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Complicated relationship with Brother whom has cancer

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I just found out recently that my brother, whom is in his late 40s, has been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. He has 7 tumors. 

We haven’t seen each for over a decade and now we are back in-touch due to his battle with cancer. 

I am finding my emotions around this reunification after so many years to be very confusing. I am already anticipating his death and how I will feel when he passes. yet I have already grieved the loss of him over a decade ago. It is as though I am talking to his ghost now. We can’t see each other because of Covid, so that adds another layer. Basically, I am extremely sad, angry at him for not coming around sooner, when he was well, and the fact that he doesn’t want to talk about why we didn’t speak. I would like to, but I feel muzzled because it is a dying mans wishes not to talk about it. Is that right? I don’t know...

I have been to a grief counselor, but I don’t know if it helped yet. Only one session, so I should keep going. 

Any sage advice would be helpful.

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I'm so sorry that you find yourself in such a difficult and challenging position, but pleased to know that you've found your way here with us. I understand your wanting to respect "a dying man's wishes not to talk about it" while at the same time your own need to do so leaves you feeling muzzled. Two thoughts come to mind.

First, as your brother faces his diagnosis and lives whatever time is left to him, bear in mind that (just like living) dying is a process that takes place over time, and however he thinks, feels and behaves toward you right now is likely to change over the course of his illness. Don't assume that his reluctance to talk about these matters right now is indicative of how he'll always feel.

Second, just because he doesn't want to talk about these matters with you right now need not prevent you from finding another way to "un-muzzle" yourself. Maybe you could give some thought to what you need to say to him, then put your thoughts in writing, in the form of a letter or even as entries in a journal. Such a letter doesn't have to be sent to him or even read by him ~ the idea is to help YOU find a way to get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. A letter is something you can save, revise as needed, and keep until such time as you think your brother would be more open to reading it. If that time never comes, at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you expressed yourself and had your say.

Another idea: Maybe you could share an article or a book with him, as an indirect way of opening him to the idea of addressing the unfinished business between you two. I am thinking of Ira Byock's wonderful book, The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. (If you do suggest something like this, make sure to read it first yourself, so you'll know why you're recommending it to him.) You'll find lots of relevant suggestions here: Coping with A Cancer Diagnosis: Suggested Resources

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I am sorry for all you are going through, and him too.  While honoring/respecting his wishes, Marty's idea is a great one!

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