When my brother died, I felt as though part of me died too. I wasn’t alone in that. Brian’s wife, three children, my mother and my other siblings all felt the same. Brian had a large extended family and a circle of friends who were also devastated by his death. His sudden death left a huge void for all of us.
Every person who was impacted by his death had a different and unique grief experience. While we could empathize with one another about what the grief experience was like, we could only understand what it felt like to lose him on an individual basis.
This is what it was like for me:
I wasn’t ready to let him go. The doctors were clear: They had never had a person survive his magnitude of brain injury. To keep him alive was to keep him a prisoner locked in a vegetative state. I knew that. Nonetheless, I wasn’t ready to let him go. There was no joy in keeping him alive the way he was, and there was no relief in letting him go. The pain of my broken heart was relentless.
After he died, I thought I grieved. I did, but not really. Instead, I turned into a workaholic. I kept busy with my studies, household tasks and activities with my husband and children. I did anything to keep busy ~ anything to not feel the pain.
I would not allow myself to deal with my feelings because I didn’t feel worthy. After all, “I was just the little sister.” He had a beautiful young wife and three precious children. He had a mother who adored him and who appreciated him for being a source of strength when she went through difficulties. I kept telling myself “those relationships deserve more attention.” In some warped way, I convinced myself that if I were to call attention to my grief, then it would somehow detract from theirs. That’s what grief does… it gives us a warped
sense of reality!
I came to learn that everyone not only has the right to grieve a relationship, but that it is also a necessity. Each of us had our own relationship with Brian, and each of us had to reconcile that loss in our own way and in our own time.
Have you experienced the death of a sibling? How did you cope with the loss?