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10 Years Since I Lost My Older Brother


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This December it will be 10 years since my older brother (Matt) passed away. It seems like a long time, but as I'm sure some of you know, it realy is not. My brother passed away December 26, 1998. The last time I saw him was Christmas day. I was in the Navy at the time and was going to be shipping out to Rota, Spain after my holiday leave. My oldest brother made Matt and I hug each other good bye before Matt went back to his apartment because he knew it would be a long time until we saw each other again. Matt and I were always close and usually just made a smart ass comment to eachother or shook hands before parting ways, but this time we ackwardly hugged each other. At the time I was a little annoyed at my oldest brother for making us hug, but now it is something I could never repay him for. Not many people get to actually hug thier loved one goodbye. Matt and I were always very close to eachother. He was the charasmatic, social risk taker, and I was the thoughtful voice of reason. Together we got eachother both into and out of a lot of trouble. We were best friends, and, at times, worst enemies. When I reluctantly hugged him goodbye on Christmas day, I had no idea it would be the last hug.

The morning after Christmas I decided to drive back to base. Before going back to base, I planned on meeting some friends at the local mall. My friends and I met and had lunch together and I was going to follow them back to thier house, but the post christmas traffic was crazy and we ended up loosing each other. I actually ended up going in the direction of my brothers apartment, and for a moment, considered just going there and hanging out with him or even just staying over night with him until the post christmas traffic cleared up. After contemplating this, I decided that it would be best if I'd just continue toward base. Sometimes I think to myself that, if I had decided to go to my brother's apartment, he wouldn't have died that night. The night after Christmas my brother decided to have a few friends over to his apartment just to hang out and drink. One of his friends had some heroine and offered it to my brother. Being the risk taker that he was, he snorted some and ended up overdosing and passing away that night. His friends say that they thought he just fell asleep, so they picked him up, layed him on the couch, put a blanket over him and left.

My parents and I find it suspicious that an entire group of people would suddenly decide to leave a party all at the same time. At my brother's viewing one of the girls that was at his party that night said that my brother came out of the bathroom upset and said that he didn't feel good. Then he collapsed and they put him on the couch. My parents hired a private investigator who found that the toxicology results from my brother's autopsy suggest that he had so much heroine in his body that he wouldn't have even been able to walk from the bathroom, all the way down the hallway, and into the room where everyone else was. Also, from the photographs of my brother's body lying on the couch, an investigator stated that my brother couldn't have possibly layed down on the couch himself. His body was positioned in such a way that suggested someone else placed him on the couch.

I think that his friend's, including the drug dealer friend that gave him the heroine, freaked out when they saw Matt going through an overdose. I think they picked him up off the floor, placed him on the couch, and promptly left. The issue I've been dealing with since my brother died, is that I would like to know the truth. Mysteriously, a few years after my brother died, my parents recied an envelope through the mail with no return postage address. In the envelope was a news paper clipping. The article that was highlighted was about a man who was left to die of an overdose in the same manner that my brother died. This mysterious letter was given to the private investigator. Unfortunetly noone is willing to look further into my brother's case. The local law enforcement just chalked my brother's death up to another twenty something kid that OD'ed on heroine. The frustration is overwhelming. It would be great just to find out for a fact whether our suspicions are right or wrong.

There are a lot of other issues I am going through, related to my brother's death. I'll spare you them for now. I plan on posting more when I am moved to. I am sorry that you all are experiencing the loss of a sibling as I am. I wish none of us had to be in this forum right now. Until later.

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Okay, looks like I do have more I want to vent about right now. I don't understand how his "friends" could have left him to die! If they would have just picked up the phone and called an ambulance, an EMT could have possibly saved his life. Rather than being a decade into grieving my brother's loss I could be writting about my brother's close call with death!

Sometimes I wonder what he would be like as a 34 year old man. Would he have kids by now? Would he have ended up being a strict father or a layed back one? What would his kids have been like? Now don't get me wrong, I don't only find fault with his friends for (according to my suspicisions) leaving him to die. I also fault him for being so stupid as to take such a notoriously leathal drug! Perhaps if I was there (I was often his voice of reason) he would not have taken such a risk.

