Two Years Later

The Day My Brother Died

Click here for my post one year ago. Two years ago. Two years to the day, I received a gut-wrenching phone call from my absolutely destroyed mother, wailing out in despair that her baby, my 20 year old brother, Erik, had shot himself, ending a lifelong battle with depression.

Two years ago to this day, I dropped everything (just like they do in the movies) – my Target shopping bags from where I was probably the instant he died – and fled out the door to my car, frantically dialed [houston] and managed to choke out that my brother was dead. I remember his voice on the other end of the telephone. In quiet, somber tones but with urgency and concern, he relayed that he would be right there to meet me at my parents’ house. I somehow made it across town to the house in one piece; tears flooding my vision made it difficult for me to see. Pulling up to the house made my nightmare a reality as I saw the police cars, and medical examiner’s van outside of my idyllic childhood home.

I followed their advice and against my instincts, chose to remain downstairs instead of flying up the stairs two at a time to hold him in my arms, as I so desperately wanted to do. But they knew, and I knew, that I would be haunted forever by his last gruesome appearance, and I chose to stay back. When [houston] arrived, I ran into his arms and we both sobbed.

As they wheeled his body out of the front door, I flew around the corner to meet them, and laid my hand over the body bag on his chest and said Goodbye.

I took these photos (above, and below) of Erik during a hot summer late afternoon when he was hard at play on his BMX bike. There was always a hint of sadness in his eyes, which I captured that afternoon.

In the days that followed, I walked as if in a dream. I somehow wrote his obituary (first photo, above). I managed to smile and thank people for coming to his visitation. At his funeral service, I choked out a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye and lamented about how he was supposed to be a groomsman at my wedding someday. The days, weeks, and months that followed were nearly unbearable at times. I got used to falling asleep on a tear-soaked pillow.

But my family, my boyfriend (now fiancĂ©), my classmates, and my friends are the ones who got me through it all, and as if they were my support beams, so I was the support beam for my parents–and especially my mother.

Interestingly enough, we both chose to channel our grief into blogging. I started a blog called Pretty Shiny Sparkly as an escape into frivolous girliness to pull myself out of the grey cloud of despair; my mother began chronicling her journey exploring spirituality and the afterlife in a blog I created for her, called Channeling Erik.

Above: Erik’s graduation photo, and the hallway I was standing in when I got the phone call.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you all. I’m moved by your comforting words, and even moreso by the actions you have taken in response to my post from one year ago. Several of you have written to me telling me that you reconnected with loved ones after reading my story. Several of you wished you had brought tissues with you to work (sorry!).

I hope that if anything, you are inspired to tell your brother or sister that you love them. That means more to us than anything else. Also, my sister Michelle started a Facebook page to promote her initiative to make bullying illegal (and punishable as such). It would mean the world to me if you would support her efforts.

Follow:
  • Wow, I am terribly sorry. To loose someone you love is tough, heartbreaking but to loose someone you love… that way, can only make it harder. I am glad that your brother knew you loved him! I am at a loss to share my sorrow for you, I have 4 siblings and to loose them… not something I can process

  • You are such a strong women, to be able to post about your brother and share everything with us is so brave of you. I cried reading this and I am now going to call my sister and mum. Life can make us forget to do such important things like this.
    My thoughts are with you and your family
    xoxo
    Jess

  • I am truly sorry for your loss. I cannot express that enough. You are inspirational, as is your mother. I wish you all the best and my thoughts are with your family.

  • Wow, what a moving and touching post. I’m not really sure what to write here but as a new reader to your blog I feel I should start by saying that I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve never lost anyone I’ve been close to so I can’t imagine how it must have felt. This post has genuinely moved me and I’m sat here with my eyes welling up. I think I’m going to call my sister tonight.My thoughts are with you and your family today.
    x

  • LaTasha

    My prayers are with you and your family. Always cherish his memory.
    BTW, I see you are trying to block out the last name but it is at the top f the obit!

    • Fixed, thank you so much Latasha. Clearly my mind wasn’t all there when I was creating this post last night. :-/

      • LaTasha

        Oh I completely understand! Hugs and prayers are with you. Truly, your love for him was great and his absence does not change that!

  • Rhi

    I am so sorry for your loss, what an awful thing for parents and a sister to have to go through. I think it’s great that you both put your energy into something as cathartic as a blog and I hope you both find comfort in it.
    There really aren’t the words xx

  • Very touching and heartbreaking story, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading this! I’m so sorry for you loss.My thoughts are with you and your family today.

