Friday, April 9, 2021

A Heartfelt Tribute To My Brother

 

10 years ago today, my brother Steve decided to leave this world behind. For the majority of his adult years, he secretly struggled with his mental health. On April 9 in 2011, his sense of hopelessness became unbearable, and it led to his suicide. Losing him, especially in this manner, was the most profoundly difficult period of my life. Death of a loved one is always painful, but when someone dies by suicide, the grief you experience is like no other. It is complex and traumatic and so intense that you can barely stand it. You’re left with unanswered questions and struggle with guilt that threatens to suffocate you. “How could I have prevented this?” you ask yourself. In time, I accepted that my questions would never be answered and that there is truly no way to have stopped this from happening. He was in too much pain and also doubly challenged. On one hand, he struggled with his disease and on the other with stigma. He suffered in silence, ashamed to admit he was ill in a society that judges, mistreats and blames individuals struggling with mental health. There are stereotypes and prejudices surrounding mental illness that oftentimes discourage those who suffer from not only reaching out for help and getting the necessary treatment, but from even admitting they have a problem. Consequently, they suffer in silence, and for some, it leads to suicide. I feel stabs of pain whenever people make insensitive jokes about mental illness or callous remarks about suicide. I don’t believe everyone who behaves this way is intentionally being insensitive or thoughtless. Sometimes it’s just unawareness or lack of understanding.

Today, I honour my brother’s memory. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. Not a day goes by that I don't miss him. Introverted and unpretentious, my brother never thought he was very special. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. If only he could see just how much he meant to so many people. I miss his smile, his voice, his hearty laugh, his way of thinking, his wacky sense of humour, his unique outlook on life, his generosity, his kindness, his honesty and everything else that made him remarkable. Most of all, I miss his presence. He didn’t put on airs to impress others and he never pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He was raw and unapologetic. What you saw is what you got with him. Steve had a huge influence in my life. He was only 11 months old when I arrived into the world and, as Irish twins, we were inseparable as children. From morning to night, we were always together; practically joined at the hip. We ate together, slept at the same time, woke up at the same time, played together, shared everything we had with one another, and never fought. We went so far as mimicking each other’s actions. If he left three peas on his plate, I did, too. If I drank only half my glass of milk, so did he. If he didn’t want to put on a scarf, neither did I. We were two peas in a pod. And my childhood was that much more amazing with my brother - my first best friend - in my corner. He was bold and daring and fun and full of energy, and he dragged me along on all his crazy and wonderful and impulsive adventures. We created an abundance of heartwarming memories.

I will not allow his death to be in vain. His death left behind a vital message to the world. It is a reminder of the importance of continuing the dialogue surrounding mental health. I hope that in time, with enough information, with enough education, people will gain a deeper understanding, take it more seriously and eliminate the stigma. If you notice someone struggling, reach out to them. Many suffer in silence, feel isolated and even ashamed. One small act of kindness or support from someone can help alleviate some of the anguish and possibly save a life. There is a fine line between hope and hopelessness. Build a bridge with love and compassion that may encourage someone to cross over to the side of hope and hang on for a little bit longer. Someone contemplating suicide has mixed feelings about it. They don’t really want death; they just want the unbearable pain to stop. Help to alleviate that suffering. Be part of the solution and not the problem. Educate yourself and stop propagating the damaging stereotypes and stigmas that are very harmful to people struggling with their mental health, so that no other life is cut short and you never experience this level of grief.

Steve left much too early and the world became a sadder place without him in it. But I am forever grateful to have been given the time I had with him. It was an honour and a blessing. Wherever he may be, I hope he is finally at peace.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. Let’s keep the conversation going and remove the barriers that discourage people from seeking the help that will turn their life around.

