On Suicide

Vanessa Broers
4 min readAug 1, 2022

Four years ago, my sister killed herself.

I was at a retreat at my coach’s house in California — sitting on a gorgeous balcony overlooking the ocean.

A hawk flew by and my heart sank. Something felt off. A few minutes later my sister called me to let me know. I’ll never forget the pain in my sister voice, or the love that was piled onto me instantly by my husband and coach in that moment.

In all the years since she passed, I’ve rarely shared it publicly. So odd, for someone who uses so much of her life to teach…life.

Our relationship was complex. I don’t even have a picture of us as adults.

I think that’s part of why I’ve not often shared. There’s a romanticizing that people often do when someone dies. And given that the entire ethos of my life is about Truth, it’s never felt right to share in that way.

My sense is that she’d judge me for this post. She’d tell me that I was capitalizing on her death. Which actually makes me chuckle in fondness in this moment.

She had severe mental health issues and it always felt like I got the worst of it. The longer she’s gone, the more I wonder if that’s true.

I said to a client the other day about my relationship with her “At one point I stopped taking it personally, but I also stopped personally taking it.”

We didn’t speak for nearly four years leading up to her death aside from a short voicemail I left her apologizing for this about a year before her death. An action I will always be grateful for.

But even after that, it never felt right to try to repair things with her.

I remember a few months before she died, crying in my kitchen to Sibe, wondering if I was still doing the right thing to keep my distance.

Now that she’s gone, I know that it wasn’t the “right” thing. But it was the True thing.

I had and have a better relationship TO her by not having one WITH her.

The truth us, I have, and have always had, a lot of peace around her death.

Her choice to end her life was also True, however heartbreaking. No right or wrong in her choice either.

My relationship to me, through her, continues to evolve with each year that passes, and it occurs to me more deeply what the reality for me to never see her again feels like.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t mined the experience for lessons, or struggled much with the reality of it. Sometimes I think of her and cry, most times, what I feel is compassion. Occasionally I judge myself for all of that. But I don’t stay there.

My sister once said to me about it, “You’re either the most zen human being on earth, or a total sociopath.” The jury is still out

This morning on my walk with Opi, I knelt by a river and prayed. I cried and grieved. I wasn’t sure of how much of it was for her life unlived — or the parts of my life still held hostage by my past. Grieving for my life unlived. It doesn’t matter. The grief moved.

Life is a strange ride. Best to learn about how it works so you can fully participate in all of it.

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I never planned to share this — but I wrote it a year ago about Elyse.

Just like that — you’re gone.

Not by chance. By choice.

A selfish, cowardly act.

Left behind you is a wake. An ocean.

Of people

Crying themselves to sleep tonight.

How could you?

How could you? Why did you have to?

Selfish. Cowardly. Act.

I refuse to think “if only..”

I put armed guards and booby traps at the doors of “maybe if I would have just…”

Your choice. Not my responsibility.

In that I choose grief over guilt.

I choose grief over guilt over and over and over.

I choose.

A choice.

I could never choose what you chose.

It’s unthinkable.

A choice like that. Unthinkable to make.

Do you make a choice like that? Does it make you?

To get that point. To that choice.

That is unimaginable.

To be *left* with only that choice.

My heart breaks that you saw only that choice.

That you couldn’t feel or receive any of the love that was available to you

Here

On this planet

From this heart.

I love you

And

I am so angry at you for leaving.

Just like that you’re gone.

Not by chance. By choice.

I don’t understand your choice.

I hate your choice.

It wasn’t mine to make.

Not for me to decide.

Perhaps not even mine to understand, or to like.

I hate your choice.

But I love you.

Then and now.

Here or gone.

Guilt pretends I could have changed it.

Guilt fakes responsibility so in it

I can live in a fantasy

that “it could have been different.”

I put a guard there.

It is.

You made your choice. That is all.

Your life was as long as it was. That is all.

Guilt feels better, but traps pain.

And separates me from you.

I choose grief.

That takes courage.

In courage I’m swept away countless times by the wake

The ocean

That your love left.

I hate your choice

But I honor you.

I honor your struggle

A depth I can’t relate to.

On my worst day

I couldn’t get there if I tried.

You tried.

And tried. And tried and triedandtriedandtried.

I doubt I’d ever tried at anything the way you

Clung

Bare knuckles to life

For as long as you could.

And then you let go.

Just like that you’re gone.

Not by chance. By choice.

I don’t understand your choice.

I may never.

But I love you.

I love you.

I honor you.

I honor your choice.

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Vanessa Broers

Vanessa coaches high achievers and coaches to create beyond what they imagine as possible. She believes in CREATING clients vs finding them. Ask her how.