I read on a sibling loss website that one of the things siblings do for eachother in life is make up for the other person's weaknesses. I think this is true. My brother was the charasmatic, social one, and I was the thoughtful voice of reason. We definetly leaned on eachother to make up for our own weaknesses. So when my brother died, so did the charasmatic, social part of my personality. Now, don't get me wrong, I have always been able to maintain my own individual friendships with people. I didn't totally rely on him for that. But when he passed away, I realy withdrew from being social. I used to be more charasmatic and "alive". I used to reach out to people and maintain friendships, but now I can honestly say, I only really have one person I would call a friend. Only one person other than my wife and children who I could say that I have a friendly relationship with. It took me almost 10 years to come to the realization that I allowed a big part of who I was to die with my brother. The hardest thing I find that I'll have to do is to reach out again. It is almost too painful to. I don't know why. I am not the dead one. Perhaps it is guilt. Am I subconscously inhibiting myself from reaching out to people because I know that my brother can't? Is this out of guilt? How the hell do I start to do this again? I really don't want to betray my brother. I'm so afraid of living when he can't. I don't want to leave him behind. He has to rest every day and night under six feet of dirt while I get to smell the faint hint of wood burning in the crisp winter air. I get to come inside and snuggle up next to my wife in a comfortable bed while he slowly decomposes in a casket. It just doesn't seem fair. I both know and hope that one day I'll get through this grief enough to live my life 100%, but before I do that I have a very, very hard journey to make. 10 years later and I'm just learning the first steps that I'll have to take. Plainly, simply, and bluntly, this sucks. Any words of wisdom would help immensly. Thanks.

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Dear Friend,

I’m so sorry to learn of the death of your brother Matt, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to come to terms with such a loss, especially since he died under such suspicious circumstances. Not only was this loss sudden and unexpected; it’s complicated by the fact that nearly ten years later, you’re still not certain how or why your brother died, you’re still troubled by feelings of anger and guilt, and you’re still struggling to make some sense of this tragedy. Was his traumatic death an accidental suicide, or a negligent homicide? To what extent were his friends involved?

I cannot answer the who or the how or the why, but I can assure you that learning to understand and manage your own grief is your greatest power over this traumatic loss. Since it’s never too late to do the work of mourning, I hope you will consider joining a suicide or homicide bereavement support network, or seeing a grief counselor or therapist ~ preferably one who has experience with traumatic loss and/or suicide and homicide bereavement.

You might also find these earlier posts helpful; make sure to follow the links you’ll find embedded in them:

Delayed Grief

Very Tough to Move On, Homicide of a Brother

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm having a rough day today. I moved away from my home town in PA when I joined the military and was feeling a little home sick, so I decided to look up some pictures of the creek that we used to play in as kids and other things. Seeing those photos really made me miss my brother. It sucks not being able to talk to him anymore. When you loose your brother or sister, you really do loose a part of your history. I can't tell you how bad I'd love to just sit with him for an hour or two, smoke some cigarettes (even though I quit about 7 years ago), and catch him up on everything that's been going on in my life. I wonder what he would think about the world today. I mean, as far as he's concerned the World Trade Towers are still standing, Arnold Schwarzenegger is just an action movie star, the last war we were in was Desert Storm, and Bill Clinton's still president. I would love to sit with him and update him on the what's happening in the world as well as what's happening in my own life. I wonder how well he would get along with my wife. I bet they would have gotten along. They both share a michevious nature. I would have loved to see him play with my children. They would have loved thier Uncle Matt. He was great with little kids. My little cousins always surrounded him because he was so much fun. I actually miss busting each other's balls about, well, just about anything. I miss that guy so much. It's days like today that I wish I could take off of work early, go home, grab a blanket and curl up in a corner and just cry or sleep, or zone out on some television. But I can't do that. I have to watch my kids for my wife while she cleans the house. I have to pick up dinner on the way home and I can't forget to stop by the grocery store for some milk or my toddler will go thirsty because milk's all he'll drink. Then I have to entertain my children until they go to bed. It'll be 8pm by then and my wife'll want to relax and hang out. Which is actually one of my favorite times of the day. But today I really wish I could just be depressed. Is it healthy to sort of ignore this need? Shouldn't I put family first, always? I mean there are things in life the have to be done. Where do I draw the line and say, OK, that's it, I need some time? I find it hard to demand the time that I need to be depressed. I don't feel like I have a good enough excuse. I mean, my brother did die just about 10 years ago. Should I still be requiring time just to be depressed or should I just suck it up and move on allready? I feel bad for my poor wife who has to chase around children all day as I sit at my desk job. I don't feel that it's right for me to come home and request even more time to myself. I'm at a loss here.

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Hello again, my friend. May I suggest that instead of "requiring time to be depressed" you think of this as time to do the grief work that didn't get done ten years ago, when your brother died? Perhaps (when the timing is right) you could explain to your wife that for whatever reason, lately you've been thinking a lot about Matt's death and you've come to realize that you have a lot of unfinished business connected with it. You might tell her that you've only just begun investigating the notion of delayed grief reactions, you're not quite sure if this is what's going on with you, but you need some time to look into it further, and you'd appreciate her patience and understanding right now.

