Browsing "The Passing of a Loved One"

I Just Lost My Brother

“My brother was killed last Friday and it has hit us all very hard. The funeral was great but sad. They gave him a firefighters funeral and at the end when they paged him one last time… it killed me. There was no response to the page and it kills me even now as I remember it. I have never been one to cry when others are around. Always the one to be strong for everyone with no one there to be strong for me. But that last call was the hardest part. It was painful for me to hold back my tears. Also after 4 years it seems like my husband has learned nothing when it comes to me. ~Alicia”

Dear Alicia,

Out of all of life’s tasks this is by far one of most difficult. I’m filled with such sadness and compassion for you and your family during this time. There is nothing that I can say to ease your pain or frustration. Your grief is your own grief and no one else’s. Everyone grieves in their own way, so take your time and don’t let people get on to you for not “moving on” and don’t let them say that you’re being cold and unfeeling if you’re not drowning in tears. There is an initial phase of numbness right after loss that is often mistaken for not caring. Don’t try and take everyone’s well-meaning and sometimes clueless advice or their strange and fearful responses such as avoiding you or avoiding the topic of your brother, very seriously. Many people are uncomfortable or don’t know how to deal with death.

As time goes on that initial numbness will fade and you will start mourning, in a sort of exchange of better and worse type feelings, but eventually it slows down and you begin to rebuild your life. When we’re faced with something huge like this and we’re unable to process it all at once, our mind will file it away and feed it to us in smaller amounts that we can handle over time. So you will feel like you’re getting someplace one day, then you will go all to pieces the next. It’s normal.

If the passing of a loved one is both expected and merciful people have time to say goodbyes and to grieve together. You haven’t had that opportunity. Your brothers passing was totally out of left field. So give yourself time. Be patient with yourself. This isn’t going to go away overnight. Things will get back to normal, but it will be a new normal. It might take months or even a couple of years, but it will happen. It just takes time.

Alicia, you are right. Life is hard. It is tiring and long. Sometimes it seems like the whole world is out to get us and we are alone. But it is during these times that we grow the most. Through thick and thin every day we are presented with opportunities to fail or succeeded. The outcome of each opportunity is our choice. We have to choose how we’re going to handle each situation. With all the troubles and trials that we face the most important thing is how we finish. Thus, if we finish with our heads held high it shows that we have grown and made wise decisions from our past events. Letting your head down to cry to express how you feel is not weakness, its strength. You are showing great courage in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This is something that many people run away from and what they don’t realize is that they are causing more damage by keeping it in. Allow yourself to grow. It is okay to let your guard down and cry. It’s the healthy thing to do.

One of the most helpful things you can do, especially early on, is to talk. Talk about what happened, talk about your feelings. I’m sure that your husband knows something about you. Feeling that he doesn’t is normal, especially now during such a difficult time. You get angry, at him, at your friends, and family. That is part of loss and it will fade in time. You are very blessed that he is there. Things are so much harder to go through when you don’t have someone to love you and help you through. Talk to him. If he was close to your brother it might be hard for him. If this is the case you might try and find a friend to support group to rant, rave, and vent your feelings. Just know that you are not alone.

Depending on your relationship with your brother, one of the things that helped me in the past was remembering all the good times I had instead of focusing on the fact that they are gone. I hope things get better for you. You and your family will be in my prayers.

With much care,
~John