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Be Forgiving. It Isn’t Easy

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It is January again, and soon January 26th, that awful day when my brother chose to end his life and committed suicide.

People tell me “you recover in time”, but you don’t. Yes, you recover from other, more normal deaths. From illness or old age, or more expected deaths, difficult as they are, but a suicide is almost impossible to get over. It is as if my brother were a hungry ghost, walking the house, uneasy and unable to rest, or unable to let him rest because there is still so much that I have to say.

I want to slap him with one hand and stroke his face with the other. I want to be a comfort and a fury, because part of me is still angry. How to forgive the person who, once upon a time, told me that this was not an option? That no matter how depressed I was, suicide was “never a way out” and that we learn to live with our pain because it almost always invariaby passes.

He was right, of course. I have suffered great pain in my life – cancer, deaths, my own other serious illness, Richard’s suicide, and yet I got through them and I lived. I remember going through a divorce and thinking for certain that I would never be happy again. That the world would go on spinning but that I would stay still and that was fine with me. The wind on my face? Hah. Who cared about it.

A friend told me I would feel better. I thought of her as Pollyanna at the time; I thought she was being ridiculous and did not understand the magnitude of the pain I felt, yet she did. She did and she was right. I somehow miraculously overcame that major depression and though others would follow over the years; I always knew that they would end.

As for my brother, he ought to have known the same, and lord knows, he did. But this time, he told us in his note, the pain had built up too much. He was tired of getting over it, of having things to get over. He was just plain worn out, and it didn’t help that the woman he loved had recently left him and yet was still having an affair with him but would not leave her new and rich husband. I can’t blame her, though, for his death. She did what she did and while as a sister, as a protectant, I want to tell her how wrong she was to do what she did, I cannot blame her for my brother’s death.

Sure, I’ve blamed myself at times – sometimes I even blame myself now, but at the end of the day, it is to him that I return, for he alone pulled that trigger. Small comfort that he did it in the bathroom and had a photograph of he and I and our dog at his side. That he took all of his “security blankets” – photos, trinkets, etc – and looked them over, turning them in his palm one by one, for who knows how long before he decided enough was enough and pulled the trigger?

We do know that the last thing he did in that bathroom, before shooting himself, was to call his girlfriend one last time and beg her to leave this man whom really, she did not love. She had left Richard because he would not marry her – because he did not believe in marriage (and if you came from our family, you might not either). But even this seems a flimsy reason to break up. After all, isn’t marriage in the heart? Isn’t it a commitment that you make to each other, regardless of a piece of paper; it is truly what you feel and while legitimizing it is often a good thing, I can understand his reservations.

He’d seen it end very badly and he’d seen it, as did I, played out like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, drunk and fighting and bleary-eyed all the time. So no, Richard would not marry and the girl married someone she didn’t love, mostly for monetary reasons I think, continued to see Richard, because she did love him, and in doing so, screwed him up more than he was already screwed up. I should note too, that it didn’t help that he was manic depressive and not taking his Lithium, rather like Kurt Cobain who was also on Lithium, stopped taking it and then shot himself (for reasons I can’t speak to). All I can say with certainty is that obviously the Lithium factor is a big one, for when he was on it, he was a different person – optimistic, energetic, hopeful and more. When off it, he was surly, depressive, downward spiraling and impulsive.

Impulsive enough to get a gun (for he didn’t own one) that, oh boy, an idiot “friend” loaned him, not accounting for the considerations. Never once did he ask “Why?” for it was hardly a hunting rifle and Richard was not the type to hold up a bank. He could only want to “borrow a gun” for one reason that I can think of, and don’t bother defending this person because I have made up my mind. Again, I don’t blame him per se, but I do blame the confluence of events that lead to this point – the lack of Lithium (the biggest factor), the girlfriend who still loved but who left regardless, the gun loaned by a friend, and his overall state of mind and rememberance of our childhood, which was so clearly on his mind when he wrote on the mirror in large letters “FUCK YOU DADDY.”

What more is there to say than this? I wanted to share this story because I think everyone has been at the edge of that place where we consider it, toss it around in our heads perhaps, but then know we would never do it. Or there are those who flirt with it more, cutting and playing roulette with pills or pills and alcohol; there are a thousand ways to be self-destructive and to ultimately kill yourself on-purpose/not on purpose if you’re looking.

But I have to tell you: grow the fuck up. Enough of this sophmoric Sylvia Plath/Anne Sexton crap. It’s high time now you left that behind, and it’s high time that I forgave my brother because no matter what he did, I can understand the reasons why and though I often say “he stole my act” and I mean it, I see how many reasons there are to live.

I’ve had to explain all of this to my other siblings who were younger at the time, afraid that because they shared the same blood as he, that they too might try and kill themselves as if this “bad blood” coursed through their veins as well. I had to tell them “No”. I had to tell them as I’ll tell you, “Suicide is never an option.”

I want to tell you so many things, but the words do not come easy, and so for this reason, I am including the words of someone who knows far better than we and whose speech gets me through almost every day.

Thanks for listening,


Our deepest fear
is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve this world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God
that is within us;

It is not just in some of us – it’s in everyone!

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others!

Nelson Mandela – Inaugural Speech 1994

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About Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti

  • Hi Susan,

    thanks for all that you wrote. it was nice to click on the link and find support — i suppose i wrote this not just for me but because i know other people feel what HE felt and also what I feel, and he and i weren’t that different. I could easily have been the “one”; i always joke, He beat me to the punch.

