This week, Alex Schneps joined HuffPost Live to talk about the experience of losing his brother Bryan Yeshion Schneps to gun violence in 2005.
“Empty is the only word the encompasses the feeling in the immediate aftermath," Alex Schneps said.
In an article in The Huffington Post, Jason Cherkis tells the story of Bryan's death and its ripple effects over the years, through extensive interviews with Alex Schneps and other family members and friends.
Alex's bond with Bryan was particularly strong, even though Alex was six and a half years younger than Bryan. Alex was only 15 years old when Bryan was shot in his apartment in Philadelphia, Pa., near Temple University, where he was a student. Bryan died in the hospital a few days later. This question of what it's like to lose an older brother at a pivotal age was what initially drew Cherkis to the story.
"I think I definitely was always aspiring to be like Bryan anyway, and that him not being there was more of an impetus to try to be him and encompass what he was," Alex said on HuffPost Live.
For many years, Alex said he struggled to deal with his brother’s death. He closed himself off from other people and refused to explore his feelings. More recently, however, he said has become more open about his emotions, with others and with himself. He cautioned, however, against generalizing too much about the grieving process.
“People have a tendency to qualify the way that grief is supposed to work because of any number of things," Alex said. "They need a structure. They need a plan for certain things in grief, and I just think that that is the wrong way to go about things. You need to be able to accept those feelings as they come and not try and force them away, and that took years.”
Alex also shared his thoughts on the gun control debate that has been reignited this week by the anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He explained to HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski that discussions in the media and among lawmakers often ignore the specific stories of people like him who have dealt with gun violence, and which make arguments in favor of gun control so powerful.
“I think there’s a tendency to be buzzword happy," Alex said. "When you take a phrase like ‘gun violence’ and that’s supposed to encompass all these individuals who have experienced loss, it makes it very impersonal. It’s just numbers and buzzwords and something that the government is supposed to fix, instead of ‘this person lost this person in this situation,’ and that’s what it needs. The details often go untouched, and that’s what makes it real.”
For more of Alex's story, read the full piece by Jason Cherkis here.