A suicide loss survivors experience

A photo from one of many annual Swallow Falls camping trips.

“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up”

-Joyce Meyer

I could start off by introducing myself, seeing as this is my first blog EVER. To me though, it’s kind of cliché to start off anything with a “Hi my name is…”. This blog isn’t just going to be about me, it’s going to be about you, and what you can hopefully learn when you have unanswered questions following the loss of a loved one to suicide. I promise, I’m someone that can help based on my own personal experience. I hope this gets to the right person at the right time.

I have a pretty close family. Growing up in Baltimore City, my grandparents lived next door to me, my brother and my parents, then just two houses down from theirs, I had my Uncle, my Aunt and my two cousins. From the time my brother and I were born, my grandmother babysat us, and my cousins would come over to play. We all grew up more like siblings. We had our meals together, we played together, we even went to school together. My happiest memories were always with my little brother, Cailean and my little cousins A.j. and Michael. As the years went on, and as we all got older my parents decided to move away from the city, in hopes of my brother and I getting a better education. Today, we all unfortunately regret that decision.

When we first moved out of our little row home in Baltimore, and into a big five bedroom single family home in a little town called Joppatowne, we were excited to be the new kids in school. We were excited about having a big back yard and our own bathroom. We couldn’t wait to make new friends and have our cousins over to see our new home. We were excited to finish growing up in such a beautiful place.

I ended up becoming pretty popular until high school. I had a small group of friends, friends that I can say are still friends of mine over ten years later. Unfortunately for my brother, he fell victim to bullying. I remember him getting suspended from school on a few occasions for fighting, although he acted in self defense. I remember the bullying getting so bad that my parents decided to pull him out of the local public middle school, and put him into a private school. He loved that school, he loved his friends and his teachers there. He loved them all so much he even applied to a private Catholic High School where some of his friends would be going. Once again, after beginning high school, Cailean fell victim to bullying. Bullying so bad that he would come home crying, just wanting to get out. So, my parents decided to take him out of that school, and put him back into a local, public high school. Once he was back in public school, Cailean became pretty popular. He was compassionate, athletic, and very handsome. My brother was finally happy with life.

Now, fast forward to a year after his high school graduation. Cailean still had the same group of friends, they were inseparable. We all even worked for our dad! Now, I’d call that an amazing support system. In July of 2014, late at night I received a phone call from my brother. He was crying. All I could make out that he was saying was that he loved me and he was sorry. I immediately went into panic mode because my happy, successful little brother was no longer that person. I could hear the pain in his voice. Something I would never wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I called my parents, anticipating on an answer. Finally, my mom answered the phone and heard the panic in my voice. All I could get out was “go check on Cailean NOW.” I remember staying on the phone as they looked for my brother all over the house, until the reached the basement. I suddenly hear both of my parents panicking. My brother had hanged himself. We were fortunate enough that he was found in time, because he was still alive.

At the time of all of this happening, I was engaged to a man who himself was a survivor of suicide. He lost his very best friend. Someone that he knew for almost his whole life. He was firefighter, so he worked 24 hour shifts. I didn’t want to worry him, so I waited until after he came home from his shift to tell him what had happened to Cailean. Instead of going to bed, he wanted to go see my brother in the hospital with me. Now, if you’re thinking about suicide, just please pay attention to what I am going to say here, because it will hopefully help you see how loved YOU are. When I got to the hospital, my parents and Cailean‘s girlfriend were already there. My fiancé at the time and I went back to the visiting area to see Cailean sitting at a table waiting for us. He smiled so big when he saw us, and hugged me and would not let go. We sat down at the table all together finally, and we began to talk. While talking to him, I couldn’t help but notice the dark bruising around his neck. I wanted to break down and cry right there. I couldn’t help but think of the “what if’s” had I not reached my parents in time. I couldn’t imagine losing my baby brother. I didn’t want to have to imagine that. We talked for awhile until visitor hours were over, and we began heading home. I tried to hold back the tears even then, but I finally just gave in and let everything come to the surface.

Two weeks after the incident, it was Cailean’s 19th birthday. He decided to spend it just by being with his friends and going fishing. What more could a young man ask for? He was happy again.