    Hanne
    x

  • Vei

    Dear Christina, I am very deeply touched by your and Erics story and by the way you told it: So full of love and dealing with your grief in the most positive of all ways.Eric was almost exactly my age (11 days younger than me) and from what you told us about him, I can begin to imagine what a wonderful person he was.

    So thanks for inspiring me, not only in fashion but also in life…

  • so incredibly sad. I and other members of my family suffer from depression and so many people don’t realise how hard it can be.my thoughts are with you and I truly believe you are an inspiration for everything you have achieved. Your brother would be incredibly proud

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  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us Kristina! I was really touched and started crying… You are such a brave and inspiring person!
    Love from Croatia,

    Neris

  • Thinking of you, Kristina, and Erik and all of your family. The tears in my eyes at this moment are nothing compared to the devastation and loss you have all felt in the last two years. I hope you take some comfort knowing how much we all love you and feel for you.
    Going over to support Michelle’s endeavor. Bullying SHOULD be illegal. It causes so much unnecessary pain and suffering, and worse.

    Much love~
    V

  • I am so sorry for your loss.You are so brave to tell your story but it is so important to speak out and spread the word. I wish you all the luck with your Make Bullying Illegal campaign.

  • Today is sure to be a hard day for you & your family, but I hope you feel the warmth we are all sending you today.

  • I am sitting hear reading this post with tears welling up in my eyes. I can 100% feel the love you have for your brother…same as me. My thoughts are with you and just know that he is looking down on you and smiling.

  • I can’t even imagine the pain you must have felt. You are so strong, even if you don’t always feel like it, know that you are. He would be so happy to see what has come from this blog, how you channeled your sadness.
    Best,
    Rebecca

  • I am truly so sorry for your loss. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be to go through all of this. You are an inspiration to all of us on how to appreciate our families. My prayers are with you and your family.

  • Sending you and your family love x

  • I am SOOOO sorry hunnie….trust me when I say that I know how you feel. Today is the anniversary of my 11 yr old sons death:(Time helps….never heals:(
    Thank you so much for sharing your story…..you are an incredibly strong person!
    Hugs to you!


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  • PLEASE DELETE the link in my signature….I apologize:(

  • *tears* Kristina, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today and everyday. I admire your strength and courage and the fact that you shared this story with us.

  • MJ

    I admire your courage for sharing this story with us and you and your family are in my prayers.

  • Not a pretty or shiny or sparkly post but a grim reminder. Thank your for being so bold and sharing. I prayed for your family today.
    The Chief Blonde

  • Rhona

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. In the last year we have lost a good friend and a family member to suicide. It’s an awful experience for those left behind.

  • thinking of you again today, honey… i don’t know if you remember, but i commented last year– about my Mom who also died today, six years ago.
    one more thing we have in common– our love for texas. i grew up and lived there for the first 18 years of my life, until i got married (at 18) and moved to north carolina. (my husband, who also grew up with me in texas, is in the military and we’re stationed here). we are about to move back (for good), and i think it would be fantastic to meet you sometime. *smiles*

    anyhow… sending prayers and lots of love your way today. <3

  • Hi Kristina! This is very moving. It is being hard for me to control my emotions right now (I’m at work). I have two brothers and I love them with all my heart. Sometimes, when I know they feel sad or troubled, I wish I could have a big shinny ball of wishes and happiness to hand it to them, so I can see them fulfilling the desires of their hearts. The three of us have gone through so many things together and I am so thankful that we are very closed and that we have each other.So, you just make me realized that I have to tell them and show them how important they are to me and how my life wouldn’t be the way it is, if they are not in it.
    I know that your bother loved you, he will always love you and he is your Angel in heaven.
    Thanks for sharing your story with us and for reminding us to live in the present.
    God bless you!

  • Amy

    So sorry for your loss, I’m sure your brother was a wonderful person and it is so sad that you had to go through that. My best friend died in a scuba diving accident 4 years ago, and I watched as she was taken off life support. Life just isn’t fair sometimes, no one should die that young. Wishing you happiness in remembering the good times you had with him while he was here and comfort in the loss.

  • I am so sorry for your loss Kristina.
    You and your family are in my thoughts today.

    I hope wherever Erik is now, he is happy.

