Friday, October 24, 2014

Warning: This Is A Very Sad Post

We keep this blog for so many reasons. It's a great place for posting photos of our daily lives. It's been a wonderful place for virtually meeting some delightful human beings across the globe who share their own photos and stories. It's been an absolutely invaluable journal in helping us reconstruct some of our recent history when our memories have failed. It's been a place where we tell some of the happiest and saddest stories of our lives. We always like to tell the happy ones, but the sad ones -- the ones we don't really want to write-- they have to be told too. So, friends, this is a sad story.

Some time last week it might have been on October 15th, my sister Lynn's longtime partner and love took his own life. He had been suffering with bipolar disorder for a long, long time. I have to admit it never occurred to me how damaging bipolar disorder is, even though my twin brother spends his entire work day as a social worker working with bipolars and schizophrenics. I just thought of it as disruptive and difficult mood swings. When I read the literature online about how debilitating and serious it is, I began to understand how deeply Stephen suffered.

Stephen tried. He really tried to keep things intact. Lynn convinced him to see a psychiatrist. He tried all the medications. But he always went back to the alcohol to self-medicate in the most dangerous way. He made two serious attempts to end his life this year, once in March and once in July. My beautiful, brave sister literally saved his life both of those times. But this third attempt took place 2000 miles away, and he told her she was just too far to help. So sad and true. Poor Stephen. 
Dancing at Lynn's daughter's wedding
Stephen was buried with full military honors on October 22nd. We wept and said our farewells into the rainy windy night. My sister is heartbroken in a way that I can hardly begin to fathom. Life has its terrible personal tragedies that leave a person changed forever. 

We hope Stephen found the peace he longed for.

30 comments:

  1. Love and comfort to you all, Robin. ♥

    ReplyDelete
  2. My sympathy to you all. I think you are right to tell people about such things and so to nudge our knowledge of this terrible condition towards understanding. take care.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry for your family's loss and your sister. I have been around suicide a few times and it is devastating to the family left behind. The only comfort I can offer is it is an illness that leads to it. It isn't really a rational choice and it's not about not loving someone. It is just a sickness. And probably there is no way to stop someone determined to do it. :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Heartfelt empathy to Lynn and you and roger and all of Stephen's family and friends who are shaken by his death.

    From your photos, I can see what a loving person Stephen is, and I can see the love that he shared with Lynn. There is kindness in his eyes and in Lynn's eyes. Love doesn't die.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Val-- Thank you so much for that.

    John-- Yes, that's what I was thinking when I wrote the post. I wanted people to understand the devastating pain of bipolar disorder. So sad.

    Bill-- Thank you.

    Sabine-- Thank you.

    Rain-- It's so true that it is an illness that leads to suicide. Some people respond to medications and interventions, and some really don't. It's quite tragic and traumatizing for the family he leaves behind.

    am-- Really good perceptive take on Stephen's loving nature. He and Lynn really loved each other. She tried so hard to keep him whole and intact. I think you may be right about love.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I tried to post earlier but must have done something wrong. I just wanted to extend my sympathy to all of you. Leah and I have both had suicides in our extended families, and that has to be one of the hardest ways to lose a loved one. I can't help thinking about how much pain a person much be in to that that taking his own life is a good option

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am sorry to hear this for your sister, but it sounds like he was determined to get it all over with one way or another and now, well, there is no longer his pain. I wish you all a healthy recovery and appreciate you sharing this story here.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mark-- Thank you for your sympathy and kind words. Suicide is really a tough thing for the family. A sad and tragic ending.

    Rubye Jack-- Yes, he was absolutely determined. His suffering is truly over now. Thank you for your kind words.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hard. Hard. For all of you, and, of course, especially for your sister. Wishing eventual healing and peace for you, though that will be a time coming. Many here have stories of family members and friends who found their suffering too profound to endure any longer. I've always thought that my step brother ended his life not in the confusion of schizophrenia but because in a moment of clarity he understood what he had lost and that given our understanding of mental dis-ease he would never be free of his illness. And, yes, his death was very, very difficult for the family in both expected and unexpected ways. Help each other.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wish we knew more about how to combat bipolar disorder. Those of us who have not been through the horros of such disorders cannot know the depths of despair that must accompany them. All of you in his circle of family and friends are in my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Unfathomable grief is what remains after the soul is burned alive. I am so sorry for your sister and all who loved him. His suffering is over and ours continues.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Minnie-- The story of your step-brother is so sad. I think being aware of the ongoing and inevitable suffering of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can push one to ultimately end their lives. So heartbreakingly tragic. Thank you for commenting and truly understanding the suffering.

