The following is excerpted from a presentation made at a 1996 conference, "Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention: A Day of Hope and Healing."
I'd like to share with you the tragedy that struck my family 1 year, 3 months, and 12 days ago, when my brother completed suicide. My brothers name was Marc Richard Mendelson, he died on October 15, 1994, when he was just 26 1/2 years old.
From early childhood, Marc displayed signs of emotional problems. As Marc got older, he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and a chemical imbalance that had to be monitored with medication.
The worst time of Marc's life was the last year before he died. Marc was living in Orlando, Florida, where he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. He was put on probation, which he violated for again driving with a suspended license, and subsequently wound up in county jail. The judge that Marc had been assigned to was supposed to release him into a special program that my mother had found. My brother became disappointed when he realized that the legal system in Orlando was slow and unsympathetic, as well as ignorant to mental illness. He was not treated well and did not get his proper medication. The pressure and sadness that Marc had always felt became too much for him to bear...He took his own life.
The day I found out that Marc had died was truly the most painful and sickening day of my entire life. When my mother told me the news, I began to scream in agony. It hurt so much inside that I felt physically ill from the intense sadness and pain. It shot deep down to the very bottom of my soul.
The day I found out that Marc had died was truly the most painful and sickening day of my entire life."
The year following my brother's death was extremely difficult for me. I went through all of the emotions and experienced a kind of pain that I never want to feel again. I was very lucky about one thing; I had my wonderful husband to support and love me through everything. He is a very positive force in my life and I love him very much. His encouragement led me to finally begin therapy. It wasn't until a year after my brother died that I began seeing a very wonderful therapist. After the first session, I was feeling better already. I was very relieved to have someone I could trust other than my husband, and to whom I could spill all my feelings. I started to gain an understanding for what happened. This was very crucial in the healing process for me.
I am progressively getting stronger and my days are now filled with a lot of happiness and love. The grief and sorrow are finally starting to dwindle and my life is now filled with a lot of wonderful things which I try very hard not to take for granted.
I am beginning my career as a teacher and becoming more in touch with my interests and hobbies. I can actually feel the wounds healing, and I feel more like myself again. I realize I will never be completely the same, but that isn't necessarily so bad. I have grown up; I am stronger; and I am also a better person than I would have been had I never known my brother Marc. The good things are always hidden somewhere—you just have to look for them, find them, and then cherish them.
Marc was only here to teach us how to love, how to feel, how to be compassionate and sensitive, but most of all, he passed on his angelic goodness on to his loved ones. I caught on. I was lucky enough to grasp the whole idea.
I believe my brother is in a very peaceful and beautiful place. I believe he is finally happy. The hurt and pain of losing my brother won't ever disappear, but it will subside as time goes on. I know in my heart that he is looking over me. I know that I will never physically have him back in my life, but his kind spirit is in my heart and soul. I will be guided by this for the rest of my life because I have gained the wisdom to do so