Thursday, November 03, 2005

Disease or suicide by drink? You decide

I've been thinking about my brother, Toby, the past week, as All Souls day approached (it was yesterday). I attended a great church service last night, done in candlelight, with time to reflect on those we've lost in the past year.

In the coming Sunday service, the Necrology will be read. It's a listing of all those who have died in the past year — members of the parish or loved ones of members in the parish.. I entered Toby's name in the book, and delivered his photo to the church. It will sit on the altar, with the other photos, Sunday.

I've been thinking about his death. He pretty much drank himself to death. He shouldn't have died at the age of 48, but he did. At times, I think of his death as a suicide, because he knew the drinking was killing him, but he didn't stop.

I think, really, he couldn't stop. Toby had a lot of demons, but alcohol is a demon of its own. Toby couldn't live without it, but he couldn't live with it, either. Liver and stomach problems run in the family, even forteatotalers. Toby didn't stand a chance.

It's true Toby struggled with himself all his life. He was ashamed of being homosexual. I knew nothing about any relationships he may have had, because he wouldn't talk about such things, period. He was secretive. I doubt he had many personal relationships, especially the last few years.

On top of that, he struggled with the same hypercritical family crap I did, with the sense of not being acceptable, of being unable to do anything right or well enough.

Still, was it suicide, or was it a disease that killed him?

Either way, I believe he now has joy and peace, in the love and grace of God. I can only hold to God's promises.

If it were not so, he would have told us.


Bruno said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your brothers death. As a gay man, I see far to often the price we pay for the lack of belonging. Even if we find a place in our family or church, there is often the feeling we don't belong to the gay community either, because we don't live the life protrayed by the media. It is hard to identify when you have no role models that demonstrate an other different from what the parades or bars present. So many youth who are strugling with their sexual orientation are doubly confused because they don't fit in with the image presented to them by false beliefs.
I pray for your brothers peace, and yours.

Saint Pat said...

Thank you, Bruno. My brother suffered from that lack of belonging. I wish he'd had a partner to share his life with him.

Your insights seem right on target to me.

Charlotte said...

Pat, your brother's suffering grieves me greatly.