  • What a beautiful story, but so tragic! I am so sorry for your loss and you have done extremely well it seems. One thing that I cannot come to terms with is death, It confuses me, makes my head hurt and makes me doubt things. Such a horrible concept, but you realise that he’s probably happier now than he’s ever been. This made my eyes water, but in a nice way and it makes me think that writing like this is what really inspires me. Thank you for this, It was just by chance that I came across it but what a lovely chance it was! I wish you all the best:) with sympathy, Lulabella xxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • My thoughts are with you and your family today. It’s incredibly brave to share your experience with the world. My baby brother is 23 and despite our differences I cannot imagine my life without him.
    Your mother’s description of Erik on her blog paints him as an incredible young man and I hope you can take comfort in the fact that he’s no longer suffering because of the cruelty of unthinking people.

    All the best and take care. x

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Even though mental illness such as depression is much more talked about than it use to be, it can still be a shunned disease. My mother struggles with it and it always breaks me heart when she is in her low-points and speaks of ending it all.My dad has had two of his siblings commit suicide (my dad is the youngest of 9) for different reasons, one was addicted to drugs and alcohol and the other I honestly don’t know why…
    It is so important to speak up and out about what leads people to end their life to prevent someone from doing so. There are so many people/organizations willing to help. It can be hard in the midst of the darkness. I am so glad that you have had a strong knitted group and family to get you through this tough time.

  • What a tragic story, I’m truly sorry to you and your family for the loss you all have endured. A friend of mine lost his son to suicide and started a Foundation to help get word out to young people that there is help out there and people who care much like what your sister is doing. Your beautiful memories of Erik are such a tribute to the caring soul he was.

  • As the oldest of eight kids and now a mom of two, I am in tears! We almost lost my sister several years ago to lupus and I remember how hard I cried when I got the phone call from my mom. I couldn’t even sit in a car. I can’t begin to image the grief you and your mom went through. I tried to stop myself from reading since I’m sitting at work, but I just couldn’t.
    I’m thinking of you, your mom and your brother today. Hugs.

  • I am truly sorry and deeply sadden for your loss. I have a younger brother too and I just can’t imagine him not being here. You have probably helped more people than you know with your story.

  • Azu

    I’m very sorry about your loss, Kristina. I know I don’t always comment, but I do read all of your posts. This post is especially important to you and I want you to know that I will be praying for you, your brother, and your family. I can’t possibly imagine what it would be like to lose a brother. Although I don’t know what that’s like, I do know what it’s like to lose a friend to suicide. It is so painful. I even feel guilty sometimes because I think to myself, “why didn’t I just call her?” or “If only I had told her how I felt about her.” I hope you don’t ever feel yourself regretting anything. It’s hard, but I am learning that time is a healer.
    I also want to say that you are a strong woman. You really are! I mean, to spill your thoughts and feelings about the darkest day of your life takes a lot of courage. If only we knew the real reason behind why most of us start blogging. I read this other girl’s blog whose mother passed away. She started blogging as a way of coping with her loss. I only hope that one day I can be as strong as you are to share my own reason for blogging. I’m scared, but I would really like to open up like you did.

    PS. Those are some great pictures you have there. I can definitely see the resemblance. Your parents made some gorgeous kiddos 🙂

    God Bless! xoxo

    Azu

  • amy cavanaugh

    thank you for letting all us Channeling Erikers into your family-we all stand by you today

  • Su

    I’ve been following your mum’s blog all year. It was and is such a blessing to know that Elisa is there; laughing and crying with us like we are part of the Medhus clan. You all work so hard and well to spread the word and let us know that there is more than just this life. Thank you Kristina for being so open, so giving and loving with your family so that we can all learn, so that we can all be comforted daily. From unbelievable pain and loss comes incredible guidance, wisdom and reassurance for the rest of us. Erik, you and your family are wonderful, beautiful spirits. Can’t thank you enough. Don’t stop the pranks!

  • I admire the strength of you and your family to try and overcome such a heart-breaking experience. I’m fairly new to “Pretty Shiny Sparkly” and had no idea this wonderful blog grew from something so tragic. You all are in my thoughts.

  • Kristina,
    you are such a beautiful, strong woman and i’m glad you shared this post today in honor of Erik. i remember reading your initial post about him several months ago and just can’t even wrap my arms around how difficult that must have been to go through, and the days that have followed. you and your family are in my thoughts and heart today!

    <3

  • Lesley_FL

    <3

  • Oh gosh Kristina. I don’t cry a lot, but you got me. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    So glad you had such great supportive people to be by your side through it all.