    John-- What my sister had witnessed over the years is pretty unbearable. Such pain and despair and mania. A terrible thing. I too wish there really was more that could be done. Some of the interventions are horribly damaging as well.

    MandT-- Yes. I know you know that suffering. My mother misspoke yesterday when she said after reading my sister's Facebook post, "It was tear-breaking." Yes, I told her, it is tear-breaking.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am very sorry your family has had this loss, and hope healing comes eventually.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing this story, Robin Andrea and Roger. I'm fairly good friends with a woman who runs a bipolar self-help group (and she, herself, is bipolar). I know that they have lost group members to suicide. In fact, they recently planted a tree in my preserve as a memorial to one of their members.

    ReplyDelete
  15. a sad and beautiful post. Bi-polar disorder is truly scarey; I have a close friend with it who has to stay on top of managing it every day. And alcohol is the absolute worst way to cope with it, but very understandable. Wherever this dear man is now, he is suffering no longer. That's the only comfort there is: he is free. All the survivors are not. Alas.

    ReplyDelete
  16. isabelita-- Thank you for your good wishes.

    Scott-- I was so surprised to learn how many bipolar disorder sufferers end their own lives. It is so tragic. I wish there was a way to end their suffering without such a traumatic end. A tree is a lovely way to commemorate a death like this. A celebration of life.

    Tara-- Yes, Stephen is free of the suffering. It's just so sad, when I think of his face and the times he was even and happy. The last time we saw him, he had come up to Grass Valley with my sister and we had gone for one of our long walks. I remember he stood for a long time watching a Pileated Woodpecker in the tall pines. He loved it. That's how I want to remember him.

    ReplyDelete
  17. ((( Robin and Roger )))

    ((((((((((( Lynn )))))))))))

    I am so very sorry. His pain must have been unbearable; and the pain he leaves behind cannot be easy, either. Much love. xoxoxoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  18. kathy-- Yes, I do think his pain was unbearable. My sister is heartbroken. It will take lots of time to get through this loss.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh robin, I am so sorry for the pain you, roger and your sister are going through. Suicide is impossible for those left behind to understand. We always wonder "Was there something I could have done?."
    My heart goes out to each of you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Arkansas Patti-- What you write is so true. Both Roger and I have wakened in the night wondering if we could have said something, been more loving or accommodating. There's just no way of knowing. What we know is that he tried very hard to keep it together, and also tried very hard to end it all. We know how that turned out. It's very sad. Thank you for your kind words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the thing to remember, is this is a disease. Wishing you could have been more loving, etc., is like wishing that your love could save someone from the ravages of cancer. It's so very difficult to comprehend that because this disease manifests in the brain and behaviors, it can be controlled by sheer will. It cannot. Alas.

      Delete
    2. Tara-- But we do wish our love could save someone from the ravages of cancer. We want love to cure everything, even when we know it won't. Sigh. You are right of course, but the heart breaks at its inability to fix everything.

      Delete
  21. What a horrible disease this is. To make death preferable to continuing to live and love. My thoughts go out to you and the family, and the loved ones of all the people who fight these demons every single day.

    ReplyDelete
  22. NCmountainwoman-- It is such a horrible disease. I like how you define it that it makes death preferable to life and love. Such a terrible thing. My sister is heartbroken.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You're right - you have to parse the sad as well as the happy and euphoric. Wishing peace to Lynn.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Phil-- I'll tell my sister of your good wishes. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am so sorry to hear this. Healing thoughts to everyone involved.

    One of my daughters has it. She is doing okay now, but about 5 years ago, it was brutal.

    Again, my condolences to everyone involved.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Pat-- Thank you so much for your kind sympathies. I can't imagine what it must be like to have a daughter who suffers like this. The pain for you as a parent must be unbearable. I am so glad she is doing okay now. Big sigh of relief.

    ReplyDelete