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1 Year Anniversary


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I am new to this group. I was looking around for a place to talk and found this website. My Brother Ben passed away on Oct 20th last year, 2010. The 1 year is this Thursday and I am feeling very fragile. Ben had cancer. He was diagnosed in July of 2009. He lived with this for 15 months and fought harder than anybody I have ever known! NEVER, did he complain to any of us. He was so brave. What an example he was to me and the rest of our family with regards to courage and bravery. The last 3 months of his life, he kind of stopped communicating with us. Just text messages and occasional phone calls to our parents. He was so tired and was in so much pain. The cancer was in his bones. As I'm sure you all know, it's so painful to know your Brother is hurting and not be able to do a damn thing about it. We had a wonderful family vacation in June 2010. He had so much fun.We sat on the beach with our parents and other Brother (younger)who played guitar under the tent while the cool breeze blew on all of us. Long days and early nights. Very memorable. That is the way I'd like to remember Ben, smiling, laughing, all that. He loved Mother's cooking and ate it up on that trip. We scheduled a family reunion for Oct 16th 2010. Ben chose the date. All the cousins and aunts and uncles would all drive in to see one another, but the truth was, we were all coming in to see Ben. SO when we left him in June, he looked great! He was doing EVERYTHING he could to survive. With his diet, his chemo, you name it, he was doing it! 3 months went by and October rolled around. I knew that he had been having a hard time through conversations he had with Mom and Dad. He kinda withdrew from me a bit. Only texting every now and then. The reunion was upon us and we were all very excited to see him. When we arrived, he had completely changed. He looked like a different person. He was so doped up on drugs that I did not even know if he knew I was there. IS this really happening?????? OMG, my Brother is dying right in front of me!! (Is all I could think.) He was poolside and family that had arrived earlier was all around him. I walked up and knelt down to hug him. I stayed right beside him for the rest of the day. Holding his hand, rubbing his arm, getting him water if he needed it. We all knew what was happening. As sad as it was, we were ALL there and that was what mattered. And HE KNEW IT! My parents and son and I and younger Brother sat around him before we left for the night and prayed on him. He closed his eyes and let us do this. He was not very spiritual, but we are.

The reunion weekend had started and we went to our rented house. I went to my room and cried my eyes out. The last time I saw Ben he looked great! He had flown into the town where we had our vacation last June and was fine....how could he be like this in just 3 months?? God Bless HIM, he got dressed and went to the reunion location. My fiance' and younger Brother helped him up the stairs and he sat with everyone for a couple hours.

He was so out of it. He went home (a mile way) and laid down. He was hungry, so Mom made him grits and sausage early in the a.m. As I walked in to bring him the food, he was crying. Tears streaming down his face. It was all too much! I'll never get that image out of my head!! My sweet, beautiful, talented Brother, in so much pain. I stayed with him for a little while and then went back down to our rental. I laid my head in my Mothers lap and cried like a baby. SO did she. We were losing Ben. It was never more clear to me than it was at that moment. We went to him later in the morning and left back for Atlanta. Planning to come back in 2 days. In 2 days, Ben had entered hospice care. The minute I heard, I jumped in my car and made the 5 hour drive. When I got there, he was in the bed with an oxygen task attached to his face. I don't even want to tell you what I heard coming from his body, but it horrified me to my very core. My parents arrived soon after me and we all sat in the room with Ben. I held his hand and stroked his forehead. He left this world an hour after we arrived. He waited for us. He also waited for the reunion. He held out as long as he could. It's amazing to me that a persons will can be so strong that they can actually keep themselves alive.

I miss this man so much. My big Brother. I am getting married on 11.11.11 It would have been Ben's 48th Bday. My parents are doing ok. My Father is who we really worried about. We are all still very raw. It's always right there on the surface for me. I'm not comfortable with this kind of pain. Thursday at 6pm will be 1 year. Any advice for me and my family? Please somebody tell me it get's easier. I think about Ben every day of my life and still find myself in disbelief that he is gone for good. This really happened. It was not a bad dream. I feel like my self is still accepting this happened in pieces because accepting it all at once is too much. (sigh)

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I'm so very sorry for the loss of your beloved brother Ben, and I know that nothing I can say will take away the pain you are feeling now, especially as the first-year anniversary of his death approaches. It is completely understandable that fresh feelings of grief will crash over you, and leave you feeling almost as if this death just happened. I'm afraid there is no escaping such feelings ~ there is only enduring them and surrendering to them, knowing from your own experience over these last several months that you will survive.

You say that you find yourself in disbelief that your brother is "gone for good," but that is true only if you choose to see it that way. The memories and love you shared are still very much a part of you; you even share the same DNA! He is "gone" in the physical sense, but he will continue to live on to the extent that you find ways keep his memory alive in your mind and in your heart. Your task now is to find a way to continue loving your brother in his absence.

As you immerse yourself in wedding plans over the next few weeks, I encourage you to think about and find a very personal and meaningful way to include your brother in your ceremony, so you and your family will have the feeling that he is remembered, honored, and very much included as an important part of your very special day. See, for example:

Remembering deceased relatives at our wedding?

Honoring a deceased relative at a wedding

How to honor deceased relative at wedding?

Rituals such as weddings (not unlike funerals) offer us an amazing opportunity to be as creative as we can in recognizing and honoring those we love, and you are limited only by your own preferences and your own imagination.

You also said it is your dad that you're most worried about. You might find this article helpful: Helping a Grieving Parent

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Thank you. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I am including Ben in our wedding ceremony. An empty chair, a while rose, and dedicating the entire wedding in his memory, listed in the program. I guess it's just time to grow up and realize that people do die. People come into our lives and they leave. That we must live everyday we have here to the fullest. I know this. My head knows this, but my heart still aches. Thank you for your words.

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