  • When I read your post last year it touched me in a way that few things ever do because it made me reflect on my relationship with my own brother. I mentioned it then, but I’ll say it again – he is my world. We are extremely close and I think much of that has to do with the fact that he is autistic. Instead of that being some sort of wedge between the two of us it has brought us closer together. I can’t imagine a life without him, so I can only guess at the pain you and your family feel every day.
    I am so, so sorry for the loss of your Erik and am sending lots of prayers to you and yours. I think it is amazing that you remember him so publicly every year and I think it is amazing that you and your mother both turned to blogging as a way to work through the pain of your loss.

    Hugs.

  • Kristina, this post is so beautiful in its own way. I commend you for being able to write this and share such a personal and sensitive part of you with all of us! I had no idea your blog stemmed from Erik’s death..until now. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers – he is with you each and every day in spirit!
    xo
    Marissa

  • Gosh Kristina, I am so sorry you and your family have suffered such a loss. I have so much admiration for you. I can’t not imagine carrying on if that were to happen to my only brother, my baby brother. Just the thought, scares me so much. Thank you for opening this piece of your heart and journey to us. I feel honored to be a witness of your healing and your strength.
    God Bless.

  • Natalie

    I remember bawling from last years touching post and this morning I woke up to more dried tears on my laptop. Kristina, I can never truly know how such an experience can break a person, but know that my heart goes out to you and your family. Sending many virtual hugs your way.

  • I read this earlier in the day, and was still thinking about your story hours later. So, I thought I would come back and let you know how sorry I am for your loss, and admire you for sharing.

  • Diamonte

    My brother was murdered last week on Monday September 26, 2011. Reading this blog gave me comfort to know that I am not alone in the world and that I can move forward in life albeit with a broken heart. Thank you for sharing this story.

    • Su

      I’m sorry for your loss Diamonte, sending you love and healing vibes.

  • I appreciate you sharing your story. I have a younger brother and now with my mom gone he is all I have. You are so brave. Even when you thought you were weak you stood stronger than you know. xoxo

  • This story is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss, but you are an inspiration and such a strong individual. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  • Patrick

    Kristina: Your brother Erik and your mother have been such an inspiration to me that I can’t properly describe it, so I won’t even try. Suffice to say, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, from the top of my heart, for your work on the website and blog.- Patrick

  • Thank you for sharing this with all of us, my prayers are with you and your family. I’m calling my Brother tomorrow, I don’t call him enough…Thank You.

  • Nancy

    Dear Kristina, I’m blog member Nancy from Argentina. Your brother Erik came to see me back in 2009 at the request of my son Santi who would be exactly your age should he be among us. Your mother knows about this amazing encounter. I promised her to write down the whole story “in my own words” to share it with everybody in channelingerik but I haven’t had the time or better to say energy to do it yet. (My mom died in June this year). I wish to tell you I’ll be forever thankful to Erik for guiding me by the hand to your mother’s blog which was what he said Santi insisted he should do for me.
    I haven’t talked to a medium and though I have important questions to ask Santi and of course I desperately need to tell him I love him, I have something to cling to till I get to talk to him in a more direct way . Hope what I’ve written here helps grieving souls to find some comfort. Remember: Death is just a four letter word (Debby Sue, a dear NDEr and friend) and “Death is a nasty word” said Pam Reynolds, another beloved NDEr who’s already HOME. God bless you.

  • Kristina, Your post a year ago about your brother, Erik, one of the first posts I read when I discovered your blog. I was not at work, but I did weep. I am sure that your brother was a prince to you as my brother is to me. I am so sorry about your lovely prince. He looks like a prince to me. I thank you for sharing your deepest deepest feelings and pain. God bless you, darling.

  • I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain you went through, but I have lost my best friend and Uncle to suicide and it’s heartbreaking. Suffering from mental illness myself, I’ve often felt that hopelessness, but having lost those people, I now know I could never do that myself. I guess, I try to see that as the positive out of the loss of my loved ones, they have taught me to be stronger.

  • dear kristine,i could not stop reading your mom’s blog yesterday, i cried a lot. im a mother of 2 boys. i cannot understand it, yet im so glad she has been communicating with him. i wrote an email for her because i had a very interesting experience as i was reading.
    God bless you and your family.
    milena

  • What a truly difficult loss it must be. You are a strong person, and have made a great tribute to your brother. I’m so very sorry that you had to expericence this. I’m sure you are helping many people through your efforts.God Bless

  • suicide doesn’t just end a loved ones life, but it leaves behind an emptiness and guilt for those left behind. I know 2 people in my life who committed suicide and I always wonder what I could have done differently, but when someone is ready to leave this world….there is little we can do. Thanks for sharing such a personal and painful part of your life, I hope you and your family celebrate the many amazing memories he left behind.
    ps. I would love to support your friend on bullying campaign, but I’m against the constant criminalization of children’s behavior and over populating our prisons and creating damaging socio-political structure for any civilized society. I rather we focus on fostering and implementing an environment of tolerance and respect in both school and public forum than trying to arrest and imprison bullies who themselves were/ are bullied at home or elsewhere. I blame school administrators, teachers and parents who ignore and pretend its not a big deal to terrorize a child.

