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I've struggled with this all day long, and even into the night... I've been angry today, which is also a part of this journey... and as I sat at my computer editing today, the thoughts crept back in and I found myself slipping back into a tunnel vision frame of mind. That same frame of mind that I worked SO hard this last week to get out of... I could feel myself sinking back into it. It scared me. It took my breath away. I started to feel like I couldn't breathe, that this was starting to become all consuming for me again.

A "Never Forget Josh Schacht" Facebook page was made, not by me, but by two of his other family members (two cousins) and two pastors (a man and a wife) of his church.

When I saw that the page was created initially after we lost him, I thought about what a great idea it was... we can all share photos and stories of him.

I never posted on it. I just watched from afar. I listened to what people said and wrote about him, looked at the photos they shared... some from a few years ago, some that were taken a little more recently, even some from a few of his really long standing friends of ten years.

On October 16th I decided that I would post on the page. It was the same post I made on my personal Facebook page from October 16th. It just stated how I missed him, how I would have sat with him through any struggle, a few things about when we were kids; it talked about how I missed my brother, and that I was sorry. I shared a couple of photos from when we were kids... I thought that others might like to see what he looked like as a child, a kid, and a teenager. I clicked post after I was done writing only to find out an admin had to approve my post.

Okay, no big deal.

Two days later, my post still wasn't approved. Weird. I thought that the admins probably didn't check Facebook very often. I messaged two of the three admins. No response from anyone. My messages weren't even being read, one of whom I was actually friends with on Facebook.

I realized that I could comment on other people's post within the group. I asked if anyone else needed an admin to approve their posts. They stated no. They had no problems posting to this tribute page. No admin had to approve their posts. I asked if someone could reach out to the admins and see if my post could be shared to the page as well, that maybe it had just been overlooked.

Then came the comments... I was accused of deleting his personal Facebook page and "taking photos of him from his friends and family". I didn't delete his Facebook page, nor deactivate it. That wasn't my doing. Do I know who did it, yes. Were the reasons for deactivating the Facebook page valid, absolutely.

I was told, "We all are his family, we all are grieving and it was ripped from us... family isn't just blood. You might not have clicked that button of delete... but we all would love to see his smile to get us through this too. We all were there when others weren't."

Wow. "We all were there when others weren't."

Those words stung.

It was like I sudddenly wasn't someone who lived in the complete disfunction of my brothers battle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal attempts for the last 34 years. I felt like I was being told as if I didn't even know him. It was a slap in the face. It was unexpected. It was hurtful... to the core.

Did Josh and I have disfunction? Yes. A whole heck of a lot of it. And this person was right... I wasn't always there. I wasn't always there because I was one of the few people Josh shit on... A LOT. I was a "safe place" for him that he could beat up on emotionally, abuse emotionally, and would still love him no matter what... because he was my brother, because we were blood. I came back for more every single time... out of love, and compassion, and hope that I could fix him if I tried even harder. Even when I knew what he was doing to me wasn't out of a place of love, I still came back.

So no, I wasn't always there. And if it makes people in that group feel better to blame someone... fine. I can take that blame. I can carry that, if that makes it easier for them to grieve.

In a way, I'm glad that some people only saw the good side of Josh... it makes their grieving process less complicated. I'm even jealous if I'm being honest. I'm jealous of the fact that they can remember only the good parts of him and aren't clouded by the hard memories too, the hurtful words, the long nights of talking in circles until you're just told you're the one that is crazy. I'm jealous of the fact that they don't have to deal with the anger, confusion, overwhelming fear, or have to pick up the pieces of what was left after he took his life. They get to just grieve and remember the good times. I wish my grief was like theirs, less complicated.

Then the Facebook private messages came next. I tried to explain how hurt I was. In my mind I just kept thinking, "How come everyone else gets to share and grieve and I don't?". I felt bullied. And in their Facebook page rules, one of them was "Be kind and courteous." I laughed. I found that part comical. I also found it funny that these were pastors of a church who were passing judgement on me, my Facebook post, and reported me to Facebook as "bullying and inappropriate commenting". I couldn't believe that people who teach and speak the word of God at church and walk closely with Christ could be this cruel to someone, a family member nonetheless, that just wanted to grieve too.

