Three years ago today….
My brother Daniel, who had Type I diabetes and struggling with mental illness, went into psychosis for the last time. He took his life that night. I know without a doubt that he went to be with Jesus, and he’s now healed from his suffering.
Daniel, I can’t believe its been three years since you left. I know you’re in a wonderful place now, and no longer fighting mental battles or pricking your finger to check your blood sugar numbers throughout the day. You no longer have to feel different or be made to feel out of place by the cruel words of other people who didn’t know you. I’m sorry you had to go through so much. As hard as its been, I’m happy that you’re now healed and free. I know someday I will get to see you again, and we will all get to be together.
You are forever loved & missed.
The following is the blog post I wrote in June of 2012 in Memory of my brother.
It’s hard to even know where or how to start.
So I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
Nate and I had just arrived at the Alderwood Mall. I stopped to use the restroom and when I came out I had a missed call/voicemail from my dad. He sounded serious and wanted to me call him back as soon as I could. The only thing I could think was that it had something to do with my grandpa, who had been in the hospital with a very serious case of pneumonia the previous week.
I called him back a few times, but kept getting his voice mail. I was starting to get anxious as I was waiting for him to call back, and Nate suggested going back to the car to wait. As soon as we got in the car, my dad called. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him…..
“Ruth, something really terrible happened…Daniel committed suicide………..”
I will never forget the sound of my dad’s voice or his words when he called. My heart felt like it dropped 100mph into my stomach and all words left me….
Within that next hour my wonderful husband got me a flight the very next morning to Indiana so I could be with my family. We all needed to be together so badly.
In that 24hrs and for days to come I will never be able to express how grateful I am for so many calls, texts and messages from friends. I felt all those prayers so strongly and so did my whole family. Thank you again.
The Lord’s strength and peace has felt so deep in me and my family. It has been what has and is getting us through this process.
In my family I am the oldest and then it went Caleb, Daniel, Esther and David. For a few years Caleb, Daniel and I where a little pack who did everything together. Some of the memories I will never forget are the countless hours of building forts in the living room, and using our imaginations to have adventures. Riding our bikes on the trail behind our house, playing in mud piles, and our love for anything Winne the Pooh( especially Daniel).
Daniel was always sweet, curious and happy go lucky.
He was born on St. Patrick’s Day and I took it upon myself to every year get him a cheesy St.Patty’s Day shirt. He always wore them too. I remember the talks about how he didn’t understand why he had gotten Type 1 Diabetes and how he just wanted to feel normal.
Those are some of the memories that keep flooding my head at different times…
Daniel loved the Lord and had such a caring heart for others. He had so many dreams to help people by wanting to a missionary to Paupa New Guinea and a doctor to help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes which he was diagnosed with at age 11.
On June 6, 2012 at his memorial service my mom gave his eulogy and she did wonderful. I know it wasn’t easy for her either. Below is the video from it and I understand its an hour long, so I will only note a couple times in the service that I really feel should be shared.
1. My mom’s eulogy 14:30-30:00
2. Pastor Don Williams really great words on accepting people who deal with mental illness. I know Daniel would have agreed whole heartedly with what he said in those 2min. 40:00-42:15
Daniel, you will be forever loved and missed. I know you’re in a better place now and now healed from what you dealt with here on earth. I’m sorry you had to go through so much, but I know now you’re in the arms of Jesus. I know someday I will see you again.
~ Your big sister
On Mother’s Day of this year my mom wrote the following note that I feel is important in honor of Daniel and the pain my family has been though.
:Mother’s Day and Suicide: by Emily Boller
I grew up in a conservative, rural community that didn’t talk much about the “s” word. In fact, suicide was the tabooed ticket straight to hell, and there was no turning back from the flames.When I was a kid I remember elusively hearing about a farmer that hanged himself in his barn on a nearby farm, and another farmer in the neighborhood who shot himself. And for the majority of my childhood I rode the school bus past both farms, every morning and every afternoon; and passing by them always gave me a creepy feeling.And a good friend of mine never celebrated
Thanksgiving when she was a kid, because that was the day an uncle had hanged himself in the family homestead barn. To deny and hide the event, the adults carried on with work as any other day of the year. No Thanksgiving gatherings or traditions with family or friends were ever established from that day onward because of it. They never even mentioned his name or paused to remember his memory. To this day, she still doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and she’s older than me.I can almost bet that mental illness had something to do with those farmers taking their lives.
