Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Happy birthday, bro. I miss you.

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Gentle reader, if you are more consistent at reading this than I am at writing it you may recall that October is Poe month in our house. While we read at least one new story each year, we always read “The Raven”. It is one of my most beloved pieces of literature ever.


John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven


You may also know that I am a firm believer in Rosenblatt’s concept about the reader and text. Each time a reader engages in the dance of reading with a text the two create a unique poem. When you read first read a book you make one poem. When you read it again, later in life, with new experiences, you make a new poem.

Tonight’s reading of “The Raven” proved that true again for me. The loss I have experienced since last October brought out new, dark, deeper layers in the poem than I have ever experienced. Since last October the relationships with my mother and sister have become estranged (to put it politely). Then I lost my brother to suicide. He and I had just reconnected a little under two years prior. I wasn’t done getting to know him again. My sons weren’t done getting to know their uncle. My husband wasn’t done getting to know the brother-in-law he had always wanted to meet. With the death of my beloved Bear two years prior, the entire family of my childhood living experience, the household, was gone. Both Bear and Bro were taken in such sudden ways that the shock has yet to wear off. I am still looking for readings or such that talk about grieving a suicide in a way that is helpful for me. I know I am not the only one who lost Bro, and that I wasn’t the closest, but I do grieve what could have been and what I stupidly missed out on for so many years.

And so while I continue my quest for the suicide grief handbook, I found that “The Raven” gave me an outlet for my grief that I would never have expected. I could barely read it. I cried throughout. I fooled myself for years that I understood the poem. That I grasped the grief and sadness.

Tonight I finally began to understand the poem. Particularly the last stanza.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted–nevermore!

Oh, I do hope my soul is lifted out of the shadow that lingers over it. I hope the grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore leaves me, alas I know it will not be forevermore. But at least for a while.

We’ll have to read a different Poe story tomorrow night.



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Since my brother’s death I haven’t really wanted to know anyone better. It’s not the right choice, but it’s the right choice right now. A lot has changed in my life since Bear died. So much good stuff has happened, and I do celebrate all of that. But there is sadness, there is grief.

So when my brother died too, again unexpectedly, it was just such a hard blow. Grief books talk about all kinds of grief, but not grief from a suicide. I suppose when I am ready I’ll remember that there’s a world wide web out there and find materials about that. But I’m back to denial and am content to sit there for a bit. It’s better than playing the “what if” game, which nobody wins.

My cousin gave me a lamp that belonged to our grandmother. A friend just finished repairing it. I am excited to hang it in my room and have a visual reminder of so much good in my life. 

I thought again the other day that I wish I didn’t think about stuff as much as I do. But clearly that isn’t changing. I need to carve out time each day to process it. Perhaps letting myself think about the “stuff” a little each day will help alleviate the days when it becomes all encompassing. I’d rather be living, doing things, than sitting and thinking. 

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My experience with extended family ended in my early teens. Around 1982 was the last time I spent time with aunts, uncles, and cousins at a family holiday thing. I spent a few weeks with an uncle and his wife in ’85 or ’86, but I was miserable. Plus their kids were little, I was a teenager.

So I never got the whole cousin experience. When I hear people talk about the close bond, the fond memories, the shared times with cousins, I usually zone out a bit. I just have nothing to relate it to, nor do I have any stories to contribute. 

Hubby’s nieces and nephews really wanted cousins. We gave them two, and there is love between them. There’s also 25+ years between them, so not a lot in common. It didn’t give me much pause, I didn’t grow up with that whole cousin phenomenon either. But Hubby did.

Now I have my cousins back. And some of them have kids, closer in age to my boys. We finally get to have that cousin experience. We’re going to try to go up to Maine later this year to visit family up there and the boys asked if their cousins would be there. How cool is that?

The other day my one cousin messaged me about something she was watching on TV. Again, how cool is that? I was able to explain that the green mascot thing was the Philly Phanatic and then we discussed how the Baby Cakes Baby mascot could kick the muppety Phanatic’s ass.

We talk on the phone…just because. How amazing is this? I get it now.

And I have aunts and uncles again! And they love me, they love my family. They are there for my dad, and it’s so great to see that. They are there for me. And I am there for them.

