• Dianna Michaels

Thirteen Years of Silence

Updated: Sep 1

"Remembering my brother, Michael..."

After thirteen years of silence, I am finally sharing the story about how my brother’s suicide has impacted my life. I was 24 at the time my brother, Michael, took his own life. I remember the night we found out. I sat there in complete shock not being able to move or speak or show any emotion whatsoever.

I remember quite vividly the days leading up to his funeral. It was up to me to give the eulogy. But at 24, I had never written one and didn’t know what to say. My brother and I were close but not as close as I wish we could have been. We were thirteen years apart and ironically here I am at 37, the same age he was when he ended his life. He would have been 50 this year and I often wonder what incredible things would have happened for him if he was still here. I often look at the empty chair at the kitchen table during a holiday celebration and imagine him there. The most common question I suppose I will be asked is - “why haven’t you spoken about this before?”

The answer is simple. Because we live in a harsh world where people judge and criticize and point fingers. Take for example - the day of the viewing before the memorial service began. I was looking at some of the pictures my brother that were on display and one of his “friends” came up and began to attack me with questions. “Didn’t you know anything?” “What happened?” “Weren’t there any signs?” “Was he depressed?” He didn’t even let me answer a single one and just kept firing off question after question.

I remember walking backwards very slowly with my hands in front of me in complete shock and said, “Please... I really can't talk about this right now.” He continued to ask me the same questions and I gave him the same response. I ended up sobbing hysterically. This was shortly before the service was about to begin and I needed to pull myself together. But I remember at the moment, I thought to myself - “ I will never be able to talk about this to anyone. Ever.”

Because I’d be damned to hell if anyone blamed or questioned my family or made judgments about my brother. Except now I’ve come to realize I need to speak up about this. I wish I hadn’t been so afraid before. So I encourage you - if you have been impacted by suicide in some way, please don’t be like me. Please speak up about it. Your story may help others just as I hope that my story will help others too. Your story is important and valuable. Your life is important and valuable. Each and everyone of you.

I think everyone should know who Michael was and what he stood for. It’s important to speak about the way he died (to avoid this from happening to others.) It's also equally important to remember how he lived. I’m proud to share my brother’s story with you. I want you to get the incredible man he was. And if you would like to share your stories with me, I would like to hear them.

As always, my incredible #instafam, thank you for your love and support.

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