Did You Know? by Dianna Matzo

posted in: Uncategorized | 19

My sister Amanda…
It’s been just over two years now. Did you know when you shot yourself that you would take the whole family with you in one way or another?

Confidence in our perception of reality, hope for the future, peace in each day, and emotional and physical health, have all been stolen from your siblings. The old is gone, replaced by new, more fragile, burdened and anguished sisters.

That lovely optimism of youth and the belief that life is good and the future is bright has been undermined in your nieces and nephews. If beautiful, funny, talented Aunt Amanda could despair of life, what does the future hold for us? The old is gone, replaced by new, tentative and confused young people. Each embarking on life with skill and bravery, but with baggage that is heavier than it should have been.

The pleasure of a vibrant lush family tree has been lessened greatly for Mom and Dad. Their energy and laughter draining away. Their golden years, deeply tarnished by salty tears. The old is gone, replaced by defeated and tentative sketches of who they want to be. Valiantly moving forward but wondering what, if anything, they did to deserve this pain.

The roots and wings have been stripped from your child. First the wings, when his father left for greener pastures in this world. And then the roots when his mother left him behind in this world alone. The old is gone, replaced by a young person who, despite his valiant efforts to be strong, is navigating life by stars that cannot even be seen. The very life was stolen away from one of our sisters, whom I know you loved. Almost 2 years to the day of your suicide, she died. Not the same way you did; a heart attack in a woman not very old, the doctors said. In my soul, I know it was a broken heart. Over the last 2 years, she lost the things she valued most, starting with you, her best friend and trusted confidant.

We loved you so deeply! We miss you so much! You were our kind and gentle sister and friend, beautiful and funny aunt, the last baby born to our loving parents, the teacher and lover and partner-in-crime to your only child! Diligently, we are working through our grief, which seems to manifest itself in new ways as time goes by. They say that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” No; none of us are stronger as a result of losing you. We have built fortifications around our hearts; the older of us push through for the sake of the younger.

But, yes, we have learned to cherish each other more and lean into the time we have together. Because time is short and there are no guarantees in life. Some of us who are old enough to understand, are gentler and more engaged with the hurting and lonely people we encounter. In my mind, I want to change the world, to shout out to those thinking about following in your footsteps: “You are loved! People will miss you! You will change the lives of others you don’t even know are counting on you! Don’t believe the lies in your head!”

I ask, anew, “why?” It’s been over 2 years and I know, but I don’t know, the answer. My hope is that we will ALL see you again someday and the past will fade away into oblivion, with perfect love and forgiveness. Until then, we strive to be best we can be, the old stripped away with the new in its place.

19 Responses

  1. Mary-Jean Hunt
    | Reply

    No truer words have been written. Our family goes on, we laugh, we enjoy life and yet always there is the ache knowing he no longer walks the earth. My son’s friends say he is not the same person he was before. My heart breaks for him and there is not much I can do except show him like death does go on and happiness does exist.

  2. Denise Hairfield
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    Oh my this is very powerful. It says so much with few words. I too lost my brother about 2 years ago. He also took his own life, died by suicide. Thank you for sharing

  3. Roger Guttormson
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    How eloquently you have written of the new “normal” we all face after such a devestating loss.

  4. Evelyn
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    I lost my son 2 1/2 years ago. I lost a part of me and I cry at the drop of a hat. My husband, I think, sometimes feels like he didn’t do his job as a father. My oldest daughter is angry because of what he has done and my youngest daughter is just sad. She misses him so much. We all miss him. It doesn’t stop there. My sisters think about him all the time and nieces and nephews, his cousins have a hard time too. When one person dies by suicide it causes a ripple effect and hurts many people, family, friends, co workers, school mates etc. I hope and pray that we can bring awareness and stop the stigma of suicide and help those in need.

  5. Brittany
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    This is beautifully written thank you for sharing. I pray for comfort and peace for your family as my own fight daily to find and keep it ourselves.

  6. Diana
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    Very touching my heart goes out to your family and everyone touched by this.

    My son died almost 5 years ago 2 days after his 23rd birthday…he shot himself…My heart hurts each day as I miss him. His Dad hung himself 10 years ago 3 days before Christmas…my son blamed himself for that… so his heart was heavy full of pain. Such pain as we don’t understand what the mind will do. Peace

  7. Julie
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    What a beautiful tribute to your sister.

  8. Debbie
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    How true. The whole family is taken, one way or another.

