Well, I did it. I finished watching the entire “Six Feet Under Series” this weekend. I miss it already. There is something so comforting, to me, about a show that so openly talks about death and the shit that happens to those left behind.
I watched as a sister, fresh in her grief, stared blankly up at the sky as though her brother’s death literally had taken her soul away from her and left her empty inside. She said, “He was my only brother. He’s gone. I’ll never have another brother.” I remember those days so clearly, Brian. Moving about but feeling disconnected to the places and faces I came across. Going to sleep crying. Waking up crying. Lying on my bed staring out the window in bone-weary silence when the tears simply ran out… staring into the sky but not really seeing anything. Not connecting to anyone or anything. Nothing mattered anymore… nothing at all. I’ll never have another sibling; you were it for me and with one painful phone call that lifetime of being a sister to you was just… over.
The show showed the self-destruction that often occurs following a traumatic death. Nearly all of my days were all the same at the beginning: I’d wake up in a fog, believing it had just been a bad dream and then begin sobbing when I realized it wasn’t a dream at all. I’d leave the house in whatever clothes were closest to me, making no real effort to put myself together. I’d go to work and fight tears all day. I’d leave work for my lunch break spent crying in my car. I’d cry all the way home when the work day was over. I’d drink at least 6-7 glasses of wine, smoke some pot, take a few sleeping pills and pass out before 8:00 and the next morning I’d wake up and do it all over again. It was so exhausting missing you and I really didn’t want to feel anything at all. I had very little desire to answer the phone or reply to emails or texts and I was just so fucking depressed. I was so angry, though not at you… just at what my life had become. I was just barely getting by; I’ve come a long, long way since then.
I felt so at home watching “Six Feet Under” because it so beautifully showed all the stages of grief that people go through… and reinforced that those stages very often don’t go in any particular order… and that you can relive any and all of those stages at different times in your life– grieving the loss of someone so close to you is a lifelong process. I can say that after 4 years it does get easier… but it’s ALWAYS there. You are still on my mind– every. single. day. In the beginning I was bombarded with all of the sad memories and all the ways I hurt your feelings or upset you over the years and wished so badly that I could get a do-over. But these days it is far easier to come up with happy memories… there sure are a lot of them.
Another thing that I found so comforting about the show was the continued “presence” of those who had passed. They often “saw” and spoke to those who had died; whether it was real or imagined (though I believe that to be real) isn’t the point… it was that even after death we still want to incorporate our loved ones into our daily lives. You’re on my mind so much that with each decision I make or when things happen to me that I want to share I imagine that your spirit is with me sharing in the news or comforting me when I need it. Though your body is gone, you still very much inspire me. I can’t let you go completely and I’m fine with that, actually; you’re always going to be a part of my life, though in a different form than before.
And the show was just so honest! I wish our society didn’t tiptoe around the subject of death so much… and the topic of a suicide death is far more taboo and people just don’t want to talk about it. I’ve eased up a lot over the past 4 years. In the beginning I wanted to talk about it all the time– to anyone who would listen. It was always on my mind and was such a distraction that I often thought I shouldn’t have been allowed to drive a vehicle. If someone honked and zipped around me while flashing their middle finger at me for failing to see that the light had turned green a part of me wanted to chase them down and jump out of the car and scream, “I’m sorry I made your life so difficult at that stoplight… my brother just killed himself! If a few seconds longer at a stoplight is the worst thing to happen to you today then you’re in great fucking shape!!” That anger was always just barely concealed beneath my expressionless surface.
I’m grateful that through talk therapy, art, setting appropriate boundaries with people whom I do not feel safe, medication and simply the passing of time that I have come to a place where I can remember you without breaking down. Don’t get me wrong, I still fall apart a lot… but not all day every day like I used to.
And if I’m being completely honest, I can foresee myself watching the entire “Six Feet Under” series again in the future. It’s good for my soul.
On a side note, I just turned 41 on Saturday… I did always love the birthday cards you used to get for me. I really miss that and I really missed not talking to you on my birthday. But you were still there with me, dude. I miss you.