DEATH AT A FUNERAL

No one likes a funeral. Especially when saying goodbye to someone that’s committed suicide. There’s that air of uncomfortableness – you can’t really reflect on a life well-lived, can you? There’s nothing well-lived in being a slave to a poisoned mind and a heart that’s lost its beat. You do your best to remember them as happy children or at joyful stages in their life, but it’s a difficult task at the time. Your mind searches for details and answers instead. Answers that cannot be found on the long faces that seek them. What I wanted to share today revolves around our own deaths at a funeral. I speak mainly in terms of suffering a tragic loss like suicide. When I stood behind my Mum, while she witnessed what any parent would dread, watching her own son being lowered into the earth – my hand rested gently on her shoulder. I was at a loss to even imagine where she was in her head. Her poor heart I knew, was broken. With my hand that rested upon her shoulders burdened with guilt, like the rest of us, I wondered if again we’d all be okay. What did okay mean anyway? Were we okay before Mitch died? Were we ever okay? Laying my brother down to rest for the long, eternal night – were we laying to rest this family as is was? Was his death also the death of us – our unit and us individually? […]

ARE YOU A REAL TOUGH GUY?

Suicide is swept under the rug and happily kept there. There’s no doubt about that statement. The topic can be extremely difficult to discuss for a multitude of reasons. Beyond the shamefulness of the suicide stigma, is one very important reason I want to touch upon in this post and it relates to us guys…us men.   I have talked previously about the harmonious equilibrium there is in the world and how that balanced perspective helped me dig deeper into my own suffering as a means to healing. This balanced state is love. We all know it’s there – we’ve all felt it before. And this balanced state of being is no different for how men and women were created – an equal scale of masculine and feminine energy. The problem is today and for generations past – the masculine energy within men seriously outweighs the feminine. It becomes so dominant in a culture that’s bred from a very early age, that we as men are forced to wear external masks because the internal balance, the way nature intended us to be, is critically out of whack. This imbalance of how to see the world and how to experience the world carries with us for years – our mask(s) become professionals at inauthentically presenting to the world an unnatural version of who you are.   You become a witness to that type of transformation and it translates over to healing men’s mental health concerns, the busted idea of masculinity, and the taboo subject of suicide. […]

THE VULNERABILITY OF SUICIDE

  People that have recently lost loved ones to suicide have a certain look about them. It’s a look only recognizable to those who have seen the exact same look on their own faces when staring in the mirror. A once welcoming bathroom quickly turns into a torture chamber. I know I despised the mirror to the point that if nature called during the day if I was at home, I’d relieve myself in the garden. The look I refer to is one of severe vulnerability. Along my journey after Mitch’s suicide, I have reflected on many existential questions. As you can imagine, such a sudden tragic loss throws you into a spin bordering on insanity. Grief has the power to derange the mind as it departs from the normal attitudes to life, especially in those early months or years. It’s the unfortunate result that the people close to the grieving suffer the direct stinging impact. You were never alone deep within yourself or with your family. The mind spiked your tree and chopped it down. Vulnerability never had a chance to speak to a healing potential. Through the different stages of grief, the questions I have asked myself have changed and my understanding and awareness has also shifted to higher ground. But I still often contemplate that word vulnerability. I wonder how Mitch felt in his defeated helplessness? Why he never chose to accept and shine light on his shadow? I wonder how that when I did catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I saw his reflection of vulnerability. And I imagine what it must have felt like to live from that confined space everyday, to which many people who are on the brink often are. Below is a letter I wrote to Mitch, which started on a bench in Poet’s Alley, Central Park about four years after he passed. I communicate with him about fear and vulnerability. […]

THERE’S MAGIC IN MOURNING

  There’s an image that is forever imprinted in my mind. That image is the lifeless body of my brother, Mitch laid out on a dolly bed at the mortuary. An in your face introduction to death you might say. Funnily enough, there was a peaceful smile on his face. One that I had almost forgotten about through the dark clouds of his depression. No longer was he attached to the poison of his own mind – a tape on relentless replay of old, suffocating stories. Yes, stories. And what do we know about stories? They’re not always true. Now, he was free to unite with the source from which he came. In that moment viewing his body, my mind concussed with fear, I recall holding back the fizzing can of  emotion that was ready to pop inside. Tears came, naturally, but our mourning avoidant, impatient with grief culture had taught me to feel as little as possible. Again, this was my path through grief. I shall continue to give you my perspective, yet everyone’s is different. Experiencing suicide instantly armed me with my strong face. The unfortunate stigma of suicide remains in the public’s eye a blemish on the illusion of normalcy. It’s like a murder with a known assailant. That fear I have talked about hits you on many levels. Deciding how to react amongst friends and the public, is one of them. Their family must be cursed. What type of crazy exists inside that house? Freak show. We should probably keep our distance. These and many more lines spill into your mind because who seriously talks about suicide. It’s very happily swept under the rug. That’s where I wanted it to be. Yep, I’m just like everyone else. Mitch who? No, not my brother – must be another Mitch Dunn you’re thinking of. God, the shame and the silence caused by the stigma buckles you. Then the lies. Deciding to tell the truth about what happened when a stranger hears about your loss. Yeah, it was actually a hit and run. Terrible. They haven’t found the guy either. […]