This particular person did apologize. He had lost someone else that week, it was in the middle of his "busy" season and he said the words to hurt me because he was hurting too. I get that. I told him I accepted his apology, but in reality, I didn't.

Do I trust him? No.

Are we friends? No.

Do I like him? No.

Eventually it came full circle and this persons true colors showed last week. He was lying and hiding a piece of equipment from my brother's wife because he was told, by Josh himself, that Josh didn't buy it with business money and it wasn't a business asset. Insert eye roll here. Come to find out, it was listed as a business asset. I just wanted to send a spiteful message and remind these people that just because Josh said something to them doesn't mean it was truth. Josh may have said that this piece of equipment wasn't business property, but that was a lie. But before I get too far down this particular rabbit hole of the equipment hiding story, I have to stop, because that's another story for a different day and distracts from my point here.

Long story short, the admins of this page deemed my post inappropriate and that it might offend others. I was banned from the Facebook page until October 23rd and wasn't allowed to comment or post. I left the group. I decided they didn't matter. It didn't make what they did and said hurt any less, but leaving the group helped me to step away from the negativity and try and focus on my own healing.

This is the anger portion of complicated grief though. I'm angry that not everyone saw Josh's true colors. I'm angry that the ones who did see Josh's true colors and lived through hell and back with him are the only ones who were painted into this nightmare of a picture for others to see. We look like the crazy ones. This is the thing about mental illness... when someone who is mentally ill is in so deep that they can no longer see the difference between reality and fantasy, they start to paint a picture of how bad the people are who knew them at the core to people who only knew them on the surface level. That's the complicated, messy part of mental illness, depression, borderline personality disorder, and suicide. These are the ugly truths that no one talks about.

I can try and explain these feelings of anger and hurt to people, but unless you're real-life living suicide grief, you won't understand it. It's no fault of your own, and I'm glad that you don't know how I feel. I wouldn't wish this type of torment on anyone. I've been told just about everything to make me feel better about it though...

"You're stronger than this."

"Listening to what they say isn't worth it."

"These people don't matter."

"You have to let this go and move on." "Just remember that not everyone was a part of Josh's life at the same time."

"Don't let them get to you. It doesn't matter."

The thing is... it DOES matter. It matters to ME. It hurt ME. I know that people say these things to help make me feel better, but it doesn't. These words make me angry. They make me feel like my feelings aren't valid. I need people to say, "I know that this hurts and your feelings are shattered, and it's ok to feel that way. But please know you won't be stuck in this place forever, this is temporary." Because it IS ok to feel this way. My feelings ARE valid. This is part of the cycle, yes, but just because it's part of the cycle doesn't mean it hurts any less.

Long story short. Words are powerful.

You never know how they'll affect people. When I initially starting writing this, I was writing it as a Facebook post... because I was hurt, my feelings were running high, and I wanted these people to hear how their words and actions have caused me pain. Now that I'm not so angry I ask myself, "Does this matter?". The answer is no. It doesn't matter. People can tell me that until they're blue in the face but when I'm in the middle of the anger stage in the grief cycle, I can't hear them. What I can hear, though, is compassion and empathy... I can hear, "Yes, you're hurting, and I'll sit here with you and hold you while you cry and shout and sit with you through this until the cycle slips into the next stage of grief, no matter if that's a couple minutes or a few hours."

Anger can transition to spitefulness in suicide grief. See, it's this slippery slope and the minute you think you're gaining ground, you slide back a few steps.

If you're a suicide loss survivor and you're reading this... you are not alone. Your feelings are valid. It's ok to not be ok. It's ok to be hurt, angry, fearful, overwhelmed, sad, devastated, and confused all at once. It's ok to feel these things and I'll sit with you until you slip into the next cycle of grief, no matter how long it takes us, we'll do it together.


The After Sierra.


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