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I Miss My Brother

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I'm new to this site. My brother died 3 weeks ago today. His life for the last 1.5 years has been very stressful. His wife, pregnant with their 3rd child, was diagnosed with MS about that time. She has gone downhill fast. Mackenzie was born in November 2006. She spent the first 4 weeks in the hospital because of a hospital screwup. Since then, he'd been trying to take care of all 3 kids, work full time, and take care of his wife. The last several months he was on anti-depressants and had turned to drinking for relief. He decided a few months back he was going to move back to Ohio (from Arizona) to be closer to my parents and I since we could offer more support and help. He called Septmeber 30th asking me to come out and help get the house ready to sell, he wanted to move back the last week in October. He had pneumonia and really needed help. I have a 14 month old son that I can't bear the thought of being away from and I told him I couldn't come out but my husband could. My brother called my mom and her boyfriend the next day and asked them to come too and help. Their relationship has been bad for many years so this really surprised me. Mom and Jim flew out Oct 13th, my husband was to fly out on the 18th. They said the house was really bad and that Rick was in really bad shape and was drinking heavily. I talked to him that Sunday and had a heart to heart about the drinking. He told me he couldn't promise he'd quit but he did promise for the rest of that day he wouldn't drink. He had never broken a promise to me. I told him I would just call him every morning and get him to make me the same promise. He laughed and said ok. It was a good conversation and thank god it ended with Love you's. My mom called me at work the next morning and told me they found him dead when they got up. My knees gave out and I sat ont he floor at working crying and crying. We found out he died from an ascending aortic aneurysm. At least it was quick. After the first two days of crying, it seemed like a blanket of peace and understanding came over me. It was like I was really ok with this. Rick was my soulmate. We had things rough growing up (not terrible but rough) and had become each others best friends. When I was 3 my dad was diagnosed bipolar. Rick stepped in and became my father figure. Over the years we just got closer and closer. My mom describes us as twins born 5 years apart. We could look at each other and know what the other was thinking. Even being 2000 miles apart, we both sent my dad the same fathers day card one year. We were just that close. When he died, I lost not only my brother, but my father, best friend, soulmate, mentor and hero.

Until yesterday, I thought I was doing ok. Then this sense of I should have been there, I didn't do enough, I didn't do my part has come over me. I don't know if everything is just starting to hit me, if I've been in denial the last 3 weeks or what. With the condition his wife is in (the MS has not only taken a physical toll on her but also a mental one - the doctor said she has early signs of dimensia) I worry about the kids. They are 6 (almost 7), 3-1/2 and 11 months old. I feel like since I didn't do enough for Rick that I need to make sure I don't let anything happen to the kids. I can't tell if my thoughts are just or are they being played on by my emotions. And then I think, ok, I'm only going by what my brother had told me, am I getting the whole picture? His wife didn't seem that out of it when I flew out for the service but he had told me she has good days and bad, the bad are just really bad. I can't tell if I'm just transferring my focus from the grief I feel to the kids or what. I can't make much sense of anything right now. From the time I dropped my son off at daycare this morning, all I've wanted to do is cry today. I don't understand why I had this peaceful feeling about everything and now it's gone. I dont' feel like I can talk to any of my family or friends about it because I had been handling everything so well for the last 3 weeks. I don't know what to do anymore. Does anyone have any words of wisdom??? Whenever I felt like this about anything, I would call my brother. He was always kinda like my lighthouse in the storm. I feel soooo lost without him!

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My dear friend,

I’m so very sorry to learn of the sudden, unexpected death of your beloved brother, who clearly was your soulmate ~ I love your mom’s description that the two of you were twins, born five years apart. I simply cannot imagine the magnitude of this loss in your life, and for that you have our deepest sympathy.

You say that after the first two days of crying, it seemed like a blanket of peace and understanding came over you, as if you were “really ok with this.” But now that the initial shock and numbness are beginning to wear off, you’re being hit with the full force of your grief, and you’re wondering what in the world is happening to you. What is worse, you are now without your best source of support, because you cannot turn to your brother for the sage advice he’s always been there to give to you. You’re also caught in a bind because “I dont' feel like I can talk to any of my family or friends about it because I had been handling everything so well for the last 3 weeks.” Given all of that, is it any wonder that you’re feeling so frightened, lost, and alone?

I hope that, through reading some of the other messages posted in this forum and on this site, you will come to see that this grief you are feeling is neither an illness nor a pathological condition ~ Rather, it is a normal reaction to the death of someone you loved with all your heart. We often say here that the work of mourning is some of the hardest work you will ever have to do, and to expect that you can do it all by yourself is neither realistic nor necessary. You have suffered a broken heart, just as surely as if it had been torn in two. If any other part of your body were so injured, you wouldn’t be questioning your pain or chastising yourself for not being able to “handle it” better than you are.

I can certainly understand and appreciate your concern about your sister-in-law and her children, but it seems to me that right now the best way you can help them with their grief is to take care of your own grief first. How can you do that? By reaching out to others for the support that you need right now. If family members and friends cannot “be there” for you in the way that you need them to be ~ or in the way that your brother always has been in the past ~ or if your needs exceed their capacity to help, I hope you will consider some other alternatives. You’ve taken the first step by posting in this forum, where you’ve acknowledged that “I don’t know what to do anymore.” In addition to sharing your story here with us and surrounding yourself with the caring and compassionate people you will find here, you might also consider finding a trusted friend, relative, clergy person, grief counselor or grief support group where you can talk over and explore some of these concerns, get your feelings validated, come to a greater understanding of what you are experiencing, and learn some ways to manage your reactions. It also helps to do some reading about grief in general and loss of a sibling or twin in particular ~ the Death of a Sibling or Twin page of my Grief Healing Web site is a very good place to start.

Although your beloved brother is no longer here with you in the physical sense, my friend, I hope it brings you comfort to know that he still exists in your heart and in your memory ~ and the very special relationship you have with him, the love you feel for him, certainly has not died.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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