There's a savagery to the grief of suicide. A horrifying silence that adds razor-sharp barbs of pain to the lives of loved ones left behind. Phone calls, texts and cards that never come, a strained encounter in the street or at the local post office where the conversation stumbles awkwardly around one unspeakable subject. Eileen and Les Milton are living in the nightmare of their son's death. It's been two months today since their beloved youngest son Andrew, just 38 - head chef and co-owner of popular Albury eatery 2640 - was pronounced brain dead at Albury hospital in the NSW-Victorian border region. His gift of organ donation would see his heart beat on for someone else, his kidneys save two lives and his eyes help two others to see. More than 1000 people attended his funeral at the SS&amp;A Albury on November 14, mourners overflowing out of the auditorium and into adjoining rooms, while still another 400 people watched the event online. And yet in the days and weeks that have followed, his anguished parents have grappled with the loneliness of their grief. ... and the silence. Eileen, 67, believes people don't know what to say - so they say nothing. "We know this is a shocking, traumatic thing to have happened - and people are fearful about what to say - but the absence, the not being acknowledged really hurts us the most," she says. "Andrew was our son and suicide is still a death." That's why Eileen was so touched when a 92-year-old client reached out to her recently. "She rang and said 'I'm such a coward for not ringing earlier'," the long-time Yerong Creek resident recalls. "But I told her just saying 'I don't know what to say' is better than saying nothing. "It makes me feel like Andrew matters." Andrew "was born in a rush to get into this world" at 3am on November 2, 1984 in Queensland. And really "that was the last of early mornings for Andrew" - especially on school days and, later, given his late-night chef hours, his parents would joke. He was always mischievous and as a child had the most beautiful blonde hair, his mum recalls. He was loved and adored by both grandmothers, Pam and Kath, and grew into a tall, well-built, confident young man who inherited his father's "can do " attitude. "I never met anyone who didn't like him," his sister Beck says. He loved animals - especially dogs - and fishing was also a huge part of family life from the boat or riverbank. He had both the patience and determination to catch his fish, according to Eileen. "He'd often tell me, 'Mummy, just think like a fish, and you'll catch them'," she recalls. Even after he became a respected chef and proud co-owner of 2640 with his partner and soul-mate Joel Carey, Andrew loved a home-cooked meal from his mum. "He taught me how to cut onions into perfect slices without cutting my fingers," Eileen says. "I always gave Andrew a break from cooking whenever he came home however he liked to help prep food for me. "But that was short-lived when he started to kick food scraps under the bench - I'd say 'Hey my man, you're not at work now!'" The stories, the memories pour out; love and humour woven through the cascading waves of sadness. It's this Andrew - the funny, lovable, partying, patient, perfectionist Andrew - his loved ones want to remember. ... and speak of. It's lunch-time at the restaurant and Joel automatically glances towards the door. It's about the time "Andy" would roll in, ready to prep for the evening dinner service. "I just keep thinking he's going to walk through that door," Joel says. Indeed it's hard to fathom exactly how Joel manages to be in the space they both used to be; where they brought to life their dream of owning and running a restaurant together. But after "an intense eight weeks", Joel is back on deck at their beloved 2640 Restaurant and Bar in Kiewa Street. There's a new head chef and new sous-chef on the team and they're putting the finishing touches on a new menu. Joel is determined to continue to offer customers the level of service and fabulous fare the pair were famed for. "I want to continue this for Andrew - it's his legacy and he worked so hard to get it to where it is now," Joel explains. The initial shock of his husband's death has given way to a "deeper grief" - in many ways, Joel says, the pain is now more profound. "Rather than howl my eyes out, I have periods where the tears stream down my face and there's no noise coming out," he says quietly. The restaurant (open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and dinner Tuesday to Saturday) is in the hands of a supremely capable team, Joel insists. He credits his staff with getting him through the past two months. "They have been my rock," Joel says. "They've continued on as best they can and the support they've shown has been incredible." That and the unwavering love of his own and Andrew's family. The bonds between the families "will never be broken", say Joel's parents Debbie and Colin Carey. "We loved Andrew as one of our own," they said at his funeral, recalling how the four of them bought electric bikes and started Sunday rides together - "usually with a trip to Macca's first". "Andrew even taught the old mother-in-law to ride no hands and I didn't come for a buster," Debbie says. Now they watch and worry, feeling helpless to console their "heartbroken son". The loss is felt just as keenly at the apartment Andrew and Joel shared where their "babies" - chocolate labrador Marley and rescue dog Scout - wait for their other "dad" to come home. For Marley, particularly, there's an empty space where his human used to be. "When he hears a car that sounds like Andrew's, he jumps up on the balcony railing and then watches the car go past as if to say, 'Oh, that's not Dad'," Joel says sadly. "We don't lose him once, we lose him every day." For Andrew's eldest sister, Rachelle, her grief lies with the time she never got to spend with him. "I didn't have the opportunity to really know my brother until we were older," she wrote for his funeral. "Life is what life is and Beck, Andrew and myself grew up in separate lives. "We always said we would meet up more, (that) I would come down or he would come up, but we both had such busy lives it never happened." If you ask anyone, her and Andrew are alike, she says. "Our personalities were so similar and he luckily looked like me," Rachelle jokes. "We both loved Lady Gaga and made a night of stealing the mic at our cousin Brendan's wedding." Now Rachelle is left "stealing all your memories, every picture and story you are all telling because I don't have enough". IN OTHER NEWS: The pair were lucky to spend "precious time together" when Andrew worked as a chef in the mines; he hung out with his niece and nephews, fishing and swimming at their cousin Angie's house. "I didn't know how much I loved him until he was gone," Rachelle reflects. As the sun set on her brother's life and 2022 draws to a close, her message to everyone is don't wait. Don't wait to show people you love how much they mean today. "Try to spend that time with them that you keep putting off 'cause you're so busy," she insists. "Otherwise you will be stealing memories just like I am." The Border Mail had permission to attend Andrew's funeral and reproduce parts of his eulogy for this article. Andrew and Joel's families would like to publicly thank those who have offered them love and support: Les, Eileen, Beck, Rachelle and all the Milton family together with Joel, Debbie, Colin and the Carey family extend our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all who attended Andrew's funeral. For the hugs, cards, texts, phone calls, flowers and kind words. For the support of many new friends, our family and our counsellor; knowing you are thinking of us means so much. For the outpouring of love shown to Andrew when he was on life support - from his close friends who came to say their goodbyes, to the hospital staff who treated Andrew with dignity - and to our special drivers to and from the funeral and wake. Grief will be with us for a very long time ... always tell your loved ones how much you love them EVERY day.