Today was my brother’s memorial service. In his honor, I thought I’d share the eulogy I read today.

Scott 1Nobody ever wants to find themselves in the place my parents and I find ourselves in now. Anytime someone dies young, it is a tragedy. When that person takes their own life a whole new layer of grief is added.

However, I am, by nature an optimist and an idealist. God says in Romans 8:28 that He works all things for our good. I truly believe that through God’s grace and mercy, even in the tragedy of my brother Scott’s death we can find meaning and purpose.

The truth is, my brother suffered from mental illness, and if his death can open up a conversation about what it means to have mental illness, it is a start. In our society and even – maybe even especially – in our churches, mental illness is something nobody really talks about. It is associated with shame and the person suffering is often stigmatized.

If someone gets diagnosed with cancer or heart disease or another serious illness, we rally around them. We bring meals, send cards and offer our support and encouragement.

The person who suffers with mental illness too often suffers alone. Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown. Despite so many medical advancements, the human brain still remains mostly a mystery.

But if my brother’s death will cause one person to reach out to offer comfort, encouragement and support to a person with mental illness, or if will cause one person to realize they are not alone and their illness is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a start. If we can begin the conversation of what it means to have mental illness and how we can support and help people who deal with this on a daily basis, then my brother’s death will have purpose and it will have meaning.

The truth is living day to day with mental illness is difficult. You and I take for granted getting out of bed in the morning, going to work and all the myriad of daily tasks we do, almost without thinking. For the person with mental illness, those mundane things are a struggle. It is like strapping a 50 pound weight on your back and trying to go through your daily routine. It can be overwhelming and exhausting. Most days are a battle. Winston Churchill called the depression that plagued him much of his life, the black dog, always on his heels.

Mental illness is also a liar and a thief. It twists the person’s thoughts so they are overwhelmed by fear and despair and helplessness. It steals a person’s potential, his dreams, his relationships and in some cases, like my brother, his very life.

Just like someone suffering from cancer or diabetes, though, a person with mental illness is so much more than their illness. The biggest tragedy to me today is if you left this place and only remembered the end of Scott’s life.

My brother was so much more than his illness. He was and always will be my cool older brother. When I was a little girl, my brother seemed to me to be this shining light. He had all this energy and he was so much fun.

If you knew him at all, you will remember how he sort of came into a room like a mini-tornado. His energy and enthusiasm was infectious. If it was Christmas, he had on his Santa hat – usually the one with leopard fur trim. When we were kids, he was definitely the risk taker out of the two of us. He spent a whole year in a cast because he broke the same arm three times. He’d get one cast off, and something else would happen. I was beginning to think his graduation pictures would feature that cast!

I remember one day, he was doing wheelies on his bike and the tire got caught in the drain, flipping him over the handle bars. My Grandma McColm happened to be visiting at the time and she put baking soda on his arm, which was skinned from wrist to elbow. I could hear him hollering all the way up in my room.

I remember another time, when Brock was turning 4, Scott – who lived in Michigan at the time – came swooping in on his birthday with this giant blue bear. The kids loved it. Well, Brody loved it after he realized it wasn’t going to eat him or anything. Hanging out with Scott was always an adventure.

He did everything with enthusiasm and with his whole self. When he came to the boys’ basketball games, you better believe he was decked out from head to toe in Temple gear. He was their most loyal (and loudest) fan. When he went to Brody’s free throw competition, he started to clap and whistle. I had to tell him you couldn’t do that until it was over. He was somewhat disgruntled that he couldn’t show Brody his support from the stands.

Scott was a people person. I have never met someone – with maybe the exception of my friend Amber – who knew everyone everywhere you went. He even met the guy who owned the Animal Planet channel and house sat for him. I’ve lived here for 28 years. My brother didn’t really start living here until 2011 but he knew way more people than I did.

He was also crazy smart. I think he probably had a photographic memory – at least he’s one of the few people I know who could ace a test he never studied for! He could take apart something mechanical, fix it and put it back together. I remember we were having trouble with this recliner and he came over, took it apart and fixed it.

Scott was also very compassionate. His voice mail encouraged callers not just to leave a message, but to make a difference by serving at a homeless shelter, adopting a pet in need or donating to a cause. You could find him on Thanksgiving and during the holidays serving meals to the homeless or needy. My brother and I shared a love of animals. He volunteered at the Humane Society often and he couldn’t pass up an abandoned animal. He always had a pack of dogs and cats that he rescued. He specialized in the hopeless cases, the dogs or cats that nobody else wanted. Scott had a real heart for rescuing the abandoned. Sometimes, I think by rescuing those four-legged friends, he was rescuing himself a little bit at the same time. Despite his own struggles – or maybe because of them – he wanted so much to help others.

