This Is Life

I continually remind myself why I share about the loss of my brother. Grief is something that can easily be hid away in the corners of your room. It is not pretty. The finality of death is something we all have to come to in our lives. It is the end of this life on earth and all of us will someday meet it. Our culture does all it can to prolong the conversations we have of death and grieving. Culture has a mentality of living and very rarely is grieving understood until the moment it greets us at our door.

In my late 20’s I experienced something that many at that age have not. Loosing a sibling to suicide was not in the college handbook. Pursuing dreams and following the well laid out career plan didn’t lend itself to working your way through grief. A major shift happened when I learned that life is really not all about living and planning, but rather about death and grieving. The one thing that we all have in common is one day we will all die. How are we going to grieve when it comes to the ones we love? I constantly find myself thinking that if we lived in a society that made space for grief, we would be a whole lot better off.

Our day to day lives are struck by an array of emotions when we lose a loved one and many times we are required to move on with life as usual. What happened to mourning? Society makes little room for mourning the loss of a loved one. The grieving may often be found in the corner of the room tearfully dredging through the day with no space to truly think and mourn for the ones lost.

I recently pulled out a poem I wrote and was reminded yet again why I continue to write on this topic. My brother spent his life on earth with mental health struggles and in just a moment of despair his life was gone. The world continues to hold on to the stigma that just the word suicide brings, meanwhile, I spend my days reminding myself that my brother encountered one moment of despair that changed the course of my life and so many others who knew him.


This is Life

The last touch of your hand. The very last joyful laughter heard.

Each moment traps itself away in my tears.

The pain of losing you. The moments of not knowing what to do.

I miss you.

May the world know your story. May the confusion, frustration, and pain from within ring.

I want your truth to be heard and felt for others who may feel despair.

May your loss be a reminder that this is life.


  1. Stephanie January 20, 2016 / 4:34 PM

    Keep on smiling friend 🙂

    • Joanna January 23, 2016 / 8:43 AM

      thank you friend. 🙂

  2. Leyah January 20, 2016 / 7:39 PM

    Very beautiful JoJo!

    Your brother was loved by anybody that knew him, he had that loving spirit about him. I remember like yesterday the many gatherings we had at your parents home back in Duluth, and he would sit and just laugh in the corner. It was not a loud laugh like I tend to have but a “smiley laugh” that could make anybody’s day. His smile was huge and so full of life! I have ran into 3 guys in the last few years that mimicked Jon….. 100%!! I caught calling one of them Jon also….. Lol!!!! On accident! It’s amazing how God can throw people in my life that look and act like him, to remind me of the one and only Jon R! :):) He will never be forgotten!

    We love you and think of you very often! We have so many memories —- together and things that we have been thru in our short lives…… only make us a stronger and better person as we walk thru this life.

    I’m so not a writer but I hope this means something to u. ❤️Leyah

    • Joanna January 23, 2016 / 8:45 AM

      Yes, it was wonderful to hear your memory of him. It reminded me of his smile. Thank you! 🙂

  3. Jennifer L. January 21, 2016 / 10:39 AM

    Thanks for sharing, Jo. 🙂

  4. Amber McNair January 21, 2016 / 10:08 PM

    Thank you Jo. Jon will be forever in our hearts. This read came at a good time (Celina’s anniversary) I needed this. I love you!

    • Joanna January 23, 2016 / 8:48 AM

      Amber, Celina is missed in so many ways. I know the bond you had with her will never go away and you still feel her absence deeply to this day. Love you.

  5. carrie January 26, 2016 / 1:54 PM


    Wow, I really admire this piece. You have a valid point and I couldn’t agree more. I can’t imagine how you felt because suicide is like being robbed of goodbyes, that’s really tough. I miss you and love you friend.


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