A lonely man’s heartbreaking obituary has sparked an outpouring of sadness online after his brother candidly summed up his wasted life with the ‘brutally honest’ truth.
Brian Eldridge died last month at the age of 76 after a life of bullying, exploitation and loneliness, his brother Steve wrote, who died for at least four days before being found because of his existence Sorry.
“He had no friends or family that followed him,” Steve said. “He was calm, intelligent, generous and solitary… I will miss him. »
Brian was a very shy boy at school who suffered severe bullying as a result. The experience shattered his confidence and he also found himself shunned as an adult, living a lonely existence while working as a newspaper boy and later as a janitor.
This last job forced him to work 364 days a year for $10 an hour, with Brian pushed into even deeper poverty after being laid off on Christmas Eve.
His heartbreaking story of labor exploitation, mental illness and isolation has touched many, who say they feel guilty for never having had the chance to help a desperate man they didn’t even know.
In an interview with Pioneer Press, Steve said he decided to be “brutally honest” when writing his brother’s obituary because “his story is sad and true”.
Brian Eldridge was described as having ‘no friends and no family following him’ when he died last month. His brother said he constantly wore a tattered jacket as his relatives pleaded with him to improve his condition.
The janitor and paper delivery man is said to have been painfully shy since he was a boy. He is pictured in his high school photo in 1965
Steve Eldridge said his brother’s obvious mental illness manifested itself in a number of ways, including constantly wearing a tattered beige jacket and refusing to cut his hair until it reached his calves.
‘Was he trying to get people to turn away from him, so he didn’t have to talk to them or face them? I don’t know, he asked.
Steve described his brother as being painfully awkward since he was a young boy, leading him to be “bullied in his childhood and teenage years because of his shyness and vulnerability”.
‘As an adult he didn’t fit in,’ the obituary continued, claiming that Brian wasn’t even allowed to apply for most jobs because he had never learned how to use a computer or phone. portable. While attending a computer class to try and learn the basics, Brian was so embarrassed by how little he knew compared to other students that he quickly gave up.
He was forced to support himself through recycling aluminum cans, janitorial work, and a paper road. A commentary by Scott H Frantzen, who worked for Pioneer Press when Eldridge delivered the newspaper, paid tribute to the reliable newspaperman.
“Brian was loved by all of us at Pioneer Press and by the hundreds of customers he delivered the paper to every day for many, many years,” the comment read. ‘Rest in peace my friend.’
While the newspaper reportedly parted ways on good terms, Steve said his brother’s last job ended in disaster – and characterized his life as tragic.
“His last job was cleaning a bingo hall at midnight for $10 an hour, seven days a week, 364 days a year, with slightly less than the minimum weekly hours to have rights or benefits” , he wrote.
“His employer fired him on Christmas Eve without notice. He had worked there for more than 15 years.
The mournful obituary ended with the sad facts of Brian’s life – he had “no friends or family following him”, and he was “quiet, intelligent, generous and solitary”.
Steve Eldridge said he wrote his brother’s obituary with “brutal honesty” because no one knew him and wanted to tell the truth about Brian’s sorry life.
Brian Eldridge (right) pictured with his brothers Steve (left), who wrote his obituary, and David (centre), who had schizophrenia and died in October Steve said David’s death contributed to his ruthless honesty in the obituary
Brian Eldridge: May 1947 – July 2023
Brian was a quiet, shy boy and man.
He was bullied as a child and teenager because of his shyness and vulnerability. As an adult, he didn’t fit in.
He never learned to use a computer or a cell phone, which kept him from applying for most jobs.
He worked and supported himself through paper roads, aluminum can recycling, and janitorial work.
It was exploited by employers. His last job was cleaning a bingo hall at midnight for $10 an hour 7 nights a week 364 days a year with just under the minimum weekly hours to qualify for rights or benefits.
His employer fired him on Christmas Eve without notice. He had worked there for more than 15 years.
He had no friends or family who followed him. He was calm, intelligent, generous and solitary.
When he was found in his apartment, he had been dead for at least four days.
I’ll miss him.
Steve said he last spoke to his brother on Brian’s birthday, May 4, and last saw him in person in October 2022.
That same month, their brother David, who suffered from schizophrenia, also died – and Steve said he had to write another sad obituary then, which led to his “brutal honesty” about Brian.
“When our other brother, David, passed away in October, I basically explained how his life was taken down due to schizophrenia,” he said.
“I wanted to be equally honest with Brian’s obituary because his story is sad and true. Personally, I struggle with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I have to live with the guilt and regret and shame that I didn’t try harder to stay closer, to see him more, to call him more, to be there for him.
In his obituary of his brother David, he described him as an “energetic, charming, talented and happy child, teenager and young adult” who later became “overwhelmed with schizophrenia in his mid-twenties”.
Talking about how Brian’s life got out of control, he said he refused to cut his hair or wear clean clothes, and when he died his hair ‘was down to the middle of his calves’ .
“He would let it grow for probably 45 years. He wouldn’t cut it. My mom once offered him $10,000 to cut his hair, and he didn’t. At that time, it was just “It’s mine”. Of course, that made him even more different than he already was,” he said.
Steve added that he insisted on wearing a dirty beige jacket that “had holes all over it and ragged edges” – which Brian is wearing in his obituary picture.
“It was awful and it smelled bad, but he wouldn’t put another one on. My dad had three or four jackets almost like that, and they were in the closet over there, and he didn’t use them.
“I kept telling him, ‘You look like someone who lives under the Lake Street Bridge. You don’t have to do this. But he was adamant. That’s what he was wearing, and that was it. Was he trying to get people to turn away from him, so he didn’t have to talk to them or face them? I don’t know.’
After the obituary was posted online, the tragic details led to an outpouring of tributes from strangers who wished they had known him and those who met Brian but were never a part of his life.
“I didn’t know Brian, but the thought of Brian will stay with me,” one comment read.
“May we all keep the thought of this man with us and use his memory to inspire each of us to be kind to others, to give to others,” he added. ‘Tomorrow is not guaranteed. May you rest in peace Brian. I would have liked to know you.
Another person who claimed to know Brian told Steve: ‘Your brother was a customer of mine at McDonald’s in Mounds View. He told me once that everything in my life was going to get better. It might take a long time, but it would get better.
“He always smiled at me in his own way and I always smiled back. I hadn’t seen him in a while and wondered what had happened to him. I’m really sorry for you.
“A humble life for a man who worked hard for very little,” read another comment. ‘For his greatest impact on so many strangers is his death. Rest well, Brian.
In a remark as sad as Brian’s obituary, an anonymous poster who went only by the name ‘M’ read: ‘I think my son Christian will find him in heaven and be his friend. »
One person wrote their tribute directly to Brian saying: ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have the privilege and pleasure of meeting you. You sound like a kind soul who deserved a better life.
“Please know that you have left a positive impact on everyone you have helped. »