On the morning of August 18, 2014, I woke up in a weird mood. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I ignored it, and got ready for work per usual. Once I arrived to work, my dad starts approaching me in a panic and telling me that my brother had a bit of a melt down and took his truck. I calmly told my dad to get into my car, and we would look for him. My dad knew that he was heading home, so we headed in the direction of my parents house. Once we were halfway there, my dad receives a phone call, and it’s from Cailean. I hear my dad tell him “everything’s alright bud, come on back to the shop, and we’ll get some stuff done.” Cailean comes back, and immediately comes to the office just to see me. We talked for awhile and all seemed well. All seemed well, except for the marks I noticed in his face like he had grasped his own face so hard that his nails broke the skin on his cheeks. I immediately knew things still weren’t okay. My dad came into the office, and sat down at his desk just across from mine. I began doing some invoice work, and my dad and my brother began to talk. One moment, things were fine and the next, my brother begins to scream at my father saying “FUCK THIS JOB! FUCK THIS MONEY! FUCK YOU!” And storms out. My father calmly tells me to get some files together for him, and he would take my brother home and come back for the files. They leave, and I start gathering everything my father needs. About a half hour after they had left I receive a call from my brother. I immediately answer, and he begins to yell at me. Before he hung up the phone, the last thing he said to me was that he hated me.

That is the last thing my little brother ever said to me. The last words I would ever hear utter from his mouth. Later that day, I received the phone call from my dad that he had found my brothers body in their basement. I barely remember rushing to the hospital. All I remember is the little sense of hope that they were able to save his life; until the doctor told me that I couldn’t hold him because his body was evidence. I remember yelling at my parents as we sat next to my brothers lifeless body, blaming them for what happened. I only remember the images burned into my mind that I’ll never be able to get rid of for the rest of my life.

My brother was my absolute best friend. He was the one who was supposed to be there once our parents were gone. I’ll never know what my nieces and nephews will look like. I’ll never know who he would be today. All I know is that life isn’t the same without him, and it would be even more beautiful than it already is with him here.

Rest Easy, Cailean Lee Gomez
August 5, 1995- August 18, 2014
Continue reading “A suicide loss survivors experience”

For AJ

Aj, it stands for Anthony Junior, named after his father, who also happens to be my mother’s brother. Aj and I grew up together, just a few houses apart, with our grandparents living in between. We did everything together, from going to school, to doing arts and crafts and playing tag on summer nights. As I said in a previous blog, some of my most favorite memories in life were with my brother and our cousins, Aj and Michael.

Growing up, Aj was always the neighborhood smartass, he was usually always the one getting into trouble. I didn’t understand much of why Aj was the way that he was, because I was too young to understand. All I knew that no matter what my Aunt and Uncle would do, Aj still always found a way to act out. Regardless, our family was still extremely close.

Not too long after Cailean passed away, the family noticed a change in Aj. Deep down, hidden underneath his rough, spikey edges, lied and empath. Aj easily related to those grieving my brother’s loss, always eager to help me, and my brothers friends. We’re all thankful for Aj, more than he would ever begin to know. Hopefully he reads this, and realizes he has more purpose than he thinks.

Aj has struggled with his mental health, having his high-high’s and his low-low’s. Checking himself into mental health facilities with the will to live for his beautiful little girl. Being a daddy’s girl myself, I could speak on her behalf that little girls are lost without their daddy.

Aj is young, but he’s hardworking and the most honest person that I know. Luckily, aside from his daughter, Aj was blessed with a woman with a beautiful soul. Sabrina- just so you know, we’re all thankful for you. You’re a bright light that has entered Aj’s life, which has also illuminated the entire family. You remind Aj that he is worthy, that he does matter, and that when he is feeling hopeless, you’re there to restore his hope. We love you.

Aj, you’re a warrior. You’ve won battles that you thought were impossible to beat. You have a strong army standing behind you, and will continue to help you with your fight. Let them be reminders that love is real, and it conquers all. We love you, Aj. Never forget we will continue to fight any battle you’re in with you.

