"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit." - Bernard Williams
When I was 17 years old, the most unthinkable of events of my life took place on a Saturday in January. One that started out like any other Saturday, but would change my life and the lives of the rest of my family forever.
After arguing over Saturday morning chores, I zipped off to the local mall, more of a leisure activity with girlfriends, rather than a shopping expedition.
When a couple of hours later I returned, I knew immediately that something was radically wrong. The minister was walking down the path in front of my parents house. "What happened? Is it my father? Is it my Mother?”
No said, the grim and paled face minister, "It is Chris, he is dead.”
This would be the beginning of a whirling, incredibility, that would last for many years, and maybe does even to this day, as I tried to comprehend the “unthinkable” and find resiliency after a tragedy. How could my adorable, pesky full of life little brother be D-E-A-D? Then came the horrifying explanation, he accidentally died of autoerotic asphyxiation.
This practice, takes the lives of many young people each year. At the time, I had never heard of it, and in a pre-google world, information was hard to come by. We did not talk about how he died. I did not understand, what happened, only that he was found hung in his closet by our Mother. Imagine trying to understand an “accidental hanging” with the additional layer of the sexual context. '
It was pretty much too horrible, too confusing to grasp.
What I know is that he got the idea from a magazine and I know that all these years later this kind of tragic accident still occurs. It happens because we don’t know about it, or talk about it, we can’t warn our youngsters and often don’t know how to comfort families of the accident victims.
And so began, my experience learning to cope with the unthinkable and build resiliency.
It was the days of Elizabeth Kubler Ross "On Death and Dying” and Harold Kushner, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, books that I read cover to cover, over and over to try to understand, to cope with the grief and to make sense of the senseless loss. I tried to go in an orderly fashion through the stages of grief, you know, denial, anger, acceptance and so on but grief is not orderly and obedient, as we now know.
My journey through this loss, was and has been without a map, but more with a guide that comes from inside me.
I call the guide love, it started with the love of my little brother, it grew to a love of life and the greatest understanding of how precious it is.
My love grew to include, the good fortune of marrying the love of my life and raising wonderful children. I have chosen to live in places I love like a Carribean Island and to do the things I love, like skiing, dancing and being with my dog Ruffus. It is as though the only way to heal a broken heart is to love and be loved as much as one possibly can.
It is a journey that never ends. There are still moments of feeling as though it all happened yesterday.
As the anniversary of my brother’s death arrives, I celebrate his life, by finally telling this story. I hope that it helps prevent further accidental deaths and prevents any other families experiencing what my has experienced.
But the most important way to celebrate my brother’s life and death, is to live my own, with as much love as possible.
By Susy Giddy
Susy is a resiliency and life coach. You can connect with her on her website, www.AllAboutResiliency.com.
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