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Talking to Someone Who is Closed Off


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My brother always tells me that when I feel down I can always call him to talk to him. I've done that in the past but I don't anymore because he's not easy to talk to. And now he wonders why I don't talk to him anymore.. I want to tell him why but I don't want to hurt his feelings.

I understand that everyone reacts differently to grief but I worry about the way he deals with it. He never talks about it. If I bring up feeling sad on a holiday, or a death day, his response is "it's just another day, quit putting so much emphasis on it." When I tried to express being sad over the loss of my cats, he tells me "why do you adopt them in the first place if you just end up being upset when they die?"

Maybe he's not wrong about the death anniversary thing, I don't know but what I do know is that my mind just doesn't work that way. I can't just shut it off like he can. Is it healthy that he just puts everything aside and forgets about it? We never talk about the loss of mom and dad. It's just really hard to talk to him about these things because he's just put up a wall. How do I tell him the real reason I don't approach him with my grief without hurting him? I know it's not his fault, he wants to be there for me. We only have each other family-wise and I find that friends and colleagues are impossible to talk to. 

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Honestly, I don't see how someone who is that unempathetic can get hurt so easily, I would just tell him how it makes me feel, how else will he learn?  People who aren't pet people don't get how we feel or how close you can get to them.  I have a neighbor that makes remarks that indicate they're "just an animal."  And he owns one.  I think I love her more than he does!  I feel sorry for the dog but her mom loves her.  Still, they're one of the "animals don't belong on furniture" people.  And they put her in a kennel for hours with no food, water, toys, chews, blanket.  I couldn't do that.

I hope you can find a friend that gets it, we need at least one person that does.  I have my sister but she has dementia and I don't know how much longer I'll have her...and there's days she's out of it now.

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1 hour ago, Novi said:

We never talk about the loss of mom and dad. It's just really hard to talk to him about these things because he's just put up a wall. How do I tell him the real reason I don't approach him with my grief without hurting him? I know it's not his fault, he wants to be there for me.

I'm so sorry that you're feeling such distance from your brother as you long to share your grief with him. I want to share some readings with you that I hope will help. And if you think your brother would be willing to read one or more of them too, you might share some of them with him. Inviting him to read something that you found helpful can be an effective yet indirect and less threatening way of letting him know what you may be feeling. Just make sure that you read them first, so you'll know what you're recommending and why:

How We Mourn: Understanding Our Differences

Grief Support: When Others Fail to Meet Our Expectations

Losing A Cherished Pet: Myths and Misconceptions

Is Pet Loss Comparable to Loss of A Loved One?

Helping Another with Pet Loss

 

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4 hours ago, kayc said:

Honestly, I don't see how someone who is that unempathetic can get hurt so easily, I would just tell him how it makes me feel, how else will he learn?  People who aren't pet people don't get how we feel or how close you can get to them.  I have a neighbor that makes remarks that indicate they're "just an animal."  And he owns one.  I think I love her more than he does!  I feel sorry for the dog but her mom loves her.  Still, they're one of the "animals don't belong on furniture" people.  And they put her in a kennel for hours with no food, water, toys, chews, blanket.  I couldn't do that.

I hope you can find a friend that gets it, we need at least one person that does.  I have my sister but she has dementia and I don't know how much longer I'll have her...and there's days she's out of it now.

I don't think it's just because he's unempathetic, I think he trained himself to be stoic after our dad died. He took it hard, and I have guilt about not being there for him. We were split up after his death and it wasn't until years later that he told me how it had affected him. He was only twelve when it happened and as a result he was left abandoned by his dad, along with the taboo that suicide is for the weak. He grew up trying to compensate for that in different ways like joining extreme sports and fighting a lot. As silly as this is he also told me that for awhile he insisted on using a big spoon for everything he ate that required a spoon because he thought adults used the big ones and that he needed to be an adult. At twelve this is going through his mind. I wish I was there for him. 

We were supposed to write a book together that my mom and I started writing. She started it and I finished it when she was too sick to continue. We just documented her illness in a day by day journal and I was left with hundreds of pages of notes which my brother and I were going to compile into a book. But he told me he isn't ready yet to relive those memories, so I know he does feel he's just afraid to show emotion.

3 hours ago, MartyT said:

I'm so sorry that you're feeling such distance from your brother as you long to share your grief with him. I want to share some readings with you that I hope will help. And if you think your brother would be willing to read one or more of them too, you might share some of them with him. Inviting him to read something that you found helpful can be an effective yet indirect and less threatening way of letting him know what you may be feeling. Just make sure that you read them first, so you'll know what you're recommending and why:

How We Mourn: Understanding Our Differences

Grief Support: When Others Fail to Meet Our Expectations

Losing A Cherished Pet: Myths and Misconceptions

Is Pet Loss Comparable to Loss of A Loved One?

Helping Another with Pet Loss

 

Thanks Marty. I've actually read all of those links already. It's never occurred to me to share some of them with my brother. He loves to read so I could probably see if they can help. 

I especially loved your response to the person who said animal grief didn't belong here. It was to the point and very elegantly put. 

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21 hours ago, Novi said:

I especially loved your response to the person who said animal grief didn't belong here.

Wow.  Just wow.  People never cease to amaze me.

Thank you Marty to your apt response!

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