The day my brother died

I just found this piece of writing in a book of notes that I was looking through for something else entirely. I think I wrote it a few months after my brother died in 2009, I just edited it a bit and posted below.

Once my current book Coding: a user guide is submitted to Penguin, deadline 1st January 2018, I’m going to write my autobiography. Suicide is a really hard subject to write about, this piece of writing is what happened and my immediate thoughts after my brother died. I’ve written a few other pieces related to this one:

Falling into the abyss: what depression feels like to me

Young Rewired State and my brother Stephen


Happy Mother’s Day

If I can do it, so can you

I hope you enjoy them. I’d love your feedback on anything I’ve written about. Going on an Arvon writing course a couple of weeks ago has really made me realise how much I love writing and want to do more of it. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my work and I look forward to hearing from you ❤ 


The day my brother died

My phone rang. Well actually it didn’t ring, it barked. I’d spent some time recently changing some of the ringtones on my phone so that I would know who was ringing before I looked at my phone. I’d chosen a barking dog ringtone for my sister because she loves dogs.

It was 11.30pm. My sister Sarah never rang late in the evening, so I knew something was seriously wrong.

 “It’s only me.” Sarah said.

“Have you got someone with you?

I felt a terrible tightness in my chest. My existence suddenly came into sharp focus with an acute hyperawareness of everything around me. The room seemed to buzz with silence.

“Yes, Paul’s here.” I managed to whisper.

Dread filled my heart. I somehow knew what she was about to say. I fell onto the sofa, moaning.

“It’s Stephen.” She said and started crying, a dreadful animal cry.

“Oh God.”

My head started spinning. I knew what was going to come next. There was a pause which seemed to last for ever, but was probably just a second or two.

“He’s dead.” She said finally.

“What happened?” I said. Inside my head my brain was screeching.

“He hung himself…in the garage.”

“Oh God.”

“Where’s Rachel?”

“She’s at the hospital with him, she had to cut him down.”

“Oh no, and the boys?”

“They’re with Rachel’s parents.”

“Oh God.”

I started wailing and couldn’t stop. My whole world started collapsing in my head. My little brother Stephen was dead. By his own hand. My little baby brother. Dead.

Paul put his arm around me. I sobbed and sobbed.

“My brother’s dead” I cried.

“He’s hung himself.”


I thought we had all escaped. I thought we had all put that pain and abuse behind us, and moved on with our lives. But now that Stephen was dead, I knew that wasn’t true. We had not escaped. The dreadful experiences we had gone through as children had caught up with us.

I thought we had beaten them into submission and walked away the victors. But Stephen’s suicide now meant that I’d been kidding myself. We hadn’t escaped at all.

We had tried to escape, but some of that rotten, maggoty existence had stayed in our minds. It had stayed in our minds for thirty long years slowly and almost imperceptibly gnawing its way through, rarely lifting its head.

Now, the game was up. I’d spent thirty years congratulating myself on escaping, on my brother and sister escaping and feeling ridiculously proud of what we had all achieved in our lives. But now?

What now?

Now that Stephen was dead, now that he had killed himself, my life, our lives were exposed as a sham. Suicide is the opposite of success.

I had thought that we had escaped and gone on to lead normal, even exemplary lives. But no. The maggoty rot had returned.

Our lives had been a sham. We were dragged back, like it or not, into our past lives where we had no control, no self-esteem, no life.

We had lost.



  1. Sue, that was painful to read. So I can only imagine how painful it was for you and yes family.
    Sincere condolences.
    Death by suicide is not the failure of the person who sees this as only way to end pain and torture, no matter how much success they have in their lives, and indeed love.

    You and your families successes, attainments and happy lives are not the sham.

    The person/people who caused you ( as children ) cruelty etc. Are the sham.

    Never you, yr brother and other siblings.


    1. Thanks very much Exdub 🙏🏼 I completely agree with you. I wrote this when I was still in a massive bubble of absolute despair. It took me time to get out of that bubble, but I did get out of it in time. CBT was instrumental in helping me to get my life back on track. Thanks so much for your condolences and your kind and thoughtful comments ❤️😘

  2. Sue, that is direct, authentic and powerful writing. We are right with you experiencing your immediate pain, then before we can take a breath, you draw us back into a much older pain, yet to be disclosed. You absolutely MUST write your memoir. Do it as a memoir, rather than autobiography. Suicide is not often spoken of. Damn, death and grief aren’t, let alone suicide. I’ve had it come into my life on 3 occasions as the ultimate unwanted and unwelcome guests. It cuts you like a big blade that slices then twists and turns, ensuring maximum pain. I feel all that in your writing. Your words linger in my mind. The acid test. My thoughts and heartfelt feelings are with you and sister. Susan x

    1. Oh wow, thanks very much Susan. I don’t know the difference between autobiography and memoir, so I’ll look it up. Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words. Very best wishes, Sue xxx

  3. This is so beautifully written and so very poignant. Thank you for sharing. You asked for feedback on your writing and all I would say is this: don’t change a word.

  4. I will admit that this was veryhard for me to read, took me right back to that awful day. I’m so very proud of you Sue and I’m proud of myself too.
    Love always xxxx

    1. So sorry for taking you back there 😭 I’m going to write about how I got through the next few months so that it doesn’t end at such a depressing point. I’m so proud of you too. Look at how we have managed to come through everything 😀 both of us have had such a positive impact on other people’s lives too. Love ❤️ you too xxxxx

  5. Thanks for sharing Sue, it is really hard to read and I’m so sorry for your loss. My feedback would be not to change a thing; you’ve written something as how it happened, people connect with that. Suicide is a very difficult subject, I’m sure this will encourage more people to open up and just talk about their experiences too….that’s what great writing is all about. Looking forward to your memoirs/autobiography 🙂

  6. I’m just about to reach the first anniversary of my daughter’s suicide aged 26. It’s always comforting to read of other people coming through similar losses, and going on to feel joy rather than pain. Thank you Sue xx

    1. Hi Carol, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. Hugs. It’s taken us a few years to get to where we are. I had CBT which helped early on, my sister and I have talked a lot about Stephen, our memories and how we feel which has gradually got us to where we are now. This time of year has now become one of talking to people about relatives that we loved and has brought us closer together. Lots of love, Sue xxx

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