Grief is something which is both mysterious, scary and powerful. It can change people in ways we can’t possibly fathom. It can either make a small dent in a person’s life or it can bring a person to complete and total ruin, grief is natural, but also unfair and when grief effected me, I found it to be a very difficult demon to face.
It all began in August 2016 when I came home from a long and arduous security shift at work, I was already tired and still in a little pain from dropping my bike after skidding on a wet patch of road on my commute (Never a pleasant experience!) I was generally just drained and glad to be off my motorcycle and out of my work clothes, I gave my Fiancée a kiss and my Daughter a hug, and plunked down on the couch. I reached for my phone to check my usual social media for any updates whilst I was at work, Emails, Facebook, twitter, etc. But there was a chat head that had popped up that I didn’t recognize, I clicked on it and noticed it was from an old flame of my closest friend and blood brother, Rob.
What I was about to read within that chilling message would be the haunting words that would change my life and send me in a downwards spiral, well, at least one contributing factor of the many things that spiralled me downwards.
It read something along the lines of “Hey, don’t know if you still talk to Rob or anything but I thought I’d let you know he killed himself yesterday” now at first I thought this was a sick joke so replied with “You gotta be joking’ me right?” but her response of “He hung himself, guess he just couldn’t face it any more” Both that and a status from his Sister saying she can’t believe he’s gone set it all in stone for me, this wasn’t a joke no matter how much I wished it was a cruel joke, but it definitely wasn’t.
My best friend, my brother in arms, my confidante, my partner-in-crime, was gone. Even now typing this very story out I still can’t fathom it, but there I was my phone sliding out of my hands, falling to my knees and tears streaming down my face and feeling completely numb at what I’d just read, I kept repeating it over and over in my head but it wouldn’t sink in. Rob had committed suicide over some personal issues that had been plaguing him for months now turning him slowly into the shell of a man he used to be, but I never thought it would end up like this, even my fiancée was in shock
as she’d met him a couple of times before, I am grateful for how she held me that evening, her shirt absorbing at least a pint full of my tears.
She cried too, she missed him too, but not like I did. I cried like a baby and when I finished crying a good solid hour and a half later, I was just sat there shell-shocked, staring at the last photo we’d ever taken together. I couldn’t focus on anything, I didn’t want to, I just grabbed a litre bottle of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Pepsi (Rob’s favorite drink, and our favorite pastime activity) and began to pound it down listening to our favorite songs until I threw up and passed out, my fiancée carried me up to bed and I apologized the next day, I couldn’t have asked for a better reply when she told me that it’s perfectly OK to grieve in whatever way I saw fit.
That following afternoon I messaged Rob’s parents and siblings and offered up my most humble and respectful condolences, to which was greatly appreciated. His mum even asked if I would do the honor of being a pallbearer and help carry him into the crematorium, which I accepted and in the days leading up to the funeral I had paid my respects and said the last goodbye at the funeral home where he was lying in rest, he looked so different, I was expecting suit and tie but there he was the good old Rob we all loved and knew dressed in shorts, a metal t-shirt and hoody wearing his favorite hat and sunglasses, it was almost as if he was sleeping, I’ll never forget the cold touch of his hand though.
The day of the funeral was tough, I cried a lot, found it hard to keep my composure, the wake was tough as well. I sat there for a while on my own staring into my pint reflecting on the past events, I still couldn’t believe I had just buried my brother, I wished it was all a surreal nightmare and I would just wake up and find a text or a phone call from him, but it wasn’t and I had a real hard time accepting it.
I had so much regret inside, I kept thinking that if I went up on my bike on a day off that I could’ve gotten through to him and stopped him from doing what he did, I was angry at the reasons why he took his life and angry towards the people who forced his hand. I was forever asking myself a variety of “what if?” scenarios but I knew I could never change the past.
I wished I’d said more
I wished I’d done more
I wished I took more photographs
I wished I took that ride up on my bike that day
All the regrets and guilt built up and became too much, I quit my job, I hit the beer pretty hard and I closed myself off from the world, and for a brief time, regrettably, I shut my own family out because of how I was feeling at the time,
I spent months isolated and praying to Rob asking for a sign on how I could carry on, I felt closer to his memory through songs I’d come across containing lyrics I could closely relate to, every time shedding a tear and every time drinking myself blind drunk in the process.
But towards the end it got pretty bad, bad enough to the point that the following event what you’re about to read next is the exact event that woke me up from the nightmare I had found myself in, almost an epiphany if you will, my messed up light in my twisted, darkened state of mind.
In the middle of June this year (2017) my state of mind was in such a bad place that I took a large dose of Valium pills and a few beers, and for some stupid reason decided to go for a ride on my motorcycle (The pills messed my head up that much I had a very vague memory of what I did until I found photos on my phone of where I was riding and a rollicking and reminding from my lovely fiancée)
Now yes I know you’re all reading this and thinking “What a complete moron!” but if you were in my shoes then you would have probably understood why I did it, I didn’t have any intention of ending my own life as that would be a disgrace to Rob’s memory plus he would probably have given me a beating in front of St. Peter’s Gates for being so wreck-less.
Anyway, there I was flying around the roads in the small hours of the morning, it was raining, cold and slippery. I didn’t have a care in the world where I was riding, just that I was riding and then that’s when it happened…”Crash!”
My rear wheel skidded out at a roundabout and the bike and myself skidded on the floor for a few seconds, I remember looking up at the sky from my back and thinking to myself “What the hell are you doing?!” I got up and picked my bike up, thankfully nothing major was damaged and I was still in one piece, the only thing in pieces was my heart, my mind and my pride (and probably bits of my paintwork too) I rode home carefully and parked up and went to bed.
That crash was the thing that woke me up, the moment I looked up at the sky it was like I could hear Rob saying how stupid I was and that I have a life to live and it isn’t worth throwing it away doing careless things like this “Don’t make my mistakes dude” I’d hear him say in my head it was almost like God himself gave me a warning for being an idiot.
I’m really lucky that it wasn’t more serious or that the authorities weren’t involved, but I told myself that things had to change, I had to change, but how could I make the pain go away? How could I feel better and end the grief?
It was later when I spoke to my Doctor that I learned grief doesn’t just go away, I learned that grief Is natural and it has to be managed carefully and accepted as a part of your life. For me this was done through anti-depressants and the ever-patient understanding and loving support of my fiancée.
I spent more time with my daughter and stopped drinking as much, I got back into doing security and I started to find other hobbies I could do to keep myself going, and to keep myself breathing and I told myself that I would remember to stop once in a while and tell myself that it’s okay, because Grief; no matter how mysterious, scary or powerful, is a demon worth conquering and worth embracing.
I Miss you Rob, My brother, my friend, Brothers to the end, I’ll see you on the other side.