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It's been a year and a half, and I'm really no closer to accepting my loss. Mark was 3 years older than I, but we were not close. He was the black sheep and I the white. He was the lost child, and I the future of the family name. He was not married and had no children of his own. I have 2.5 children and a mortgage. He is now dead and the guilt is more than I can bare. I cannot allow him to be forgotten, it's the very least I can do...but I don't know how. It was his shoulders I stood on that let me reach so high. He sacrificed himself for me, so that I could survive. No, so I could thrive. His final years must have been lonely...and hard. Rarely a job, living at home with mom, no future, no savings, no prospects. All the while his little bro getting married, having kids, good jobs, good cars, dogs, Christmas dinners. How do I honor him? How do I grieve and live a life worthy of what he did. Don't tell me all grief is different. Don't tell me to go easy on myself. Tell me how to honor him. Tell me how to live.
On April 1st, we received word that my youngest sister was found unresponsive in her backyard. They were unable to revive her. I'd always adored her. As kids I took her everywhere. Later in life she had a lot of problems and I tried to help her repeatedly although I feel doubtful that I was ever as much help as I wanted to be. I always wanted to help and protect her. There was a lot of estrangement in the family due to "issues" that had occurred over the years. I won't go into all of that in this post because I know everyone here is dealing with hurts of their own. My Mom and I were the only family members who were still in touch with my sister at the time of her death. She was even estranged from her two young adult kids. Such a sad situation. She'd remarried and no one in the family knew about it. Not even her kids. My mother and I had been told in an email and sworn to secrecy. Again, it was not a healthy situation. We weren't the only ones kept in the dark and told untruths. My sister's husband didn't know about us either. He was told that she had no family and anyone left didn't care. It is a long sad story that I'm certain I'll never understand. My siblings had stopped communicating with her. They had good reason. It was constant drama. I could not bring myself to block her from my life even though she was combative much of the time. She was my baby sister and I suppose even though she was a grown women with young adult children in some way I felt responsible for her. Plus, I'd always hoped that our relationship, which had been particularly stormy the last few years, would heal. I'd longed for the day I could see her face to face and speak with her. I knew it was the only way we could get on a better path. Every time I tried to have healthy interactions with her it turned ugly so I only answered messages that were somewhat "normal." It was hard for me to believe that we'd been together just a few years ago, with our kids, and now we couldn't even have a civil conversation in an email. I tried but it was just a mess that seemed to grow worse instead of better. She said she was happily married and had a whole new life, including new friends and a wonderful support system. It appears that she did at some level. Still she died of an "accidental" overdose. I did not know her new husband. We've never had a conversation. He didn't even notify us about the funeral. I get it. I'm sure he was in shock. I was not able to attend because of severe health issues but two of my siblings went. Even as I write this it all seems surreal. From April 1 until June 18th I waited to find out the cause of her death. I'd so hoped it was from natural causes. I finally got a copy of the death certificate to try to bring some closure for my Mom and also for myself. I didn't really do anything to help me at all. A week before my sister died she wrote me an email and asked if I could help her with something. Not only was I in the middle of care-giving for my Mom who was having heart issues, I knew that I had nothing much to give from almost 700 miles away. I prayed about the message and decided not to respond. I didn't have any resources left. In truth I had not for several years. A second email was sent and this time help was demanded. With much sadness, I left it go as well. I thought we were just going through another "cycle" with my sister. I was so sad because I knew then that getting a new husband, life, and new friends hadn't brought the happiness and health I'd hoped for to her. I honestly didn't think much past that. I couldn't my brain was too tired from personal struggles we'd been dealing with. I prayed that God would help my sister and keep wading through our own situations. It was such a shock when we got the call. I have no idea if my sister really meant to die or was just crying out for help. I've since learned that her new husband intended to leave her due to her instability. A pastor told me that "breaking confidence" and in truth I wish I didn't know it at all. We've had seven additional deaths since she passed away. I find myself going through the motions of life and just trying to make it through each day. We've endured losses of various kinds through the course of our life. My father died from a fall about 9 years back it was hard. But not as hard as this seems to be. No one in my family speaks of it. My oldest sister told me that she never wants to speak of it again. My youngest brother won't acknowledge the death. My husband is doing his best to be a support but we are both grieving. I try to be with people but when I do I find myself experiencing anxiety. Not one person has asked my how my sister died. Not one. I'd already withdrawn quite a bit because our son returned home from college with a substance abuse problem. It was a shock to all of us. And it was extremely painful and stressful. He finally hit a low point and went through rehab last summer and is doing better. We are still mending what had always been a close relationship. What we experienced with him was one of the things that left me no energy to deal with my sister. I was just coming out of that and returning to some freelance work and regaining my health, etc. when this came along and hit like a ton of bricks. I thought that by now I would be doing a little better. It seems like I am withdrawing further instead of coming out of "the valley of the shadow of death." I don't know if I'm hiding because it seems like every where I turn there is more loss or if I am hiding because I am ashamed. Why would I be ashamed? Because I am a minister and a counselor but it appears that I was unable to clearly see the depth of my sister's problems. I did encourage her to seek professional help on many occasions. She always said that they told her it was the other people who had a problem, not her. Of course, I didn't believe that. We all have problems. I just don't know why I couldn't see that so much of what she was doing was due to mental illness. No one seemed to see it. And I wonder if I will ever feel like coming out of hiding? In my heart, I know that my sister made her own choices. I feel as though I was doing the best I could and if I had been able to do more to help, I would have. Still, I think that I have regret. Does it ever get better? Will I remain on this island of grief forever? I am a believer. I know that God is with me and will help me through this. This is my first time trying to write in a forum about the situation. I write privately as an outlet every day. I don't even know if what I'm saying makes sense. I'm trying to keep it from being too painful for others to read. I hurt so much. I thought there would be people around for me, as I have been the one around for others. The longer I've been alone the easier it becomes to hide. I just hope I don't disappear. Sigh. I don't know if this is normal or not. All I want to do is grieve in a healthy manner but it feels like I'm doing something wrong. I need someone to talk with but at this point I don't even know where to really start. I'm not used to feeling so confused. It seems that suddenly I don't know who to trust. And I don't know wants to listen. Especially to something so messy. So, this is me at least taking one step forward, I suppose. Oddly enough just writing this out has made me feel sick. I've come back twice and considered deleting it. All of this so abnormal for me. I've never felt so awkward or lost.
My younger sister and I were never able to attend Good Friday Mass together because we worked at different cities. Last year was the first time we were together for Good Friday Mass and stayed till the end - got the chance to kiss the Cross. She was a bit uncomfortable but we were full of hope, the doctor just came up with a new treatment plan. Good Friday is coming up tomorrow but my beautiful sister is no longer here with me. The hymn " My God, My God, Why You have Abandoned Me" has an entire different meaning to me now. I am so consumed with sadness that going to Good Friday Mass will be too painful. My dearest sister, how I long to see your face again!