Scott could also be amazingly thoughtful. He loved to buy gifts for people and really made it into an art form. From the gift itself to the wrapping and even the tissue paper, he worked hard to give not just a gift but something meaningful to the recipient.

He noticed what you liked and what your interests were. He found this vintage book about sheepherding collies for me once. I still have that book. He would buy OSU things – despite being a rather rabid Michigan fan – for my son and my husband. He haunted Hobby Lobby for art supplies for Brody.

One time, he even put in newspaper that had an Ohio State football game story on it in one of my husband’s gifts because he knew Bruce was a big Buckeye fan. Now, sometimes, he didn’t quite hit the mark, but even the misses were meaningful because he put so much thought into those gifts.

Scott had the ability to not just look at someone but to really see them. So many times, we are so busy and we rush from one thing to another, not taking the time to really see the people around us, but not Scott.

I remember one time I had to have this surgery on my ear. Now, you need to know I used to be deathly afraid of needles. I still don’t like them, but at least I don’t pass out anymore at the sight of one. But at the time, the thing I was dreading the most was the IV they would have to put in my hand. The nurse came in with all of her equipment. Everyone was kind of chattering away, but my brother saw the petrified look on my face. He came over and squeezed my hand hard. “Look at me, Rosi,” I remember him saying.

Yes, my brother was like a shining light, and now that he is gone, my world is a darker place, as I think it probably is for many of you here today. Although he didn’t really realize it, Scott made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. I will always miss him – his compassion, his energy and his enthusiasm. It will always make me sad that he lost his battle with mental illness. But even though his battle here didn’t end in victory, he still won the war. In I Thessalonians 4:13, Paul tells the Thessalonians that they don’t grieve as people who have no hope. And the thing is, I have that hope. I know my brother was saved and that today, he is at peace in the presence of his Savior. His struggle, his daily battle – it’s over.

The same God that my brother is with now is the same God that has shown up for myself and my family in so many big and small ways since last Thursday – from how the officer told my parents, to reconciled relationships, to encouraging phone calls and messages. It’s because of that hope I can say today that God IS good. He IS faithful and He IS kind. Quite frankly, I don’t know how anybody can get through something like this without that hope. It’s because of that hope that I know, even though I didn’t get to say goodbye to him in this life, I will say hello to him in the next.

29 comments on “Saying Good-Bye to My Brother”

  1. Rosanne, I knew today at the church that you had that peace that passes all understanding. When you were a student, I knew what a wonderful writer you were. As a writer for the Lima News, I could see your growth and improvement. This, my dear former student and now friend, is a masterpiece. Thank you for sharing it and I too pray that people would seek to understand mental illness and not shun it. You took a powerful step in helping people understand as they read this. Thank you and I will continue to pray for you as you grieve a life too soon ended.

    • Thanks so much Sandy for your kind words and your prayers. I prayed that I could honor Scott’s life, but still help people to understand what he went through.

      • Dearest Rosanne,
        I didn’t know of your brother’s death until now. I wish I had known before seeing you at the branch this morning and I would have waited to put a hug on you after the story time. Such a beautiful tribute to your brother! Your gift for writing and words is such a ministry for others. God bless you! Sending you love and prayers during this time of grief.
        Debbie B

  2. Rosanne, What a breathtaking tribute! He was so blessed to have you as a sister! My heart and prayers go out to you and your family! For many years I dealt with depression, it is a very lonely place. May your tribute touch many lives and help them in a mighty way! Hugs to you my friend!

    • Thanks, Amy! My hope is that maybe by sharing this to a wider audience it will at least start a conversation. 🙂

  3. You captured Scott’s life so beautifully. What a wonderful tribute! I’m so glad God enabled you to share in such a wonderful way. You were an encouragement to me and to many others – I’m sure.

    There’s been mental illness in my extended family, and no one really talked about it. Your comments helped bring light to the issue, and helped me realize I need to be more involved in supporting my family.

    Rosanne, God has given you such boldness. I’ve always appreciated the fact that you speak what’s on your heart, even when the topic is tough. As your friend, I’ve never had to wonder what’s on your mind – you readily share.

    I’m praying that through this difficulty, God will continue to give you opportunities to share and encourage those around you. I’ve been praying through Colossians 4:3-6, and I prayed this for you today:

    Dear God,

    Please comfort my friend. Give her your peace. Open doors of opportunity for her that she would be able to share you with others. Make it clear to her what she should speak. Help her to walk in your wisdom, and make the most of this time. Let her speech be gracious. Help her know how to answer every man. Help her give a “reason for the hope that is in her.” Work this together for your good. Amen

    Love you, Rosanne.

