieving Mike's death. But grief does not consume or debilitate me. It is just one of the emotions with which I have to live.

I've learned that many people, including some of my closest friends, do not understand and will not understand depression, suicide, what Mike went through and what I am going through. That does not make them bad people or bad friends, just friends to whom I know I should not turn when looking for understanding and help with my grieving.

I've learned that my relationship with Mike did not end, but it certainly did change. He is in my heart and in my mind every day. Though I do not believe that Mike can read my thoughts or hear me when I speak out loud to him, I still do try to convey my thoughts to him from time to time, whether out loud or silently.

I've learned that it is ok to cry. Sometimes I cry at silly things (most recently when I was flipping channels and came across a stupid British sitcom - the Young Ones - that Mike used to love) and sometimes I do not cry even at very sad things. I have also learned not to hide my tears from anyone, including my children (my son will be 3 next week and my daughter turned 1 earlier this month). My son knows that when I cry it is because I am sad that Uncle Mike died.

I've learned that a key is expressing your thoughts and feelings to anyone who will listen, even if you have to pay someone to listen. Speak your thoughts. Write down your thoughts. Repeat yourself as often as you need.

I've learned that the questions will never go away, but I've learned to
live with them. I will never know if I could have saved Mike - I just
know that I didn't. I will never know if I was one of the reasons that
he suffered from depression or died by suicide and I don't know if
I made his depression worse or better. I will never know if I helped
Mike avoided suicide 10 years earlier and live a happier life than
he otherwise would have. All that I can do is pray for forgiveness
and try to be a better husband, father, son, brother, brother-in-law,
uncle,cousin, friend, partner, employer, citizen, etc., than I was
yesterday. In short, I've learned that you cannot change the past-
only the present and the future.

I've learned that life goes on. Sometimes I wish that the whole world would stop for a minute and acknowledge Mike's death and the world's loss of a very good man. But the world doesn't stop and our lives do not stop.

You need to grieve in your own way. You need to find peace and solace where you can. I wish you luck.

May God bless you, Brian Richards