    Really, there’s nothing funny though. It’s just a way of deflecting. I’m tired of going through this anniversary on my own and so i suppose i felt the need to share it. I’m not trying to air my families ‘dirty linen’ as they might see it. It’s not about that and more, why should we feel ashamed if not guilty? You get my point – you only feel shame if you’ve done something wrong, and i f you haven’t, then quit feeling shame. I can’t speak for anyone else in my family and i don’t…. i just write what i feel and can only answer to that.

    Sorry about your own problems and issues; true, nobody said it would be easy but you navigate your way through it; you have to. You don’t have any options really and suicide is not a viable option…

    thanks for taking the time out to read and to write such a thoughtful comment,


  • What a bold and brave thing you have done by revealing so much of yourself to us in this way. Your words may be just exactly what someone needs to hear at this – or some other – point in time to help them in their own personal crisis.

    My deepest sympathy and condolences to you on the upcoming anniversary of the loss of your brother in this tragic manner. As someone who has worked in the field of mental health, as well as someone who came from a very dysfunctional background and a lot of continuing issues of my own, I can, somewhat, understand some of the feelings and emotions that you brought to this revelation.

    In its simplest forms, life isn’t easy – no one ever promised us it would be and, for many, it is a very difficult journey to navigate – even with medication. I do understand your anger; it is a natural reaction to a situation that you have no control over and one that your brother’s own words led you to believe he would never pursue himself. It is often the lack of control that frustrates us the most.

    Again, I will keep good thoughts for you in the days ahead that you will find peace as the anniversary date approaches and passes, and you will be able to find comfort in remembering all of the good times you shared with your brother and not dwell on his final transition to another level of existence. Blessings to you during this time!

  • Hi Trinket:

    Thanks for the good wishes and for understanding. Too many people just don’t get it and think that a suicide is like any other death – and i have lost a lot of friends and family, but it is never the same as a suicide. I can’t explain how that works; perhaps the only analagous situation would be losing someone in a quick, unexpected way or tragic way like a terrorist attack etc. It’s so fast and unfair, but worse somehow when the person took their own life because they had a choice and the whole thing was so unnecessary – i think that’s it.

    I have forgiven my brother, which was hard because he left me here to clean up the mess and to explain to three little kids, our siblings, what had happened and to deal with our history all by myself. It was deeply unfair and i’ve oftten said, half-joking, “he stole my act.” I always figured if anyone was going to opt out, it would be I and he always told me that’s never an option – don’t be an idiot so you can see where the upset / anger would come from.

    You’re right: all we can do is hang on the best we can and get over those waves. The Dalai Lama said that he felt his life was like a great ocean and that sometimes, the surface is rought and choppy with great waves and other times it is smooth but what he said that struck me and helped me is this no matter what happens on the surface, there is always great calm just below.. That and the Mandela quote above are the most profound things i think i have ever heard which is why i shared the Mandela quote. It bears re-reading a few times to really get the gist of it, but i promise, it’s worth it.

    Thanks as ever, Trinket – you’re a gem.


  • Oh Sadi I’m sorry for what such a simple looking date on a calender triggers for you. We’ve all heard the idealistic crap when hurting & to hear, “It’ll get better.” when things just hurt- it seems alomst like mocking the pain that is very real. On the otherside though, we know it does get better. Life keeps shifting, changing & throwing us waves. All you can do is hang on and go with it as best you can.

    Once on the other side & once you’ve hung on tightly for a bit, I think that’s when we begin to see our good fortune rather than just the bad.


  • Hey Jeliel: i’m still of the opinion, in some ways, that suicide is just not an option. If it isn’t an option for by God, then it ought not be at all. But then i can’t say what’s going on in someone else’s head and so i try to be understanding.

    thing is, he and i were so symbiotic, so very cloe that it’s weird i didn’t see any signs. but then, if you really want to commit suicide you don’t go around asking for help, do you? That’s only for people who want attention, not to die.

    He obviously wanted to die and planned it carefully to teh last detail (i won’t go into it, but he planned it very carefully). I still feel that if you really want to commmit suicide then there is little that i or you can say that will change a person’s mind. They will do what they will do and that’s it… i’ve come to learn this and know that you can’t feel guilty about not doing enough because there is no such thing as ‘enough’ in certain cases…..

    it’s hard to think of Richard and i give him my love now and my understanding, but i think initial anger is expected and normal (esp according to Kubler-Ross). I don’t blame myself for feeling angry — you feel how you feel, just as he felt like opting out… this after he begged me to “never do that.” In a way i feel angry like he stole MY gig. That was MY trump card. i’ve learned that suicide hurts too many people and is never a good or right option.

    thank so much for reading,


  • Sadi, I’m sorry for everything this date makes you go through. It’s sad. I’d give you a big hug if I could.

    As a person who used to think suicide was for pussies who couldn’t grow a sack of balls to face life, I went down that big black hole myself and came to understand how one can go there and in despair the likes those who havent been in the hole can’t even begin to imagine, want to take your life, scream fuck it I want out of this game. When you get there, you couldn’t make a correct choice on any matter. You then begin to know you can’t make the correct decision, so you decide to do the contrary of your initial decision and it still ends up being the wrong choice. Understand he was in the worst of places to be. That he just couldn’t feel anymore, with too many variables to process, the brain, like a computer core, overheats and shuts down and only wishes for a big reboot. It’s hard to explain it, because it is beyond this primitive language. But he didn’t give up, he gave out.

    Take care of yourself Sadi