    • Thank you so much, Aimee. I love the prayer you shared and I want you to know it means a lot to me! 🙂

  4. How beautiful! What a testimony. I never knew Scott but now feel that I do! Thank you for sharing. God uses what Satan means as harm to bring glory to the Name of Christ. God has been glorified in this eulogy!

    • Thank you, Jeannine. I really do believe I will have a ring side seat to the good God will bring from this tragedy. 🙂

  5. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing your brother personally, just from a distance. I want to thank you so much for your tribute to him and your openness about mental illness. It has been such a blessing to see your testimony and what a beautiful person you have become. We have been praying for you and your family.

  6. Rosanne, we are so sorry for your loss praying your family will find comfort in these hard times. That was a beautiful tribute

  7. Rosanne, that was a beautiful tribute to your brother. Reading this made me wish that I had known him, but in sharing as you did I feel like I got to know him a little bit. All of you are in my prayers!

  8. I’m your Dad’s first cousin & was blessed by all you wrote. So rejoicing that Scott loved the Lord & someday I will meet him in Glory (and you also). May God continue to be your comfort & strength as you & family move forward.

  9. I met Scott when he was dating Amanda Keller…they were at our house with Heather and Cory….always liked him….also that he treated Brett like a real person..not just Heather’s little bothersome brother. I am praying for you and your family at this time…may you feel God’s arms around you. You have written a wonderful tribute to Scott.

  10. Rosanne, this is beautiful, and so is the life Scott lived. I only knew him for a short time, but you truly captured his energy and contagious joy in life so well! “How he sort of came into a room like a mini-tornado” made me laugh in agreement! I’m so saddened to hear of his passing, and I will be keeping you and your parents in my prayers. Scott called and talked to my mom not long before she passed away. It makes me smile to think that he most likely made a lifetime friend everywhere he went. Much love to you all and thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of your heart…

  11. Scott was our neighbor on Wapak Rd. My husband & I really liked him. He had a wonderful testimony for the Lord. He was so good to his dogs. Cared for them better than a lot of people do their children. So sorry for your family’s loss. We will never forget him.

  12. ROSANNE, LINDA AND I WERE SO SHOCKED WHEN WE GOT HOME FROM SOUTH CAROLINA AND DISCOVERED SCOTT’S OBIT. TANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU EVER KNEW THAT I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH BI POLAR DISORDER 36 YEARS AGO AND HAVE DONE VERY WELL WITH THE SUPPORT OF JESUS (MOST OF ALL), MY FAMILY AND THE MEDICATION I HAVE FAITHFULLY TAKEN. I HAVE RECENTLY BECOME A LEADER IN CELEBRATE RECOVERY AND WAS SOUGHT OUT BY THE OTHER LEADERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AIDING OTHERS WITH DEPRESSION. SCOTT WAS SUCH A GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST AND EVEN THOUGH IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE OUR PATHS CROSSED, HE WAS A SUPER HUMAN BEING. WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOUR FAMILY AND LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH.THANKS AGAIN ROSANNE AND GIVE YOUR PARENTS MY LOVE.

  13. Rosanne, What an amazing tribute to your brother. So many people do not understand mental illness. My beautiful Daughter Leanne took her own life 8-13-10 she was 30 years old. It is s tragic loss you will never get over. I am so very sorry for you and your family.

  14. Ah Rosanne! Thanks for writing out of your hope- through your pain! I celebrate the life of your brother and his influence in you-and through you! I’m praying for all of you!

  15. Those were beautiful and strong words. You have honored your Lord and the memory of your brother by them. Thank you so much for sharing! I knew Scott 25 years ago; we got to go to Kenya, Africa together. I am praying for your family.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I was at his service & thought it was amazing. You are strong & brave but God had you lifted up. Scott was my Crossroads friend. I loved sitting next to him & listening to him sing. As I told your mother, we loved him the best we could. I will miss him & continue to pray for you & yours & all of the families wth loved ones who are I’ll.

  17. Roseanne, I was Scott’s neighbor on Westerly Drive.. He was truely a very special person..He and I spent many hours talking about his family and his personal issues..I was out of town for a family event so was unable to attend the service. Thank you for sharing this, you have described your brother perfectly…May God comfort you and your parents and family during this time of sorrow…

  18. I wanted to express my sincere heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Scott was an avid library patron. He was always very sweet and always had a smile on his face. I felt terrible when I saw this on facebook and read the obit in the newspaper. As a stranger I felt compelled to let you that Scott was always very nice and I will miss having little conversations with him. Mental illness and suicide touches a lot of families including my own. We always wish we could have seen the signs or changed something but they think somehow we would be better off without them. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Denise Holler Lima Public Library

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