Suicide is a rational decision to an irrational mind; torment takes over the mind and death is imminent to relieve the pain. Maybe it was a bad year for crops, and there would be no hay in the barn or money in the bank for the winter months ahead; and an oppressive cloud of hopelessness and despair had settled over their minds. Maybe the mental illness was rooted simply in a nutritional deficiency or continual lack of sleep from helping with middle-of-the-night births of new livestock.
In sharp contrast, just a few weeks ago, on April 5, 2013, evangelical pastor and author of “The Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren, lost his 27-year-old son to suicide. Warren immediately sent a note to his 22,000 member church (the note went viral) stating that due to his son’s life-long battle with depression, in a moment of despair, he took his life.
Even though I’m ten months ahead of the mother, Kay Warren’s healing journey, I would like to sit down with her this Mother’s Day and discuss our sons, our pains, our triumphs, and our questions. I know we would cry. We would laugh. We would perhaps have long periods of reflective silence. But I also know that we would feel absolutely no shame; and with both boys, we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt there were no tabooed tickets to hell for them.
I love what Valerie Porr, author of “Overcoming Borderline Personality Disorder, a Family Guide for Healing and Change” said about Rick and Kay Warren, “They tried so hard to help him, the whole family tried so hard and yet they hit the brick wall of the illness.”“They hit the brick wall of the illness.” That describes it perfectly. Bingo.
And that’s exactly what happened to Daniel and our family too. We worked so hard to help him. We tried so hard, yet hit the brick wall.So even though this Mother’s Day I cherish the memories of Daniel’s birth, infancy, childhood, teen, and short-lived, young adult years; just like I do all of my children; I recognize the fact that Daniel and our family hit a brick wall with the illness, and there was nothing more we could do. And there is no shame in that fact.
Daniel went straight into the arms of Jesus that night; he was not alone.I will never understand the mysteries of God. And I will never understand the ways of God. But I do know that God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. Many mothers (and families) are wading through the aftermath of mental illness today.
They are piecing their lives back together in the midst of the pain.
I don’t like pain. None of us do. We were created to avoid it; otherwise we wouldn’t have nerve endings that scream, “Ouch!” when our fingers touch a hot stove.
But since Daniel’s suicide I’ve learned to embrace the pain; to not stuff the tears when they need to flow. I’ve learned to release the guilt of what I may have done to have caused it or worse yet, to have prevented it. I’ve learned to say that Daniel hanged himself instead of saying, “He passed away.” (As if he peacefully passed away in his sleep).
And I’ve learned to refuse to be the victim of the mental illness that took his life. It may have caused insurmountable anguish to me and my family, but I refuse to let it dictate and ruin my life, or my family’s life. I will continue to daily choose to be all that God has created me to be. It may mean taking baby-steps instead of sprinting many times, but I will continue to be faithful to the purposes of my life.
So how does the mother of a child who commits suicide celebrate Mother’s Day?
By choosing to reflect on the goodness of God and things that are worthy of praise; and by refusing to throw-in-the-towel and quit. That’s sounds way too super spiritual, but there is no other way if I’m going to not only survive, but successfully thrive in the days, months, and years ahead.
I know that walking through the valley of the shadow of death will not automatically end on the one year anniversary of Daniel’s death. The journey will be for a lifetime ahead. However, I must continually put the negative stuff of the past behind me and strive for what lays ahead. It’s hard work. It takes much mental focus. And some days go better than others, but there is no other way out of the mire. If I parley I will be undone.
Ask any mother of a child that died by suicide.
May 12, 2013
The last photo of all my siblings together at our wedding May 21, 2011