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Lost Brother Recently, Relationship Problems, Depression

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Hi everyone.

I'm very happy to find this forum.

My brother died of a heroin overdose a month and a day ago. We were very close and I know he was only using casually--he seemed to be getting better and holding a job, writing frequently, studying for the GRE. I was taxi'ing on the runway on the way to Arizona for a work trip when my partner called me to tell me to get off the plane because my brother was dead. My family lives halfway across the country, so there was a lot of planning and travel involved in having a memorial for my brother. My partner was fantastic in the first 2 weeks after Derek's death. He was supportive, helpful, and kind to my parents and my extended family.

And then last week things seemed to change. On labor day he pointedly asked me to stop being selfish and include him more in planning things for us. He says that he feels he's nothing more than a vehicle to secure my needs. I was surprised to hear this, as I thought that before and after Derek's death I was doing nice things for him as much as I could and including him in all my planning and daily life. We had a huge fight and then resolved it, both us ultimately saying that we've been under a massive amount of stress and were taking out insecurities on each other.

One thing he also started doing around the same time, is whenever I am sad or crying or emotional, he says that I need to be stronger for my family, specifically my mother, and not be so self-involved. When my mother emailed me about a heartbreaking dream she had about my brother, I started crying and he took a stern tone and told me to call my mother and not cry or ask her for help, that I need to help her.

Yesterday we went to a large party, a work party for my partner. I'm an introvert and my partner knows I do not like parties, much less going to parties after the death of a close loved one. I drank too much at the party and on the way home I started crying in the front seat, quietly. We had our neighbor in the back seat and my partner basically told me to stop (I was drunk, so I don't remember the exact words). Then, we got in a fight and he slept on the couch and won't talk to me today. I went on Facebook and posted a status that read something like, "F*ck you, everything is lost." My partner told me this morning that he's embarrassed of me and that I made a fool of myself (which I did).

I'm wondering if other people have experienced intense relationship stress following the death of a loved one. I cannot help but feel that my partner is often telling me what and how to feel, without trying to even understand why I might be feeling the way I'm feeling. I feel like I have to hide my grief from him and that we're both pushing each other away. I love him very much and would be completely lost without him. And I already feel incredibly lost and alone with Derek gone. I can barely concentrate at work and most of my co-workers and friends seem to be avoiding me because they don't know what to say--they're all quite young and most haven't lost anyone close to them. Are there resources available online about grief and relationship stress? I've looked around and haven't found much that goes beyond, "Everyone grieves differently, be supportive."

Anything welcome. Thanks for reading.

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I am so very sorry for the loss of your brother. That is a very major loss, even to those who didn't seem particularly close in recent years, because you both experienced your beginnings and growing up together and if anyone would be able to understand you and where you came from, it'd be your brother.

It doesn't sound like your partner has a grasp on what it is to grieve. It does sound as if he is trying to tell you how to grieve, how to feel and that is something one person cannot lay on another person. Each person's grief journey is unique and they are going to experience it uniquely. It could be that your mother would welcome your crying and feel understood by your sharing in her grief rather than your pretending to be differently than you feel.

Your Facebook post was undoubtedly an embarrassment to your partner, and he probably feels you owe him an apology for that and for your drunken expression on the way home from the party. But then again, perhaps it would be good if you weren't compelled to go somewhere you aren't up to and particularly in your state of grief. Your mother didn't just lose a son, you also lost your brother.

Your partner is quick to point out your selfishness...interesting he should note that. Those of us who grieve are selfish! How can it be otherwise! It takes everything within us to deal with what we've just been handed! It is all we can see, think, feel, experience right now! Others can understand that...or not! I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth, ask any of us who've been there!

Whatever you are feeling in your grief, it is normal...it is not outlandish, it is normal.

Yes it's common for others to pull away, not knowing how to respond. We've all lost some friends due to our loss, sounds crazy but it happens more than you think. You will make new ones that may be more in depth.

It helps to express your grief, to talk about it in a safe place where you will be heard and understood and your feelings validated rather than discounted. There is so much that goes with loss...we feel a loss of power as this person died without our say so or input! It helps therefore, to be able to express ourselves and lend credence to how we feel at the very least.

I would definitely make an appt. with a grief counselor, who can help you find your way through the maze of grief and help you identify your feelings and make your way through this journey. It has been eight years since I lost my husband and I can tell you I have learned so much through the grief process, but it was not an overnight journey...the first three years seem the toughest as it takes a tremendous amount of coming to terms with things and adjusting. We never stop missing our loved one, but eventually, with help, we can learn to continue and adjust and cope.

I don't know enough about your present relationship to know of it's lasting qualities, but I do know it helps tremendously if those we are closest to are supportive. Most of us who have been through grief have learned to surround ourselves with people who are positive in our lives and weed out the negativity, at least limiting our contact with them if we cannot avoid them totally. We must protect ourselves and be kind to ourselves first and foremost.

Your outburst shows you have anger and that is understandable. Of course you feel angry, you lost your brother!

There are also support groups for those who have lost family members and it might be of help to you to try one of those as well.

Do something healthy and positive for you today...call and make an appt. with a grief counselor and once you've met with him/her, ask if they feel it'd be helpful to you to attend a support group.

Good luck to you, and feel free to post here any time, there's nearly always someone here to read and respond.

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