  9. Diane
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    Beautifully written, touching and heartbreaking too. Suicide has left behind so many unanswered questions in my family as well. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Kathy
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    Very powerful and well said. I am so sorry for all the ways your family is hurting. My brother also shot himself, two years, eight months and twenty days ago (New Years eve 2014)
    Like you, my life will never be the same.

  11. Shelley
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    As a grieving mother of our dearest only son, I so relate! On March 21, 2015, our son set out to buy some last minute items for the next day birthday party of his 6 year old adored daughter. Sadly, he stopped on the Richmond Bridge and leapt to his watery death. All parts of the many lives he so inspired have been forever altered. All my personal faith has been shattered. Our daughter’s mental and physical health continues to suffer from the loss of her “baby brother.” This is a hell from which there is no escape. Only those who suffer this unique type of loss will “get it.” Wishing all who mourn lessened heartaches and peace of mind.

  12. Denise Varga
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    Thank you for writing this. It touches a lot of places we don’t want to go. Our loved ones leave a hole in our lives. Sometimes we peek down to see. Sometimes we try to fill it in with our daily lives and the people in it. The only way to overcome this awful tragedy is with the help of God and His Holy Spirit leading us. There is joy with His help. Remember God loves you and knows what you are going through. Philippians 4:7 The peace that surpasses all understanding.

  13. Alina
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    Thank you for these profound words. I lost my only sister to suicide 1 year and 3 months ago. You described exactly what this journey is like. My heart aches for her loss, and I continue to struggle with feelings of sadness over the sadness and despair she must’ve felt and never shared with us in detail.

  14. Leigh A Creasy
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    Your words touched my soul. October 4th it will be 3 years since my sister shot herself. Our whole family dynamic is changed forever. The pain and confusion that her leaving has caused only you that have experienced suicide survival will know. I hate my family’s new normal because it is a lot of the time just painful. I pray to understand one day and to reclaim some peace in my heart. Everyone in my family is still fighting in their own way. Again thank you for putting it so beautifully.

  15. Karen
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    I am also a grieving mother of my beloved son, Troy. His birthday was yesterday; he would have been. 21. I had a dear friend support me through the night. I pray that all my fellow ones who are suffering that the Lord will comfort each one so personally, and heal all our broken hearts.

  16. Iris Riewer
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    Beautifully written. My companion if 15 years ended his life this past New Year’s Eve. My life changed drastically in a split second. My pain is acute, and I miss him terribly. Little by little, I am picking up the pieces, and grateful for my family and some incredible friends. Life will not be the same; ever. It will be different, and I know that. Thank you for speaking from your heart and soul.

  17. Joann
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    I am so sorry for your loss. Your story is written with just about every feeling we encounter when we loose a loved one to suicide. My daughter died by suicide 3 years ago, and the new normal will forever be me after this. I want to tell her how many people she took down with her. The demons in her head won, and no one could penetrate her thoughts but them. I have to live with this the rest of my life. I wonder if your sister really did die of a broken heart, I would understand if she did. I wish you happier days until you meet again.

  18. Dianna
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    To everyone who has commented and may be checking back, I am blessed that it has helped or touched you in some way. I wrote this to get it “out” of my head, sent it to Brandy to see if she thought it would be helpful to anyone. I am sorry for each one of you that has lost someone you love to suicide. I especially mourn with those who have lost children, as that is about the only thing I can think of that would be harder to go through than losing Amanda. All of you who continue to soldier on and be strong for others in your life who are looking to you and counting on you: God bless you with His peace and love.

  19. Jim
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    Sorry for your loss. Very well written. I lost youngest son 3 years ago. He shot himself in his bedroom. We found him, and entered into the nightmare that being a suicide survivor is. I will never get over this, move on, or whatever worn out cliché society wishes to use for us survivors. We don’t know why he took his life, and to do so in such a violent way where his own parents who loved him most would find him. My son’s therapist trivialized his symptoms as just ADD, and mild depression. I realize now this was a gross misdiagnosis. I now believe he actually suffered with severe depression, and anxiety. In the 2 years she treated him she never discussed suicide prevention, what to look for, or even to make sure there were no guns he had access to… I found out later suicide prevention training requirements of mental health professionals are lax, or non existent in many states including mine. It is a daunting prospect this is what my life has become. I must say being a suicide survivor sucks. None of us deserved this, and there is nothing fair about any of it. For my son there is no going back, no miracles, no second chances.

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