Take A Look Around You

I too have had those same thoughts as you. How I thought everyone and everything around me would be better off if I would cease to exist. They linger, sometimes even for days, weeks and months.

I used to just lie in bed, thinking about how alone I was in my thoughts and how I thought no one would ever understand how I felt. Sometimes I was too ashamed to seek help, afraid that I was just an “in the moment” case for doctors. Let me reassure you that is not the case. These individuals tend to wake up in the morning, ready to help because they genuinely do care. They establish a relationship with you, and spend countless hours trying to find resources for you to help you get the help you need.

Remember though, you have to be willing to help yourself. Take a look around you. You see the trees and that beautiful sunrise outside of your home? Do you feel those kisses your dog gives you out of pure love and adornment? Do you love the comforting embrace of your mom or dad when you’re having a bad day? I know I do. I constantly remind myself that if I were to cease to exist that I would never be able to have those again. I listen to a song on the radio that I enjoy, and remind myself that if I were to cease to exist, I would never be able to hear that sound again. If you cease to exist, you’ll never have the chance to fall in love, and you take away someones chance of being loved by a beautiful soul like your own.

If you cease to exist, you don’t only take things away from yourself, but also to those that love you and want the chance to love you. I spend my time writing these blogs to remind you that you have so much to live for. You have a purpose, and I fully believe that my purpose is to help you- my readers. If you’re feeling down and helpless, take a walk outside and take the time to feel. Remind yourself of how precious and beautiful life is- even the small things.

Your Loved One is Not Only a Statistic

I know when I first heard someone say that my brother was another suicide statistic, the anger I felt was unfathomable. I thought “How dare someone compare my little brother to just being a number.” He was much more than that to me and everyone else who knew him. My brother was compassionate, he was loving and he was selfless. No matter the time or the place, if someone needed help, Cailean was there.

A few years after I heard someone refer to him as a statistic, with a clear mind, I was able to think about it in a more rational sense. What came to my mind made more sense. If Cailean had not become one of those numbers, those seeking help would have less options. There wouldn’t be songs hitting the tops of charts about suicide. There wouldn’t be as many field advocates or foundations for those trying to seek help. There wouldn’t be more volunteers dedicating their time to crisis lines to help those in need. There also wouldn’t be as many people seeking help, because they would not have the options that we have today.

So, trust me. I know it hurts like absolute hell not having your loved one here. I would do anything just to have Cailean back. Here’s my advice. Miss them like hell every single day. Talk about them all of the time. Also, remember that because of them, there is such thing as suicide awareness. They are heroes, whether we know it or not. Now, that because of people like them, there are other people who have a better chance at life who will be able to tell their story. Without them, we stand a better chance at fighting suicide. It’s all thanks to people like our loved ones. Never forget that.

A letter to my brother; What is Heaven like?

Dear Cailean,

Is heaven as far away as we think it is? Or is it just within our reach? I’m not talking about just in a church or in a book. I’m talking about all around us. Is it like when I look at the endless sky at night and think of you? Or is it everything that we’ve ever dreamed of? Does it look like it does in my dreams when you visit me? If so, it’s beautiful.

Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I still have questions unanswered, but then there’s questions that I have been able to answer myself. I’ll never know the exact reason you decided to take your own life, but instead of using your death as an excuse to put a halt to my own, I used it as a purpose to help others. Thank you for the best memories I will ever have. When I’m asked about what my favorite part of life was, I’ll tell them it was being your sister.

Since losing you, I lost a part of myself I know I will never get back. I’m not going to search for it, because if I do, I’ll just end up lost. I’m using what’s left of me to keep going. Since your death, I’ve learned how to put myself in others shoes. I know we only see what’s on the outside, not the internal battle someone is fighting. I’ve learned to treat others with compassion and kindness, and to love unconditionally. You’ve taught me a lot in life and death Cailean, and I will forever be grateful for that.

Although I think about you and miss you every single day, I’ll wait until my time has come to meet you in the Heaven that you’re in. Until my time, I’ll keep wondering what your Heaven is like while I make my own here on Earth. Until my time, I’ll do what it takes to make you, mom and dad proud, and to make sure that they never have to endure the loss that they felt when we lost you.

I love you forever and always,