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(My dear blogging friends, I realize I've been gone a long time. I've been dealing with many personal things in the past year and trying to overcome the emotions that go with them. The most amazing man in the world and I are doing well, otherwise, and I hope to be returning to my blog very soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share this tribute, which is important for me. It is the first time in 10 years that I've gone public with the cause of my brother's death. I feel a tremendous sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted. I hope you are all keeping well and I will visit your blogs as soon as I'm able to. Take care, and thank you for reading this tribute. Sending you all love. ~ Martha ~)


Monday, February 15, 2021

Taking A Break

 Hey, blogging pals, I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to take the rest of the month off to deal with some stuff. Until my return, be well and play nice with each other. See you soon!




Monday, February 8, 2021

Chuckles and Chortles

 It's Monday, blogging pals, and I'm happy to be back. I didn't post last week because there are just too many things going on lately and I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed. But I can't stay away for long, otherwise, who's going to make you laugh? I have a responsibility to keep you smiling, folks, and I take it seriously.

We're still in lockdown but that should be easing up very soon. Restrictions will be lessened and some businesses will start opening up. The only thing I honestly miss is being able to go out to a restaurant from time to time. With friends, preferably, but I don't see that happening for a while.

Anyhoo... What are you all up to lately? What have you been watching, reading, doing, learning, practicing, attempting? We finished the movies "Dig" (slow pace but enjoyable), "Boy Erased" (should have gone deeper) and "Brimstone" (too much gore). And we're zipping through the comedy "Superstore" and the third season of the series "The Sinner". Have any of you seen any of these? Any suggestions for Netflix?

Before I share the funny stuff, here's some food for thought:


Time for some humour. Have a wonderful day and an amazing week!







Monday, January 25, 2021

Chuckles and Chortles

 Here we are again, blogging friends! How is everyone doing? What are you up to these days? Not much on our end. We're still on lockdown, which has been much easier the past few days with all the cold and snow that has come our way. I'm honestly happy to be home, cozy and comfortable, although I'm looking forward to milder weather for some lengthy walks. This past week we've been enjoying the series "Fargo" on Netflix. Anyone watching (or watched) this? It's not too bad. Far better than I expected.

Well now... I was going to ask if you've run across the Bernie Sanders memes. I'm sure most of you have. I am loving them! They are a lot of fun, and you couldn't have chosen a nicer person for this. I ran across the  image below the day before and I had to share it. It had me in stitches! My Canadian friends (the older ones like me) will appreciate and probably get a kick out of it.

My rant this week comes in the form of an image, which pretty much summarizes how I feel:


Now let's get to the funny stuff, so we can all get on with our lives! Happy Monday and happy new week. Enjoy!








Monday, January 18, 2021

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy Monday, blogging pals! I didn't post last week because I had absolutely no motivation to do so. But I'm back! How is everyone doing? What's going on with you? We're just trying to pass the time. We're in another lockdown, which will last for about four weeks. Everything, aside from essential services, has shut down, and we're advised to stay home. COVID cases have risen across the country and there is a fear of stressing the healthcare system to a breaking point and forcing doctors to make life and death decisions. I'm not surprised we're in this situation. Too many large gatherings over the holidays, anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, and on and on goes the list of boneheadedness, which has contributed to the problem. And so do statements such as "this is just like the flu" or "Bill Gates has created this virus" or "a chip will be implanted with the vaccine to track us". Please stop saying these things. You sound stupid. If you're concerned about being tracked, get rid of your smartphone and get off the internet.

Sorry, not sorry, for being blunt like this. I'm just tired of the nonsense and the me, me, me attitude... We're all fed up with this virus. We all miss doing the things we enjoy and being with people we love. We're all in this and doing the best we can to get through it. And we will get through it. We will. But until such time, we should think of the greater good and take care of one another.

Okay, rant over. Share below. Did I mention that we watched The Queen's Gambit? It took us quite some time to get into it but I'm so glad we did. It is really good! And right now we're zipping through the series Ratched, which is...um...different. But enjoyable. What about you? Are you watching anything interesting or reading any good books? Share below!

Now, let's get to the funny stuff. Have a good laugh and make sure to have a good day, too!