My best friend-my brother’s suicide: Grief and healing

Suicide has become such a huge part of my life.

My oldest brother Brad died by suicide on September 17, 2015, at the age of just 18.

Brad was in his first year of college at CMU, Central Methodist University, in Fayette, MO. Brad seemed to be excited about it and have it all figured out. He chose to major in computer science. He was so smart. It was only about a month that he had been in college before we lost him, forever.

It all happened so suddenly. Brad struggled with anxiety. I remember a couple weeks before; he had picked me and my twin brother up from our dads and seemed completely different than his normal goofy self. I had asked him what was wrong, and he explained to me about his anxiety getting the best of him. At the time, I wasn’t sure what anxiety was and he had told me it was when you can’t stop thinking or control your thoughts.

I had felt a tear run down my cheek because my older brother seemed to be a different person.

Though what I hadn’t known was the severity of it. I would later find out things leading up to Brad’s suicide that can now be considered warning signs.  

Brad was my best friend. “Our thing” was watching South Park together and talking about the drama of middle/high school. He was always so wise; telling me not to worry about how many friends I had or if someone didn’t like me because it wouldn’t matter once I left. Brad had a heart of gold, making sure to include me, the only girl, in video games with my other brothers. In fact, he would beg me and eventually convince me when he would tell me I could be on his team.

I grew very close with Brad. He shared his secrets with me, took me on candy runs, played his guitar and sang for me, and even though it took some convincing, I got him to take “selfies” with me. He had many nicknames for me.

I considered him to be my very best friend.  

My mom made dishes for Brad to take back with him the same day he picked us up from my dad’s. She said he hadn’t been eating because his anxiety wouldn’t allow him to go to the dining halls. I learned later that Brad stayed at home the week of his suicide. My mom and Robbie (his dad) did precautionary things in case something like this happened. Mom had told me Brad came to her work and spent the entire shift with her talking about what was going on. Brad was in pain mentally. The day we lost Brad was an early morning. I was only 12 years old and in the 7th grade. I remember sitting in Mr. Kirby’s class as if it was just another day at school when the secretary came in and told the teacher I would be leaving. I was confused because I wasn’t aware of any appointments I had that day, but I went along. The feeling I felt when I reached the door of the counselor’s office was like nothing I had ever felt.

I could feel my heart completely drop to the floor and my head start spinning out of control even though I hadn’t even made it completely in the room.

I then saw my grandparents, Barbara and J-Bob Kendrick, sitting down at a table with tears streaming down their faces. I could hear the panic in their breathing. This worried me even more. I had been having nightmares for weeks of something bad happening to my family. I was in a constant state of worry so you can only imagine what I was thinking.

My grandma had told us the news and I felt my knees give out as I watched my second oldest brother, Tyler, punch the wall, and Cecil break down in tears at the table. We all had our own reactions and to this day I can remember that feeling as if it were yesterday.

After we heard the news, I started to wonder how in the world Brad had got a gun into the college, but I later learned he was at home. After we calmed our emotions down a bit, we walked out of the school and went home. I didn’t know what to do. I sat on my bed in constant thought of every memory we shared. I wondered if I could have done something to prevent Brad from going through with suicide. In fact, the night before I knew my mom was worried. She had asked me to call Brad because she couldn’t get him to answer. I had tried to call him but there was no answer, so I decided to text him a few times. I had told him mom was trying to get ahold of him and was freaking out. He texted me back saying he had talked to her, and he was okay. I left it at that.

After he was gone, I felt like it was my fault because I didn’t do more. The thought that I should have called him a million times until he answered, played over and over in my mind.

I know it wasn’t my fault, but I didn’t know why he did it. That’s the reality of suicide. You don’t know why, and you won’t ever know why.  

After we laid Brad to rest, the sadness was still as intense as the day we heard the news. I felt like I was in a haze that day, as if I wasn’t really there. In fact, nothing was the same. I was trying to grieve but at the same time trying to understand what had happened.

I felt the pain change my mental health for the worse. I was scared to talk about how I was feeling because I knew my brothers and sisters, my mom, and Robbie were feeling their own pain and I didn’t want to be selfish. So, I tried to stay silent, but it was too much for me. I couldn’t sleep without having nightmares, go to school without crying the whole time, or control my thoughts from going completely dark. I would eventually have to talk to my mom about what was going on. She understood, but I hated to see her cry. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

I often wondered why it wasn’t me instead of Brad.

