I am taking a walk with someone today whom I have only begun to know. He’s saying something about “my twin brother and I…”
“–Wait. You have a twin brother?”
“Did. He died, oh, about three years ago.”
I fumble through the awkward what-do-you-say’s in my head and settle on, “How is that for you?” Only because my time was up and I had to say something.
“Honestly, it hasn’t been awful. I reached acceptance really early.”
“Oh.” I don’t have a response for that because nobody has ever answered with anything other than: “Awful. Devastating. Catastrophic.”
I do the panic thing and start rambling on about my own experiences with grief because what the fuck else is there to do. He says he felt guilt about not doing grief right until a friend told him however he’s doing it is doing it right.
SomWe get back, he takes off and I open my laptop to Facebook.
“We’ve lost Som Jordan,” posts someone.
“What do you mean, lost?” says someone else.
Nobody is talking about cause of death, which means it’s suicide. I know that already but I pretend I don’t know and ask around just hoping it’s something else.
The paper later reports that Isamu “Som” Jordan, a huge influence in Spokane’s music and journalism scene, was found in his home this morning. Cause of death: apparent suicide.
There is this prevailing struggle with how did he possibly not see the glow around him that everybody else saw. Everybody’s posting this music video he made with Flying Spiders. The only text they include is the song’s title: “Spokane’s Finest.”
I know nothing about anything about this situation. I do know it’s not coincidence that those people we think are invincible, brilliant, miles above us — our icons — also often suffer very deeply. Searching for truth does not turn up unicorns and rainbows.
Now that that’s said, I want to talk about grief, and that you should do it however you want.
You don’t have to cry to care. You can go to a vigil or not go to a vigil. Nobody gets to tell you you didn’t know him well enough to grieve or that you’re not grieving sufficiently or right.
Today, as I grieve the loss of a friend, a lot of grief from past losses tumbles onto me as well. It all feels very messy and maybe someone would tell me I was missing the point.
When people pry about the details, some may say they’re missing the point. Maybe they are. Or maybe they have questions because they care. Because suicide is not a thing we talk about much, and it’s confusing and it hurts and maybe they feel like answers will make it hurt less. (Spoiler: It will very likely make it hurt more.)
When people spit out platitudes on the internet, some may say they’re missing the point. When they do, or they don’t, organize a benefit concert. When they speculate. When they try to talk about suicide in general or death in general or grief in general. When they do or don’t cry.
This is the messy that we’re challenged to navigate with grace: simultaneously grieving and giving others the space to do their own version of that. There are a lot of us because Som had a generous spirit. Let that be a good thing.