Earlier this year (February 2nd, to be exact) something happened in my life that I only suspected happened in movies; something just pretty shattering that I didn’t think I would ever have to deal with the aftermath of it. I lost a family member of mine to suicide. I remember mindlessly scrolling down Facebook as I came across the posting that my aunt made just minutes ago: “Today we all lost someone special to us….” and I couldn’t even read past that before I sent a message to her asking what happened as reluctantly as I could. Then I was told what happened, that other family members would call me to talk to me, that this was going to change everyone that ever surrounded him. After having a massive panic attack and frantically pacing around my neighborhood, it set in that this is real and others need my support more than ever. I made phone call after phone call and my emotions started to drain just thinking about the pain he was in and the pain he then caused. I started to just stay in bed because the existential dread became too much for me; how could someone make that decision and just go through with it? I’ve felt that way more than once, but the sound of my family sobbing just erases that inclination at all.
Now we fast forward to September of the same year, and I am still at moments choked up about feeling the empathy towards his last moments. Understanding that the pictures of him put up around my Uncle Paul’s house have a different meaning, that when I see someone who looks similar to him in public places that crying is a normal response. That expressing my emotions through therapy is a lot better than bottling it up and screaming at someone for something completely irrelevant. And more importantly, it’s okay to be mad/confused/sad because the way you process suicide is the way you can get through it.
Now September, I can now say his name/his story, but also my story dealing with the aftermath, to others who are either in the same position or close to it. His death has pushed me to strive for my dreams, to be more open about my mental illness and not be apologetic about it, to be more aware of the signs exhibited by others around me. I have learned through his suicide that life still goes on after a tragedy, and it gets better.So, this Saturday I will be walking in memory of Josh at the Out Of Darkness: Suicide Awareness Walk location in Beverly, MA and all other family members that have felt through the pain it is to lose someone to suicide. I will be remembering all the jokes he would make that were obviously inappropriate for children to hear, but he didn’t care or how he freaked out on me because I didn’t know who Jimi Hendrix was, so he spent the whole night pulling up different vinyls on Christmas Eve. I have just the memories now, but I will try my hardest to bring awareness to others so more people have the person rather than just the memories. We all miss you.