My brain was telling me I didn’t have any good features, but Brad was funny, smart, wise, had the most contagious laugh and smile, had the voice of an angel, and was so good at everything he did. At the moment, I believed this.

I hated myself. Nobody around me understood how I was feeling so I pushed them all away; losing all my friends and going day to day mad at the world.

I was so negative. I didn’t want to hear anything positive because my thoughts would take control and change it into something negative.

Though I was in counseling and went to a psychiatrist for medication, it felt like a Band-Aid cure.

I didn’t have any hope I would ever get better. This would go on all through high school. I learned how to put a brave face on but negative thoughts still controlled my life. The regret, grief, anger, and loneliness had a grip on me, and I went day to day just going through the motions.  

I have always been heavy in my faith but during this time, the devil was controlling my thoughts.

I still went to church most Sundays with my mom and listened to her read a chapter from John with me every night. I just couldn’t understand why  God took Brad from us, why He would allow this to happen, and why He hadn’t changed Brad’s mind.

I was angry at God.

I often would come home, lay on my bed in tears, and yell at Him. I blamed Him for not saving Brad. I just didn’t understand. But the truth is, God doesn’t have any evil in Him. He is perfect. He didn’t take Brad from us. I truly believe Brad is in Heaven and I know he is the most perfect angel. I know with my whole heart, before Brad pulled the trigger, God wrapped his arms around Brad and told him it was going to be okay. That he understood and told him he could come home. He knows our every thought and our every move before it ever even happens. There’s no chance God did anything to cause this suicide to happen.

In fact, when you’re suppressed in your thoughts, it’s hard to think of anything other than negative thoughts. You’re weak during this time and the devil takes advantage of this.

Satan is the one who encourages thoughts of death. God never tells anyone to kill themself. God NEVER wants someone to kill themself.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have LIFE,

and have it to the FULL.

Jesus is waiting for you to come to Him with all your worries, fears, and troubles. He knows it’s hard. He forgives you for your wrongful thoughts, for your harsh actions, and I know He has forgiven Brad too. Go to God. Pray to Him about what’s going on, He wants to hear from you, even though He already knows, He still listens. He loves you. Look in your Bible for the chapters that help with depression, sadness, grief, overthinking, or anything you are struggling with. He tells you what to do, what not to do, and how to go about it.

God has given us the Bible as a physical representation of Himself. It’s His Word for how to live our life in every situation.

This is truly the only way I have healed, knowing I will see Brad again.  

This experience has taught me several ways to cope, good and bad. I know now that I can’t control situations and that I have to trust God.

Thoughts of suicide are often hidden in plain sight, and this is scary.

It is forever and there is no reverse switch.

Putting your happiness in objects, other people, or activities won’t last. You will end up right back in the same dark hole.

The best thing to do is to open your heart to our Lord. He is the only one who can help. He knows you and wants to help.

Seek others around you who can help you to open your heart. Dive deep in your Bible, finding God’s Word for every situation in life, good or bad. Pray and tell Him what’s going on, how you’re feeling, ask for his forgiveness, and put your trust in Him to help. He will answer. He never fails. Don’t feel guilty if you have to go to counseling or take medication, it doesn’t make you weak. Though these are not going to heal you, they are only going to give you a little push. I always loved to journal when I couldn’t control my thoughts. This helped me because I couldn’t see my counselor 7 days a week, so I was able to write down my feelings and then talk about them with my counselor at our appointment. Don’t isolate yourself, instead force yourself to run to the gas station and get a snack, take a walk down the road, or ask a friend to come over.

You can always turn to Jesus, He is always there to help you CHOOSE LIFE.

Montana Masterson is a second year student at Missouri State University majoring in pre-medicine biology. Montana is involved in campus ministry, through which she recently completed Kaleo, a discipleship/leadership training program. During the 9 week course,  students began with evangelizing to random people by sharing a line from the gospel with them. While overcoming her fear of this practice, it became her favorite experience. As the weeks passed, the Bible training and learning what it means to be a Christian, the Holy Spirit was so evident in each person she was surrounded by. “I felt like I was finally able to climb out of the dark hole I had been stuck in for so long. I couldn’t believe the amount my heart grew during the time I was there. I felt the closest I have ever felt to God. The power of Christ healed my heart. While there is still sadness and longing to see Brad again, I know with my whole heart that God is taking care of him, and I will see him again.”



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