The First Year Without My Brother

On September 26, 2020, my little brother Eric decided to leave this earth.

 It’s been a year since he made what I have termed a bad decision. We all know that there are moments and events that occur in our lives that mark life before that moment, and forever change our life after that moment. 

Just five weeks after Eric passed, my mom passed too.  In truth I had been mentally preparing for her to pass, she had decided that she lived a full life (she did), and I think she was ready to see her other 13 siblings, a variety of friends, my dad… and now, yes Eric too.  While I was preparing for the circle of life with my mom, I was completely taken off guard with Eric— I have learned that suicide is a different kind of grief— the sting is still fresh for me, and I know for many of his friends too. 

We held Eric’s celebration of life a few weeks after his passing, it was a beautiful sunny and clear day— on the baseball field where he was a coach for over ten years.  The day could not have been more perfect, the sun, the weather, and the outpouring of love from family and friends. As I prepared to deliver his eulogy, I knew he was there—I could feel it.  Delivering his eulogy tops my list as one of my life’s most gut-wrenching experiences—but it was an important step in honoring Eric, and towards healing and moving forward for our family and friends, and Eric’s friends.  I did not know all of my brother’s friends, but I could feel the weight of the day—I wanted to grab each person and hug them hard and say thank you for being my brother’s friend, and I’m sorry, I know you don’t understand what happened and neither do I. 

For that day I needed to keep my head about me, it would have done no good to come unhinged crying and blubbering… but that was what I wanted to do— for those of you reading this, and were there—I hope you know that I cared deeply for what you were feeling.

 In the last year, I am so grateful for the social posts that honor Eric.  When you lose someone, you don’t want them to be forgotten… and while it is important for life to go on, there is a lot of comfort to see he is remembered.  I started writing this blog on the 6-month anniversary of his death—it was my mom’s birthday March 26th—and I felt heavy—really heavy.  On that day I received a Facebook messenger note—one of Erics’ friends put a tattoo on his arm in Eric’s remembrance and sent me a picture—wow— the tattoo was such a huge commitment, you know, it’s not like you can erase something like that. It was such an honor to Eric—and I instantly imagined the smile, on Erics face in heaven.  I know he gave a little laugh; a small head shake side to side and a really big grin.  As I sit here now typing this, I can feel Erics’ presence. 

This is what I have learned, and how it might help you; Believe in the resilience of people—Eric’s passing has given me a self-professed master’s degree in acknowledging not only the resilience of people but their fragility too.  I have learned that my brothers’ friends are still shaken, and in their shaken state they fiercely and honorably remember him.  I have learned that his best friend thinks of him all the time, and has the strength to be vulnerable enough to post his heartfelt feelings of missing Eric.  I have learned that his girlfriend is a mixture of a fierce warrior and a tender heart, and while she is moving on and living her life—she is haunted.

I learned of a little memorial in a close friend’s garage, where they all use to hang, and they keep Erics memory alive. I learned that some of his student athletes wear his jersey and I saw a memorial on the Jeep Eric use to own. I have learned a lot in this last year—and undoubtedly shed more tears than I want to. 

I have been shaken to pay greater attention to mental health, and I hope you are too.  I have learned to put my fears in the hands of God.  I always have—but even more now.  I have learned that so many people really care, but truthfully do not know what to say.  I have always cared deeply about people—and now Eric taught me to be sure to say it.  I have learned that a band of women plowing through his belongings can bring a lot of light in darkness. I have learned that my siblings are fierce and will plow through with grit to take care of many affairs.

I learned that my yoga for grief training went out the door when it was “my” grief and that objectivity gets lost in tears.  I have learned that mental health is spoken about more openly and more honestly than ever, and I hope that continues—it’s easy to talk about that sore knee, but not so much your confused mind or tattered heart.

Eric is gone but has taught me and others so very much in his absence.

These past few weeks leading up to the 26th have been especially brutal, my mind goes to Eric all the time because I did not know of his dark thoughts a year ago—and if I did—could I have helped— and would he have listened.  What was he thinking and why didn’t he say something.

Eric was a coach, and now he is coaching us —we can see his grin, his frown, and hear his goofy stories.  I will continue to remember and acknowledge him, as I know others will too. Get still enough to notice what is in front of you; Take your shoes off, walk barefoot—notice the texture under your feet – it will wake up your senses and keep you grounded.  Don’t be afraid to admit your tiredness, your tatteredness, or your grief—you are human, and your feelings are real.

Mostly I encourage everyone to seek mental health assistance and don’t be afraid to say if your heart, soul, or brain need help.  Your place in this world is important and you matter.  Be a good steward of the life you have been given, and when you are confused or feeling dark—use the power of a pause and give it to God. 


Eric Carl Selckman born September 1, 1970, was the beloved son of Mary Campbell Selckman and the late James Edward Selckman. He was the brother of Jim Selckmann, Denise Branham, and Susan Selckman. He was husband to the late Melissa Selckmann, and Uncle to Timothy Branham, and Great Uncle to Ella Branham. Eric’s special love was Laura Martin who most recently shared travel, social fun, and all of the fun-loving antics by Eric that she could tolerate. Eric attended St. Jane Frances School, Archbishop Spalding High School, and graduated from Anne Arundel Community College.

Eric was best known for his love of sports especially his love of coaching baseball as an assistant at Northeast High School and Archbishop Spalding High School. Eric was a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan of which friends and family looked past and loved him anyway. Eric had an infectious smile that will not be forgotten, as well as a madd karaoke voice, and undocumented comedic skills. The family requests that you smile because you knew him and live life to the fullest in his honor.