What Should Have Been by Nate Wagner

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I lost my only sibling July 25, 2002. From that day forward I found myself grieving the loss of the memories that I longed to have. This impacts me to this day. I want to offer hope that you can become stronger through this loss. The number one thing I did after losing my brother to suicide was to journal. During the first six months after my loss, I often wrote my raw emotions. This was not easy. I now realize that it was courageous. It was necessary and so helpful. I don’t think I would be where I am today without my journals.

I find that it is difficult to continue to grieve the reality that I can’t have a relationship with my brother. I also realize that my current relationships are impacted by this loss. I find that I am not satisfied with surface level conversation. I want that deep relationship. Not everyone understands this and it is difficult to communicate.

The greatest hope I have to offer those who are recently going through a suicide loss is the idea that each of us go through  loss at a different pace. We can’t rush things. I realized that I needed to go through my emotions. Sometimes this was incredibly difficult.

An illustration that really helps me think about this is the effort that it takes for a new highway to be built that needs to go through a mountain. I can only imagine how much effort and specific attention is needed to make that happen. This is similar to my own journey through this grief. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. No one wants to do the work, but I’m the only one who can do it.

If I could only share two things that helped me in my journey I would talk about the importance of journaling and how important exercise was to my recovery. I didn’t always want to go for a walk or run, but it was very helpful in providing the energy to do the rest of my life.

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I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the summer break before my senior year of college. It rocked my world and almost immediately took away my energy. Any type of exercise helped provide the energy and the strength to do what I needed in my classes.

Going back to college and finishing school was a great decision for me. I believe that if I would have stayed at home I would have felt sorry for myself and I would have been stuck in my grief. Taking that step and going to back to school even if it meant I needed to drop a few classes so I could make it through was worth it.

I know that my choice to go through, not around, my grief and my emotions is what helped me to become who I am today. My mission in life is to help those who are going through suicide loss.

I am a therapist and I am in the final process of writing my memoir called Sibling Suicide: Journey from Despair to Hope to be released in September 2016.

20 Responses

  1. Heidi
    | Reply

    Nate,

    Journal & Pace – huge! I recognize & relate. My darkest loss & deepest hope began January 18, 1992.

    Thank you for sharing…
    Heidi

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      I’m glad to join you in your journey. Your welc.ome. It is my honor to share.

  2. Dianna
    | Reply

    I am looking forward to hearing more about your book. I know siblings of those who suicide are often called the “forgotten” mourners because many people focus on comforting the parents, spouse, etc. I have a sibling to share this grief with; I can’t imagine going through it alone like you did. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Gay Kaylor
    | Reply

    I am continually amazed by your strength and commitment, not only to work your way through the emotions of your loss but also to have deep and meaningful relationships in your life. I am proud of you and proud to be your friend!

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      Thanks so much for reading Gay. It’s been my honor to walk with you through your grief as well. Thanks for being my friend!

  4. Friend
    | Reply

    Exercise was key for my daughter when she lost her 26 year old boyfriend to suicide. He suffered from military PTSD. I suggested journaling but I don’t think she did that. She did read a lot. A suicide loss support group helped immensely and grief counseling. So sorry for your loss.

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      Hi Friend :-), journaling isn’t for everyone, but it really helped me as well as exercise.

  5. Joann
    | Reply

    Great suggestions everyone can use. I lost my only child almost 2 years ago, and remember it like yesterday. I am getting professional help for myself and it helps me a lot. I do journal, but not faithfully, instead I look for inspiration in short passages, God, and this website. I have 3 people who also help me when I am in the pits of grief.
    Thank you for writing this, we all need support from each other.
    Blessings and hugs, thank you.

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      Joann, your response resonates with me. Relationships are so important. I am sorry for your loss and I’m grateful you have people you can count on for support. Not everyone does.

      yes, we all need support from each other.

  6. Sandy
    | Reply

    Lost my 65 yr old brother on July 25, 2014…..can’t wait for your book!

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      Hi Sandy, I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t wait to share my book with you. Sept 10th is my target date. I will have it published through createspace and it will be on kindle.

    • Nate Wagner
      | Reply

      HI Sandy,
      Here’s how to find more information about my book…

      Sibling Suicide: Journey from Despair to Hope

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/1533305072/ – paperback

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0GT6WP – kindle

      please let me know how I can help

  7. Shane
    | Reply

    Thank you, Nate. Your words deeply resonate with me. I too lost my brother to suicide, on New Year’s Day of this year.
    Is there a way I can preorder your book?

  8. Megan M
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this. I lost my sister to suicide 8 months ago, she was 32. I just turned 32. My father died 6 years ago, and this grief is so extremely different for many reasons. I feel like my childhood is gone, sibling grief definitely feels overlooked.

  9. Nate Wagner
    | Reply

    Hi Megan, yes, sibling grief is overlooked. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that my words provided a bit of hope for you. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Nate Wagner
    | Reply

    Hi Megan,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a club we didn’t choose to join.

    I wrote this for us.

    If you want more any more information please check out my book.
    Sibling Suicide: Journey from Despair to Hope

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1533305072/ – paperback

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0GT6WP – kindle

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