Aunt Karen (left) Me (right)
⚠️ trigger warning this article mentions suicide ⚠️
On March 14, 2021, I sent an email to Brandon from Humans of New York. If you don’t know what Humans of New York is, I highly suggest taking some time after reading this to check out Brandon’s Instagram @humansofny. It’s simply amazing. In summary, it is a space where humans share real, raw stories from their lives. HONY has helped me feel all the feelings: inspiration, happiness, sadness, love, hope, devastation, sympathy, empathy, and so much more. Overall it has helped me feel more connected to the beautiful humans on this earth. ❤️
Usually, Brandon meets people throughout the streets of NYC or different locations that he travels to. However, during COVID Brandon was receiving emails to share people’s stories. After a while of procrastination, I decided to send one of my stories. It is deeply personal, but writing this story felt therapeutic and oddly comforting. I made some minor edits, but here it is…
I had a feeling something was wrong. I called my mom to check in on my Aunt Karen as I was 1,000 miles away. About an hour later, I received a call from my aunt’s phone. I let out a sigh of relief and answered. On the other end of the phone was my mom screaming that Aunt Karen was dead. My mom got there just in time for my aunt to pass away in my mom’s arms. Her death was ruled a suicide due to the number of prescription pills that were in her system. A month or so later, my mom and I went to the police station to get the police report. In the report, there were scribbled notes that the officers found in my aunt’s apartment. The only thing she wrote addressed to me was, “Deana Marie has a knack for fashion.” My family and I were in denial for a while. However, my mom was devastated, and she was never the same again.
After Aunt Karen died, I went into a downward spiral. Weed and alcohol seemed to be my only coping mechanisms. Similarly, to my aunt’s coping style. This continued for years. One day, I had a realization that if I did not get help, I would end up just like my aunt. I often prayed for a miracle, but I felt trapped and helpless. I was financially, spiritually, and mentally bankrupt. I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to kill myself, especially seeing my mom’s state after what had happened to my aunt. Thankfully one day, God answered my prayers, and my road to recovery began. I found a new way to live, without looking to weed and alcohol to cope and solve my problems.
It has been five years since I sought help. I am now the Founder and CEO of my own clothing company (OGCJ), a brand my aunt would have loved! I am also a college student studying Television Production and Digital Media. I try to create as much as possible and do things I enjoy; going on adventures, spending time with loved ones, cooking vegan food, reading, laughing, watching movies, and trying new things. I have so much gratitude in my life today and every day that God gifts me. If it was not for my Aunt Karen’s tragic demise, I doubt I would be where I am today. I honestly feel as though she suffered, so I didn’t have to.
Nine years after my aunt died, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. As I held her hand as she passed away, I was heartbroken yet, somewhat relieved because she would not be in physical pain anymore, and I knew how happy she would be to see her baby sister again. They would finally be in peace, together. I miss them both very much, but I feel their love, and I know how proud they are of me. I am doing what they both could not do, one day at a time.
Written by: Deana Marie Loria
Edited by: Katelyn Miscioscia
My story did not make it to the HONY page, but I did receive a response, which was pretty cool. It stated, “Thank you so much for submitting this story. We have received thousands of emails and Brandon is only able to share a tiny sliver of them. Rest assured that we are reading them all, and I just want to say that we are so sorry for your loss. It’s a very strong story, but a lot of times it’s a huge puzzle to put narratives into short form, so most of the stories are not featured even though they are really powerful and moving. But thank you so much for submitting this. Hope you are staying safe during this time.” Roshni S. – Manager, Humans of New York
Today, June 16, would have been my aunt Karen’s 63rd birthday. She passed away on September 30, 2008. I often wonder what life would be like if she were still around. Until we meet again…
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, contact your physician, go to your local ER, or call the suicide prevention hotline.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. Both programs provide free, confidential support 24/7.