Losing two brothers to suicide, Alex finds a community at SafePlace

Our dear Grief Support Services volunteer facilitator, Alex Magyar (pictured center), lost his older brother (Adam, pictured left) to suicide on December 8, 2017 and his younger brother (Josh, pictured right) to suicide on October 24, 2019. Here, he shares the story of how his grief has moved him to become a facilitator with our Grief Support Services where he is able to help other suicide loss survivors.

There were four years between Adam and I. Growing up, we had a typical brotherly relationship, and we did not really get close until my early 20s. When Adam passed, my world was torn apart.

Adam’s passing was completely unexpected. Part of why I think that I had such a hard time with his passing is that we hadn’t come together in a close bond until much later in my life. I felt like I was robbed of that relationship. In addition, it shattered my family. Prior to Adam’s passing, my family was really close. Since then, it feels like we’re all trying to pick up the pieces and put something back together that will never be the same.

I started going to SafePlace meetings in January of 2018. I was nervous when I first started going, but I found that as I continued to attend and share my experience that there were others there who were going through similar situations. I quickly discovered that my nerves disappeared and found a support system to help me cope with some of the feelings I had after Adam’s passing.

Being a loss survivor, there may be times where you feel very alone and it may be hard to have conversations with your spouse and family about what you’re going through. With other survivors who weren’t family members, I felt more comfortable sharing and was more receptive to ideas on how to cope. I found myself going regularly and noticed at a certain point, I transitioned from looking for advice to being more supportive. That’s when I thought about getting more involved as a volunteer facilitator with Samaritans’ Grief Support Services program.

The facilitator training helped me understand how to really take a step back, listen, and how to read a room. As a facilitator, we are there to provide a safe place for people to talk about their experiences and to guide the conversation along when needed.

Then, in October of 2019, I lost my younger brother, Josh, to suicide. There were 18 months between Josh and I, and I was definitely much closer to Josh than I was to Adam. When Josh took his life, it tore open old wounds, but in some ways I wasn’t surprised. Josh struggled with severe depression, substance abuse, addiction, and often battled with his mental health over the last decade. I was often the one he would call when he hit those dark spots, and I’ve found that part of my grieving process included a sense of relief that he’s finally at peace.

I found myself at odds because I wasn’t feeling the same way as I did after Adam’s passing. After losing Josh, I was more relieved instead of being in a state of grief. I wouldn’t say that I have fully moved on from Josh’s passing, so to speak, but I had a better understanding of why. Josh texted me the night he took his life, so in some ways I have a sense of closure that I didn’t have with Adam’s passing.

Presently, I’ve come to terms with my grief and accepted that their loss is a part of me that I will carry for the rest of my life. What was once uncontrollable grieving has become manageable over time. I’m still getting used to life without them and discovering this new normal but, as I move forward, I know that they will always be with me each and every step along the way.

Being a Samaritans facilitator has helped my own grieving process. When I’m feeling a certain way, I now take a step back and ask myself questions, like “why am I feeling this way?” or “what’s triggering my emotions?” or “is this the time and place to be feeling this?” In a way, I’m guiding an internal conversation to help me through what I am feeling.

Through Samaritans, I’ve also found a network of people who are incredibly supportive, caring, and uplifting. When Josh passed, many reached out to send their condolences and to lend a helping hand. Through my participation in SafePlace and as a volunteer, I found a sense of community that will walk alongside me, so I don’t have to walk through this experience alone.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide and would like to learn more about our programming for suicide loss survivors, please visit our Grief Support Services page.