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MoonRise

I Really Can't Care

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My little brother, who was 4 years younger than me, passed away on October 11th, 2013. He was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 15 in 2012, and passed away 6 days before he would have turned 17. Now the one year anniversary is coming up, and I just don't care. Everyone else in my family is depressed as can be, my parents, my sisters, aunts and uncles. But I just simply cannot be bothered to care. I feel so heartless and cold for it, but it jus is not affecting me like it is everyone around me.

Anyone who had seen my brother the months leading up to his death would have been as glad as I was to see him go, so I think. The brain tumors were taking away his muscle functions. He couldn't walk or use the bathroom without assistance. In the final week, his throat muscles stopped working. He couldn't eat his food without litterally choking it down. Finally, he fell into a coma for a week, only waking up to have siezures. We played music for him, and he would squeeze our hands. It was rough. My older sisters (both in their 30's) became very snippish. Yelling at me for leaving the room when he would start to choke on his saliva, or go into a painful siezure. I dropped out of college for the semester, was released from work for 2 weeks.

I cried the day he died. But that was it. I didn't cry at his wake, even after seeing well over 500 people attend to see my brother off. I didn't cry when they put him in the ground either. I just focused on holding my mother. I've visited his grave a dozen times over the last year, stopping to cry and then wander the cemetary for a few hours. Dressing it up for Halloween (it was his favorite holiday).

But now the one year anniversary is coming up. My family is planning a huge get-together to celebrate his life. A large dinner party, and then a trip to the beach to release paper lanterns. But I don't really care. I don't want to go. I have to work the night before and that night (I work a 3rd shift job, 10 PM to 7 AM). I don't want to go and watch a whole bunch of people crying. A few months ago the town we live in dedicated and named the park across our street to my little brother, because he use to play there all the time. It was very touching. But I didn't want to go to the town meeting. One of my older sisters went, and chewed me out big time for not showing up. Both my parents were upset and disapointed in me because of it. I'm 21, don't I have a right to choose what to do with my free time?

So, in short, I feel guilty that I don't care about my brothers death anniversary comeing up. But I will just have to deal with being forced to go to the "celebrations". Is there something wrong with me?

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Dear Moonrise,

I am sorry you have been through so much and that your young brother was so sick and then died. It sounds like there has been a great deal of family turmoil that has, in part, been focused on you. Having family members get angry during those difficult times certainly has not made it easier for you to grieve. We all grieve differently. And we all deal with loss differently and it sounds like your family has had a difficult time with the way you grieve. This is common and only makes the journey more challenging. You say you have been to the cemetery a dozen times, stopping to cry and then wander about there for a "few hours". That tells me there are many feelings you have about your brother and his death including caring deeply. It seems that perhaps the problem exists in family relationships and you choose to grieve alone at the cemetery. You have chosen a safe place here to share all those feelings. No one here will criticize you. Because you are doing this journey through loss and grief alone, you might consider talking to a grief counselor-where you can be you and share your pain. You can also do that here

You write that you feel guilty that you "don't care" about your brother's death anniversary but will attend because you feel forced to go. Everyone handles grief differently as I said and that does not mean there is something wrong with you. It does seem that it might help to discuss your family differences here and working through your pain with a grief counselor could lead to some resolution of some of these feelings. Family tension is not uncommon at times of loss and losing a child and sibling, as your family has done, is difficult for everyone and anger is a common reaction when everyone feels so vulnerable. I do hope you come back here where you can find some comfort and support. This is a safe place for those feelings.

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I am sorry your brother had to go through so much, it sounds like you have felt some relief at his being out of his misery, which is very understandable under the circumstances. My mom just passed from Dementia, and having watched her suffer at the end of her life, I was relieved she was free from all that too.

We all grieve differently and it'd be ideal if everyone could recognize that and allow for those differences. However, families can be sensitive and have their expectations and sometimes it helps to choose our battles and go along with some things while standing up for our rights on other things...this may be one of those times you'll want to attend the what they have planned for the anniversary of your brother's death, just to keep from alienating them. Mary is right, here no one will judge you no matter how you choose to handle this, we've all been through grief time and again and we understand. This is a good place to vent your feelings, frustrations, etc.

Have you seen a grief counselor? It might be a good idea. Sometimes we ARE grieving and aren't aware of it, esp. since it comes out differently in all of us. Some of your feelings towards your family may be part of that grief response.