  • I read this and I was touched. My heart goes out to you and your family. God’s grace.

  • Girl, this is my first time here and I have to say this is the most touching, full of life, amazingly written post I have ever read. Thank you for opening your heart to all of us to learn and see how love really needs to shine! I appreciate you, thank you!
    xxoo

  • kateb

    KristinaI am truely touched by your post.Your mother and yourself are very caring women ,I am so inspired by your beautiful mother Elisa and Eriks blog site.It has assisted me so much on my journey.I am thinking of you and your family and sending you my deepest love and healing energy.xxx

  • I’m sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story. I almost lost my brother to suicide and you described exactly the emotions I felt when I got the phone call. I dropped everything, drove an hour in LA traffic sobbing to rush to the hospital where they were pumping his stomach. I will definitely support your sister’s cause!

  • depression is such a fog that many of us don’t understand…I just don’t have any other words to share.
    I hope he is at peace and smiling now.
    All my thoughts and prayers. I’m at work so I’m afraid to read your first post…
    Anniversaries are a bitch.

    Courtney
    I Can Be Many Things

  • We are always here for you, my love!! I admire how you’ve continued to survive throughout the years despite what you’ve been through … you truly are a beacon of hope and light.

  • Belinda

    God, I am so sorry. The funeral of a younger brother is surreal and when I look back on my own experience (my 20 year old brother died in a car accident), everything blurs and becomes slow motion. The agony is mind numbing. He was so handsome, Kristina. I see a resemblance between the two of you, and I love the name Erik spelled with a *K*. The love and blood ties between siblings is precious, and nothing else compares. Huge hugs to you. You will see him again when the day comes…a long way off, God willing, but you will be reunited. I believe that for you, and for myself and my beloved brother.

  • So sorry for your loss. I couldn’t imagine going through this with my little bro. You’re an inspiration. God Bless.

  • As someone who has seen family members deal with depression, I’m so sorry to hear this story. I wish your brother could be with you now and didn’t feel like that was the only option. It’s great you’re able to share his story. Hopefully someone who needs help will read this.

  • Kristina reading this pulls me apart. My brother took his own life last year and I know the absolute, unbelievable devastation and loss you and your family feels. It’s not fair, is it.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss and touched by your story. I have a sister with a learning disability as well and she also deals with depression. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  • I’m so sorry Kristina. I just got chills reading this. xoxo

  • Kristina,
    Thank you for sharing your story, especially when the wounds are so fresh. My father passed away over 15 years ago, but rethinking and reliving his death brings tears to my eyes. I can only imagine the hurt in your heart from a brother passing. I’m glad that you have such supportive friends and family. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  • I’m not a person that starts crying easily. But I did. Suicide is a subject that wounds me … Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad that blogging helped with recovery.

  • sallie

    I received “that” devastating phone call about my own brother only 7 weeks and 2 days ago. What a tragic connection to share with you (in additional to our love of things girly and sparkly.) Such a devastating, deplorable beast, suicide. I pray for your family’s healing (and for my own.) Om Shanti

  • Wow, I am truly sorry. Thanks for sharing something so intense and personal.I can’t imagine. I hope you can find some comfort and peace despite the pain.

  • Oh lady, I know exactly how you feel. In 2011 my Husband’s best friend shot himself and my 2 year old nephew died in a house fire, within a week of each other. Some times our pain is too much too bear. It is so sad that he is lost to you. I know it’s cliche to say he is in a better place, but he is. He isn’t hurting anymore.-Ash
    http://www.thestylizedwannabe.com

  • Oh lady, I know exactly how you feel. In 2011 my Husband’s best friend shot himself and my 2 year old nephew died in a house fire, within a week of each other. Some times our pain is too much too bear. It is so sad that he is lost to you. I know it’s cliche to say he is in a better place, but he is. He isn’t hurting anymore.
    -Ash
    http://www.thestylizedwannabe.com

  • Kristine Nelson Carr

    As a fan of Channeling Erik, your mom, Elisa, and all the wonderful mediums that channel your brother Erik, I found the link to your You Tube channel. Much love and light Kristina! Thank you for sharing.