In Loving Memory

1
Dana Warren "Danny" Merwin
12/15/52 - 07/27/00

Daddy
Husband
Son
Brother
Uncle

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Funeral Blues

by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffins, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message {They Are} Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

{They were} my North, my South, my East, my West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: Put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

*********

*I hope Mr. Auden will forgive me for
changing his pronouns to plural.

2
Melinda Sue "Susie" Rogers
04/03/55 - 11/15/00

Mom
Daughter
Sister
Aunt

 

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We lost my brother Danny on 7/27/00 to suicide and my sister Susie on 11/15/00 in a car accident. Many visitors to the site, after reading the December newsletter, have written in asking if I would occasionally post an update as to how I'm doing and how things are going.

I'm doing okay, all things considered. I think about my brother and sister constantly and miss them both terribly, as does the rest of the family. I'm keeping busy with my job (I'm an artist and web addict by nature but I'm a medical transcriptionist by necessity - as was my sister Susie and also my mom and my other sister, Debbie). I'm making plans for a move a little closer to home so I can be near my family. I miss working on the site and hope to be back at it with regular updates within a few months.

I'm posting a few of my favorite family photos. All thumbnails click to a larger image.

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Eulogy given at Danny's funeral:

I first became acquainted with Dan through the eyes of his sister, Joni. It quickly became apparent to me that he was her hero, her shining star, and that Dan was the yardstick against which she measured the character of all other men.

As I came to know the rest of her family I could see that her view of him was not unique, that it wasn't simply the schoolgirl crush of the littlest sister for her wonderful big brother, but that he was in many ways a hero for the entire family. He was smart, funny, reliable, kind and generous. He was something of an adventurer, he could fly a plane, sail a boat. He was such a gifted manager that everyone who ever worked for him loved having him for a boss. He had a lovely wife and a beautiful baby girl and they were the priceless lights of his life. He adored them with his every breath. He was strong and enduring. He was always there. If there was an emergency, Danny was the rock that stood fast in the storm.

This was the image of the man I met last April, at Dolores's house for Mother's Day. I was prepared to not like him but in fact, I did. Very much. We connected, quickly and deeply. In a short time, Danny and I became very close.

I later joked with him that he was the first guy I'd met in twenty years who came to me automatically prequalified for best friend status. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who felt that way about their relationship with him.

He had the rare gift of highly sensitive social perception. He intuitively knew the perfect way to respond to others to make us feel special. We were all his best friend, no matter what our relationship with him was.

He was driven to mastery. Whatever he did in his life, he strove for perfection and that is especially evidenced by the enormous number of people who loved him . Danny was, in every sense of the word, a good man, by any standard.

Being a human being is a mixed bag. Along with the good in us, there is also what the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung and others have called "the shadow" that part of us that is darkness, frailty, doubt and very often, a deep wound.

Danny was a good man and, as we all do, he carried his own shadow. The effects of that shadow have brought us here today.

I know we are all angry, shocked, hurt beyond telling by what has happened. These feelings are inescapable. Of course we feel this way.

But in the midst of this anguish and grief, there is something I would ask you to consider. Everybody has seen the gangster movie, where the hitman says to the intended victim, "Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just business."

I beg you to consider this: Danny's final act wasn't about us. It was nothing personal. It was about him. Sure, we take it personally. It sure feels personal. But I guarantee you he did not intend his death as a personal affront to us.

Think of who he was. Everyone in this room knows Danny. Can you imagine for even a moment, that the man you knew, loved and respected would ever act in this way except under the most extreme duress? Would this man ever willingly, knowingly hurt another human being? Of course not.

This is the pivot point between outrage and compassion. If we can step back from our personal loss for just a moment, we will see that this wasn't about us, it was about him, it was about Danny's own pain. If we can understand this, then we take the first step towards forgiveness and healing.

Over the past few days I have asked myself over and over, "What did I miss? What could I have done that might have intercepted this?"

There is no blame among us.

There are no answers to these particular questions.

We cannot look back and fill our heads with "what if..." Guilt is neither helpful nor useful. It serves no purpose to beat ourselves up for what we did or did not do in our relationships with him. We did the best we could at the time and if we could have done better, we would have.

If there are fingers to be pointed, point them at a medical establishment that could not treat a case of tinnitis so severe that the ringing in his ears was at times louder than the engine of his truck racing down the highway at 70 miles an hour.

If there is blame, it belongs to the culture of western civilization itself, a culture that does not value the heart of a man or his needs, a culture that isolates men from each other, that sends a man out into the world without the emotional tools to handle feelings of rejection, failure, fear, loneliness and doubt.

Blame a culture where a man's identity, who he is, is defined by what he does for work and if he has no work, that culture tells him he is nothing.

Blame a culture that requires a man to go it alone, stand on his own two feet, be independent.

Blame a culture that left Dan flapping in the breeze because the unspoken cultural rule is that if you ask for help then you are no longer independent and that means you aren't really a man.

By the time we knew Danny was in such serious trouble, it was already too late.

I want to ask everyone here today to go back to your lives and families and remember who Dan Merwin was. Tell each other the story of how he touched your life, then tell it again. Talk about him. Share your grief. Break the isolation that took him from us.

In our society, women are perhaps a bit more fortunate in that they have cultural permission to cry. To the men here today, I say to you that we are bound together in brotherhood by our friendship with Danny and by our grief at his loss. I tell you, there is no shame in crying. Find your tears. Learn to cry. You have my blessing and support no matter what the cultural prohibitions are. Open the floodgates of your heart. Now is a good time to do this. It is appropriate to cry here, in this place. Let it go. It will help you. It will help us all.

And lastly,

Danny, where ever you are, I know you can hear me. I want you to know that I wish with all my heart I had heard your cry for help soon enough to have made a difference. I want to tell you that I hold you innocent and blameless, and that for me personally there is nothing to forgive, rather I should ask you to forgive me for not hearing you in time . I want you to know I will do everything in my power as a man to look after your family and if I can do even half as well as you did in your lifetime, they will be ok. I want you to know that I am still your friend. I love you. We all loved you. As long as I live I will remember.

May God bless you and keep you always near.

Farewell my friend.

Farewell.


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Did you know...

  • Every 18 Minutes Someone Dies By Suicide
  • Every 43 Seconds Someone Attempts Suicide
  • Suicide is the 11th Leading Cause Of Death in America
  • Suicide takes the lives of 30,000 Americans every year
  • More People Die By Suicide Than Homicide
  • Men are four times more likely to die from suicide than women
  •  

    National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
    Suicide Prevention Action Network of USA

    What you can do to help someone who may be feeling suicidal

     

    If you've lost someone you love to suicide, I invite you to join Friends and Families of Suicides, an email support group for suicide survivors.

    If the person you lost to suicide was your son or daughter, I also invite you to join Parents of Suicides, an email suicide survivor support group restricted to parents only.

    If you've lost a child or sibling in any manner, I encourage you to visit the following website for grief support: Compassionate Friends

    Pay your respects or add a loved one's name to the Suicide Memorial Wall.


    Help Save a Life

     

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