My heart goes to you as you muddle through this, I know it's not fun. I hope you will continue to come here for support.

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I just feel like I've moved on. Of course I miss him, but I don't let it make me depressed. Mum has been sleeping almost all day today. I hate seeing her like this. I went to therepy for a while before my brother died. It was alright, but I don't feel like it will help much. I'm sad, I know I'm sad, and I know that I am going to be sad on and off for the rest of my life. What more can a grief couselor do for me other than listen and tell me "yeah, you're sad". Thank you both for being so inviting. It means a lot to me.

I guess I really, truely steeled myself to the reality of everything when my manager at work told me that I had to suck it up and deal with it when I was at work. She told me my productivity was becoming to slow (which non of my co workers agreed with), and that my depression would soon be cause for possible write ups or termination. So I sucked it all up and just...stopped feeling I guess. Sometimes I get upset when I think about him, but for the most part I'm fine. I should have brought that issue to upper management probably, but I felt backed into a corner. Maybe that is why I'm having such a problem feeling "emotionally constipated"

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Dear Moonrise,

I am glad you saw a counselor for a while. Work situations can be challenging when it comes to grief. Most companies do not acknowledge how far reaching grief is and that it certainly goes to work with us. It is possible for those who grieve to hold themselves together most of the time at work if they are allowing themselves to feel their sadness and pain and share it with someone at other times during the day and evening.

You said you sucked it all up and stopped feeling and that you are fine for the most part and that you feel "emotionally constipated". Those feelings speak of some confusion about your feelings and I wonder if you are open to reading some articles on grief that may help you understand what is happening. This article ( http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/08/grief-understanding-process.html ) AND the links to more at the bottom of the page might help you to better understand the grief process and may also help your mother. Losing a child is one of the toughest losses a parent can experience. I sense you might be concerned about your mom, not sure. http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/06/mother-struggles-to-accept-death-of-her.html Here is another link and more at the bottom of that page.

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It is possible to cut ourselves off from grief (denial) to the extent that someday when we're falling apart we suddenly find we haven't grieved and dealt with our grief work and it's still there staring us in the face and rendering our lives impotent. I wouldn't want that to happen to you. It's important to allow ourselves to feel our grief, even if we have to compartmentalize to be able to function at work, we can do our grief work in "off hours". I hope that supervisor never finds themselves in the situation where they lose someone close and have to go to work and "suck it up" or lose their job...not a fun place to be in! I'm sorry they aren't more understanding at work.

A grief counselor can pick up on things that we might deny to ourselves and best know how to bring it out and help us deal with it so we can heal and live our lives to the fullest we can. Mary (mfh) is a grief counselor, as is Marty, and I think they'd agree that it's helpful to see one.

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I appreciate Kay's concern about what can happen to us when grief is postponed. You may find this man's story to be of interest: Voices of Experience: Delayed Grief

I think it also helps to know that it is within our power to set aside a more appropriate time to "give in" to our grief reactions ~ in a place that is apart from the work setting where we're expected to "keep it together." See, for example, Finding Crying Time In Grief

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I remember his posts so well, I've thought about him from time to time and wondered how he's doing now. I appreciated his sharing with us what can happen when we push our grief to the back burner.

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I watched my brother, John, suffer through colon cancer, liver cancer about 3 times, bone cancer and brain cancer. He went through hell. I am so very sorry he had to go through all of this but it was best for him that he passed away. I miss him so much and talk to him at night but the pain and surgeries he went through were terrible. He never complained. The will to live is so strong. Thank God, the night he died, was in his sleep.

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Dear Moonrise and Deb, I too lost my younger brother (5yrs) to a long series of illnesses during his lifetime. He had pain that I thought no one should have to endure. From brain trauma due to a fall off of the top deck of his Navy ship to cancers and heart failure I was relieved that he no longer had to suffer anymore. Yes, the guilt was there for a time but I grieved for him and let it go. Our parents and even other siblings grieve in their own way. We have to do what is best for us. I too miss my brother, Kenny, and think about him often, but I am also relieved that his suffering is over. It is always so difficult when we lose a sibling. To me, they are our closest friends and ones who will always be with us throughout our lives. When we lose them it is like losing a part of ourselves.

Peace to all of us who have lost a sibling.

Anne

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