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My Brother Is Dying

Guest Barb Fowls

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Guest Barb Fowls

My brother was diagnosed two months ago with stage 4 metastatic carsinoma. He lives 2000 miles away from me, but I was able to be there when he got the actual diagnosis. He is married and has two children - a 12 year old daughter and a 17 year old son.

There are 6 siblings in my family and our parents are still alive. We live all over the country, but we have been taking turns going out to spend time with him. Next week is my turn and I am really wondering if I should even be going.

During all of the turmoil, my grandmother passed away. I'm sure that is contributing to my emotional instability right now, but I have not been able to get control of my emotions since this whole ordeal began. I have been crying uncontrollably for over two months. I have talked to a psychologist who told me I'm grieving and its normal.

That may be, but when I go out there, I'm supposed to be strong and supportive. I want to be able to talk openly and honestly with him and I want him to be able to talk to me about anything and everything. I'm afraid I won't be able to be strong, I'm afraid I'm going to make it worse for him and his family because they will see me constantly either crying or trying to control it.

And when its time for me to come back home, how do I say goodbye to him, not knowing if its the last time I'll see him on this earth?? I can't stop thinking about him, what he's going through, what his family is going through and what this is doing to my parents and other brothers and sisters. I seem to be the only one who is having this much difficulty dealing with it all.

It is affecting all aspects of my life - my own husband and children, my job, everything. I will never be the same. How can I accept the loss of my little brother?

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Guest kristen

Hi my name is kristen and my 27 yr old brother just died in a motorcycle accident back in march. i was reading you post and i wanted to urge you to tell him everything you want to say to him. i didnt get to say good bye to my brother we werent very close and i assume living as far away as you do it may be the same thing. if i am wrong i opologize but i would give anything just to be able to tell him how much i care about him and loved him and what an impact he had in my life. so please before you dont get the chance to say what you have to say please say it so you do regret it. it would be one of the biggest mistakes if you have the chance and you dont take it and this may unfortunately be your last chance so take it!

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Guest Guest_michelle

I understand how you feel. my brother died suddenly followed by my grandmother a month later. I remember trying to control myself as I visited my grandmother in the hospital, trying not to make it worse for her and other relatives. I literally shook with grief over all that had happened and was happening. I remember her looking at me and grasping my hand for compfort. Truthfully I felt bad for not being able to "maintain control", but I know she understood and would have wanted nothing but for me to be there. Death is a process for everyone involved in the persons life, no one expects you not to be emotional. It is hard but you will get through it. You may cry, and feel desperate but you may also laugh and be able to share in your love for eachother and the memories. Your family can help you through this. Have you discussed your feelings with them? If not it may help some.

The summer before my brother died we talked a lot about everything and anything. I am so glad I had the chance because now it brings me peace. In my experience the dying have a remarkable way of bringing peace and understanding to those distraught over their passage. I am sure your brother understands how you feel. And don't feel guilty if it is he who compforts you; mankind can be remarkable creatures at times. I hope some of this has helped. Goodluck and keep us posted, you will be in my thoughts.


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Dear Ones,

I want to thank you all for your words of wisdom. Please see an article I just wrote on this very subject, Should I Tell My Dad He's Dying?

I also want to refer you – and everyone else who may be interested – to a very important book by Ira Byock, M.D., an international leader in hospice care, called The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book about Living, ISBN 0743249097.

To give you a sense of its powerful message, here is a brief excerpt that I’ve posted on the Comfort for Grieving Hearts page of my Grief Healing Web site:

Please forgive me.

I forgive you.

Thank you.

I love you.

These four simple statements are powerful tools

for improving your relationships and your life.

As a doctor caring for seriously ill patients

for nearly 15 years of emergency medicine practice

and more than 25 years in hospice and palliative care,

I have taught hundreds of patients who were facing life's end,

when suffering can be profound,

to say The Four Things.

But the Four Things apply at any time.

Comprising just eleven words,

these four short sentences carry the core wisdom

of what people who are dying have taught me

about what matters most in life . . .

We are all sons and daughters,

whether we are six years of age or ninety-six.

Even the most loving parent-child relationship

can feel forever incomplete

if your mother or father dies

without having explicitly expressed affection for you

or without having acknowledged past tensions.

I've learned from my patients and their families

about the painful regret that comes

from not speaking these most basic feelings.

Again and again, I've witnessed the value

of stating the obvious.

When you love someone,

it is never too soon to say, "I love you,"

or premature to say, "Thank you,"

"I forgive you," or "Will you please forgive me?"

When there is nothing of profound importance left unsaid,

relationships tend to take on an aspect of celebration, as they should . . .

Because accidents and sudden illness do happen,

it is never too soon to express forgiveness,

to say thank you and I love you

to the people who have been an integral or intimate part of our lives,

and to say good-bye is a blessing.

These simple words hold essential wisdom

for transforming that which matters most in our lives --

our relationships with the people we love.

-- from The Four Things That Matter Most : A Book About Living

© 2004 by Ira Byock, M.D.

Free Press, New York

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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