by Sarah Price. I work for LOSS and my big brother died by suicide in August, 2012.
Grief and mourning. Two simple words for some of the most complex emotional processing and journeys of my life. I look back through my personal history in reflection through a unique lens that only grief can bring. Almost 7 years later, which is simultaneously 5 minutes ago and a billion lifetimes ago, can I articulate some of this experience and perspective with others in a way I’m willing to share. To be honest, my perspective, thoughts, feelings, and all things associated with this experience continue to evolve and even change. I’m still learning. I’m still re-visiting different aspects. One of the most difficult aspects of losing my brother was the feeling that I lost myself.
A devastating loss.
I never knew what devastation was until my big brother, Mike, died by suicide in August of 2012. I was born a little sister. And even though I have 7 siblings and am little sister to 2 of my sisters and big sister to 3 brothers and 1 sister, all who I love dearly, I was always Mike’s sister. While I am still sister, I lost who I was.
My brother and I have been best friends since I was born. Mike knew how to push me to be the person he thought I could be. He has always been more proud of me and of my achievements than I have ever been. He always believed me to be better than I am. I wish I could see myself through his eyes, because I am much better to him than I really am. His energy was contagious and anyone who made a journey with him gained fantastic memories. Most of my life has been a haze of amazing with Mike by my side. He protected me, sometimes, even from myself and I was never able to do that for him. Was I a failure because he died by suicide? Was I a bad person because of our codependency?
After he died, I had to figure out who I was.
I had to ask myself, “Who am I?” Three words strung together, asking for an answer that left an aching and confusing void. Being able to answer this question has taken years and my understanding of self continues to change, sometimes grow. The answer is not simple.
I couldn’t define who I am based off other people’s thoughts. And I don’t want to tell a story of who I think others think I am. They already know how they see me and if I don’t know it still doesn’t matter. It took a long time for me to realize I didn’t want or need others to give a beginning, middle, and end or justification to their idea of my identify.
I want you to know how I see myself.
I may not change at the core, but who I am to different people will always vary. Who I am is different depending on who I have to be. I am my parent’s daughter. I am my sibling’s sister. I am my niece and nephew’s aunt. I am a survivor of suicide loss.
I am the commonality but none of those roles have the same requirements. Those roles are not interchangeable.
How others describe me.
I asked my parents to describe me in three words. They said stubborn, hilarious, and intelligent.
I asked my closest friends to describe me in three words. They said wild, smart, beautiful.
I asked previous co-workers to describe me in three words and they said direct, driven, reliable.
In my current work capacity my newest coworker described me as: sincere, welcoming, dependable.
So how do I translate those words for you and weave a picture of who I am? That is the hard part because I believe who I am morphs. I’ll share with you the best description of who I am to me.
I am the color green.
You may be thinking, ‘You can’t define yourself as the color green – that isn’t WHO you ARE!’ And to you, maybe you are right. But to me, I am the color green, because of what green means to me.
Green means go! Green is the color of my favorite jacket Mike gave me one Christmas- offering warmth, memories, and comfort when needed.
Green is the color of my satchels – carrying critical things like my insulin to keep me alive- taking care of myself, being responsible. Green is the color of life and growth! No matter where I am, who I am around, or what I am doing- I grow and I nurture my qualities into strengths. This is being green!
Green is the color that shows trees are alive and healthy. Green is shades of life- kiwi, lime, avocados tomatoes, cucumber, cornfields and soy fields, sometimes the sea.
Pine trees and grassy knolls flow into a spectrum of green and wonder- they are where you go when you need solace. 4-Leaf clovers are not just lucky, they are green and rare. That is who I am.
I am an emerald. I am green. A solid stone, shining in unique glory – standing out but still fitting in.
Green is the color of my eyes after I cry- where you can peer into and see the honesty of my soul. I am the quest for truth and honesty. Green is the color of the Christmas lights that decorate my family’s Christmas chair- shining on a cherished memory and honoring tradition.
Green is the scent of fresh cut grass after a morning summer rain. Green is knowing the difference between being ready and ripe or needing more time to bear more fruit.
Green is the feeling that I am free. It is fresh. Green is the color of life and hope.
Green is the color of my spiritual journey and finding Christ along the way. This is the color the brings brightness to the dark and lonely moments. Green is the color that saves me from self-doubt. Green is the growth that comes from unpacking my grief and seeing the flaws and beauty of all my relationships.
Green is unable to let me down, it is the moss that adds texture to the walls I cling to and pull myself up after I fall with my shortcomings. Green means go; I will always be going somewhere. This is why who I am is the color green.
If you or someone you care about are struggling with suicidal thoughts please get help. 911 | 1-800-273-8255 | text “4hope” to 741741