I don't think there is anything wrong with explaining to your spouse that you need some quiet time and space to deal with something that is bothering you. What's important is to let your wife know that it has little or nothing to do with her or your relationship with her, so she can be reassured that things are still okay between the two of you. You know your wife better than I do ~ maybe if she knew what's been bothering you she'd be the very person you need right now to talk with openly about all of this. If she cannot be there for you in that way, or if your needs exceed her capacity to help with this, then I would encourage you to bring your concerns about your brother's death to another trusted other, such as a clergy person, close friend, other relative, or even a grief counselor.

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  • 8 months later...

I read your words about Matt and I feel like you are reading from my inner thoughts.. I too have lost a brother.. His name is Terry and he was killed in a car accident.. It has been 12 years now and it still hurts so bad.. I have thought alot about the things you have with updating my brother on the current events.. and what he would think about what is going on in this world.. Terry was 16 when he died.. and I feel a big part of myself dies along with him.. I feel sad for living my life and watching my children grow when he can not do that. That feels like something we should do together..He would have been a GREAT Uncle to my three kids. He always loved kids..I notice as I reread what I typed I refered to my brother as HIS NAME IS TERRY.. like he is in the present tence.. because to me he kind of always will be..Next year would be his 30th Birthday! 30 The BIG 30 only he won't be here to blow out his candles and see his daughter as she turns 13 years old..(his girlfriend was pregnant when he died.) There is a huge void in our family without him..I Miss him terriably sometimes I listen to Music and just think about him.. one song that always makes me think about him is.. Who'd You be today, by Kenny Chesney The song starts out.. Sunny Days seem to hurt the most, I wear the pain like a heavy coat.. I feel you everywhere I go.. I see your smile I see your face I hear you laughing in the rain.. I still can't beleive your gone.. It aint fair you died to young the death tore the pages all away.

this song captures exactley how I feel and how I miss Terry so much.. and It aint fair that he died to young..12 years feels like yesterday to me..Big hus to you..from one Greiving sibling to another..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am so sorry for you both, in these moments i am always tempted to say 'i know how you feel' but i will refrain from doing so because as we all know that simply isnt true, no matter how similar the circumstances, we all go through our own individual journeys to deal with this. I lost my big brother at 15, i always called him my big brother because he's the eldest or he was, my other brother is now older than he was when he died, im still getting used to that but he will continue to be my big brother :) Before his death i was suffering badly with childhood depression after watching my mother suffer with the same illness, i found life hard and he struggled to understand this, i very much doubt that he understood the severity of my illness until he began to suffer himself. This brought us so close, although he would never really confide in me about his emotions (i suspect this is because im his little sister and he wanted to protect me as best he could) he would always listen and i felt as though he was the only one that understood. If i was having a partcularly bad day all i had to do was call him n he'd come and pick me up from school on the days i had managed to go in and take me to mcdonalds to cheer me up. Until three years ago when his car collided with a lorry, it was thrown into a field and set alight, so many people tried to help, people burnt their hands trying to save my brothers life although they did not suceed i am eternally grateful for their efforts. The press took photos of my brothers burnt out car with his body still inside and stuck them on the front page of the local paper this made me feel so sick, the photos didnt show anything obviously but i knew and that was enough. I had to tell my other brother what had happened to our brother and his best friend, my parents were too distraught and i didnt want him to hear it the same way i had although i think it would have been better than what i said, all i could say is 'Paul's dead' his face broke my heart all over again. Ever since this day i have been trying to deal with it and i believe ive done well. I recovered from depresseion and im now studying to be a teacher at university he has since been in contact with a family member through a medium, he told us that he was sorry, that it was not suicide, that he felt no pain and that he is watching over us. This has been a great comfort to me but i still remain angry at the world to a certain degree, mostly angry at god, how dare he take somebody i so desperately needed, relied on and love, how dare he take someone so young and how dare he leave the rest of us behind to deal with it. There have been so many days where i have wished i am with him, i now understand that i am needed here for now but when my time comes i know hes waiting.

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  • 4 months later...

Sorry for all your losses. I lost my big brother in January and it has been so tough to accept the fact that I will not see him again, until we meet in heaven. I have so much pain and yes even some guilt. What more could I have done. He faced death with such dignity and calm, it amazes me. He has cancer in his brain stem and cratic artery, yet he always had a smile for me. He did not complain even when I knew the pain was too much. I miss him everyday and don't know how to stop the crying and pain. I lost both my parents in the 80's and one of my other brothers in 75.

Maybe I am greiving them all over again!

My prayers are with all of you.

Patti

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