To be vulnerable you must have courage and when you find that courage you have found freedom. There are so many things in life that weigh us down. We carry that weight on our shoulders even when it becomes so unbearably heavy because the alternative of letting go is scary; it’s uncharted territory.
When you lose someone by suicide, freeing your shoulders of that weight feels impossible. It feels impossible because they’re not supposed to be gone yet; they’re supposed to still be here.
All it takes is one single moment – one single second, for your life to be forever changed. My family and I lost Daniel by suicide on December 4th, 2015.
He wasn’t supposed to be gone. He was supposed to play Scattergories with us on Christmas and be there to give my sister the Christmas present he had hidden away for her. He was supposed to see his 31st birthday and his favorite comedian that spring. He was supposed to see his business run under a new name. He was supposed to be here to watch his nephews grow up and teach them how to play the piano. He was supposed to fall in love and have a family of his own. He was supposed to grow old.
He was supposed to be here, but he’s not.
My biggest fear was losing someone I love and, though I wish I hadn’t, now I’ve faced that fear because I had to. I had to face that fear because Daniel was in pain; because Daniel was quietly suffering in a way that I can’t understand.
My whole life I trusted Daniel. He was always a compass to me. He was the older brother I never had. I trusted him so much that, for years, he had me convinced he was one of the Backstreet Boys. Whenever I needed to know what was right or which direction I should adjust my sails, I knew I could always look to him for guidance and a complimentary laugh.
In his passing I knew I had to continue to trust him. I had to trust him even though I couldn’t understand it. I had to trust him that it was his time to go. We don’t know what he was feeling inside and how badly it hurt, but we do know he couldn’t carry that pain anymore – and that’s okay.
Even though Daniel is no longer in pain, the pain doesn’t go away, instead, it is passed on. When we lost Daniel we gained his pain, and it’s a pain so deep and so indescribable.
I carried that pain.
Under that pain I stumbled, and fell, and even crumbled. My heart ached and my bones hurt. Time was an escaping blur. Then one night I started writing. I wrote to Daniel. I told him about the pain his absence has left behind and about the tears I was afraid to cry, the sleepless nights, and how I would give anything to have him back.
Since losing him, I feared vulnerability and I bundled up that fear with my pain and packed it on my shoulders. But suddenly with every word the weight rolled off my shoulders little by little; it rolled off my shoulders as the tears rolled down my cheeks and it all fell onto the pages. No longer was I carrying my fear and my pain but, instead, I was just carrying Daniel.
Through my vulnerability I was free; I am free. For me, writing is a path to freedom from the pain that losing Daniel left behind. Writing is my way of letting it go so that I can carry Daniel and tell the world how he lived; because it’s not about how he died.
Writing is my catharsis.
Hold on. Breathe in. Let go. Repeat.
Daniel Heath Kennell was born on February 3rd, 1985. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. He was the star of his high school basketball team, an entrepreneur, a musician, a jokester, and a DJ. He was a smile on the face for anyone that knew him. Losing Daniel is a wound that will never truly heal, but as a family we have forged on, working to let go of the pain so that we can carry Daniel and tell the world how he lived.
To read more, visit the ‘Dear Daniel’