Thanks folks. I veer between feeling almost normal and feeling distraught/suicidal. I'm at the almost normal stage now, so let's see if I can talk about it without breaking down into tears... :/
A bit of background first of all. I'm the youngest out of four children: I have three older brothers. Brother 1 is the youngest and is the one who committed suicide, brother 2 is the middle one and brother 3 is the eldest. It's brother 3 who has mild Crohn's, but also the only one out of the four of us who has escaped being a total screw up.
Growing up we had quite a difficult time of it. Our dad was ultra strict and remote and it was rarely a happy atmosphere when he was around. Apparently the two older boys bullied brother 1 and I got bullied by all 3 in turn. I had a difficult relationship with brother 1. He could occasionally be kind but sometimes he could be a cruel b@stard too. It wasn't until I was much older I realised he had problems of his own. He was admitted to a psychiatric ward as a teenager (something both parents had forgotten until I reminded them). He also clashed with my dad constantly and was eventually chucked out of home.
As adults we all went our separate ways. Brother 1 married a European woman but a few years later they split up. It was an amicable split and they remained friends afterwards. We always thought my brother never really got over the breakup and continued to hold a candle for his ex wife. (They had no kids by the way.) Brother 1 wasn't happy in the UK and went to live in Eastern Europe. Naturally I saw much less of him, but occasionally he would come over to England and stay with my parents for a week or two. There was often an underlying tension to these visits. And about 3 years ago the sh!t really hit the fan. The whole story would take a while to tell, but in a nutshell my brother, who had been drinking with my mum, went into my dad's study to confront him over something. My dad stormed out of the house and spent the night at brother 3's place.
My dad afterwards was weird beyond belief about the episode. He claimed he was scared of being attacked; rubbish. I was standing outside the study at the time - my brother never even raised his voice. He's a talker, not a fighter. Anyway, some time later my brother sent my dad a conciliatory letter. My dad replied; even though his reply accepted the olive branch, it struck me once again as being peculiarly unpleasant in tone. I wouldn't have liked being on the receiving end of it.
That's not to say I am perfect. In 2014 (or was it '13? I don't remember), my brother came to stay for a week, and I wouldn't speak to him. It was nothing he had done wrong, but at the time I felt like I couldn't cope with him - I was still living at home and going through the most dreadful time with my parents, particularly my dad. At the end of his stay me and my brother had possibly the worse and most bitter row we'd ever had. Actually it must have been in 2013 because I hadn't received my autism diagnosis yet. The next time I saw my brother, I had moved out of the parental home and received the autism diagnosis - which my brother knew about. We got on much better that visit, which was the last time he ever visited England. But it's not of the remotest comfort to me now.
The truth is, I often thought about emailing my brother and all the things I would say to him. But I never did it. Laziness, a reluctance to engage, fear of saying the wrong thing - I don't know. I just never did. For better or worse he was my closest brother to me in age and I felt a certain kinship with him, but I never expressed it. And never can now.
I took a break from typing this 'cos I was absolutely shattered and needed a long rest. And now I'm not sure where to begin again. I'll just wrap up what happened quickly. On Monday my parents got a visit from a policeman bringing the bad news. On Tuesday my dad phoned me and asked me to come over - he wouldn't say what about over the phone. As it so happened I had an Entyvio infusion that afternoon, but came as soon as I could afterwards. And that's when I found out my brother had committed suicide. He hanged himself, so not exactly any doubt about his intentions. He didn't leave much of a note: just instructions for his ashes to be thrown over his girlfriend's garden. (The girlfriend, of course, lives in the same country as my brother does. In short my brother doesn't want even his ashes to come back to the UK.)
My parents are distraught, although in different ways. My mum blames herself, my dad doesn't accept the slightest bit of blame. He is obviously devastated as well, don't get me wrong. But it does anger me the way he never accepts the slightest iota of responsibility for how his children turned out. He was a dreadful father in many ways, but he won't have it. Just says that's how his own father was, and how every father was in the past, and he's not like one of these new-fangled modern fathers.
Oh, and that time brother 1 went into the study causing my dad to storm out of the house? He was upset on my behalf. I'd told him my dad had hit me a few times (true), and he was outraged. Anyway, I nearly got into a blazing row with my dad yesterday, but walked out of the room before it could really blow up.
I miss my brother. I never thought I would say that, but I do. I never got the chance to go and stay with him in Eastern Europe, which I would have liked. I am also worried about brother 2. He is alone as hell and prone to depression. Brother 1 said to my mum once that not only did he think about committing suicide every day, brother 2 apparently did too. Yes, we're a morbid family. Brother 3 is the only one who is relatively stable and normal, and who has a family of his own. He has also taken over the practical side of things and wants to fly over to the town my brother lived in to speak to the people who knew him.
Anyway, I'm sorry for the novel folks. I tried to keep it brief and to the point, but it's so hard when it feels like there's a million things to say.