I wonder lately what the next step will be. How do I carry Mike with me now? I want to honor his life and his death, without being obsessive about it. The trauma doesn't feel as acute as last year, but I am certainly not healed. Nor will I ever be. Since I get to decide what his life and his death mean to me, I try to make sense of it all. Mostly I look for the silver lining.
Ultimately I don't want to define my brother's life by his suicide. Likewise I don't want to define my life by my brother's suicide. For now, when I engage with his memory, it's all wrapped up in that day. And the silver lining has been the connections I've made with others who have to carry this same pain. It's too much for one person to carry. The stronger the web of survivors, the more supported we are when we carry it. I am closer to my surviving family now, and have a wonderful support group of fellow survivors of suicide. So I consider stretching out the web even further.
For example, my group is talking about going on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Overnight Walk in New York City to connect with survivors from across the country. Another idea I had was to organize a group for the next Dia de los Muertos in San Francisco to build an altar for the people we have lost to suicide. At some point I would also like to travel to Mexico for the larger Dia de los Muertos festival in Pátzcuaro. I could also volunteer to help out organizations dedicated to suicide prevention and/or survivor support.
I know these activities will not bring Mike back. But they might help someone who is having a hard time making it through the day. Maybe getting through the day is all that is next.
As for honoring Mike's life, tomorrow I will be cheering for the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl. Mike and Dad were loyal Packer fans till the very end. I may not know a thing about football, but I know that Mike and Dad would be proud.