They waited 28 years for me to reconnect with my dad. 28 years. And my brother did it. Thanks to my brother, I know my little brother. Okay, he’s taller than me, but who isn’t?

And the love is unconditional. There’s no resentment. No reservations. Just love.

I am blessed. And I am thanking my brother, as I did when he brought us all back together, even now as I am missing him. And through my brother’s perseverance, I have aunts, and uncles, and cousins, oh my, helping me as I grieve losing him.

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I miss him. That’s the long & the short of it. It’s a better place than I’ve been. I’ve been angry. Sad. Resentful. In denial. Regretful.

I’m still angry at church & God. I finally made it through an entire service last Sunday and that was only because my sons were holding me up, along with the Spirit. I had my phone completely silenced on that day almost four months ago because I was at church. I didn’t see the text till about an hour later. I’m making myself leave my phone in the dining room. That’s where I always put it at night. But, confession, I’ve taken to leaving it on vibrate now at church. I know, closing the barn door too late.

And it wouldn’t have changed anything. Only would have added an hour of grief. But still. And the Spirit is patient. Will hold me up till I’m ready.

There were so many things my bro & I talked about doing, making up for lost time. There are so many familial wounds this has opened that sometimes I just sit and cry. And when I stop crying, I just sit, numb, unable to form a thought because I don’t know how to sort this much pain out. So I bury it down, get through my day.

I focus on my sons. I focus on my dog. I focus on the cats, when they let me. I lean heavily on Hubby, who is so patient and understanding. He knew from the get-go what he was signing up for and I haven’t disappointed yet.

I laughed, really laughed, for the first time last week or so. The dress scene in Bridesmaids, which I finally watched. Of course that same week, one of my supervisors walked by during one of those crying situations, the one when I can’t even form a word. I get paid for working with words. Not a good thing for your boss to witness, being completely incapacitated from forming a sentence.

This is one of the sentences I recently managed to form about my grief.

While it is not all through death, I have no one from my late childhood/teenage family left. In the span of eighteen months.

I know I have gained so much family back and I am blessed with that. I love them all so much. 

But there is still a lot of loss to work through. I wish I could be glib. Just say screw it, at least about some of it. Not my bro. Not Bearpaw. But to be glib would lessen what I have gained. That would demonstrate a major change in who I am. Then I wouldn’t deserve the future happiness with the family I’ve reconnected with. It would not mean the same.

I also want to learn from all of this. I want to be a strong, compassionate mother who loves her sons unconditionally. I want to love true & unconditionally in all of my relationships. So there are lessons to be learned.

But right now, as I pretend to sleep until I finally pass out for a few hours, as I have every night for almost four months, I simply miss my bro. I still had his message from last year’s Mother’s Day on my cell. I listened to it last week. Clearly never erasing that. It was nice to hear his voice, filled with love.

I miss my bro.

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My pastor gave me a book about grieving. I like the approach so far. It said in very plain language that when you suffer loss, it brings back to light previous losses attached to the recent loss.

That was a mouthful.

In losing my brother, it brought to light, in a bright glaring, white spotlight, so many losses over the past three decades. Some are very tiny, others are huge. They have impacted my entire adult life, the way I approach and work on my marriage, the way I raise my sons, the way I try to be the person I want to be.

Sometimes I’m tired of trying to be the person I think I should be. I see so many who just seem to glide through life, or others who really don’t seem, from my perspective, to be giving their all, or doing things as honestly or as ethically as could be done, and I sit and throw myself a little pity party. Then I pick myself up and remind myself that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I did things any other way in my life.

Of course, I’m not sleeping well at the moment anyway, so I guess now would be the time to not follow the straight and narrow. I wonder how others do it. Make choices, knowing the bad ramifications it will have on others, and yet they still make those choices. Everyone knows someone like this. Every family has at least one person who is a bull in a china shop, not caring what damage is created as long as things go the way they want.

But the problem there is that damage is done. The person who suffers the damage may take years to recover from it, whether it be emotional, physical, or financial damage. And the person who caused it often seems to be living a glorious life, with minimal worry, or in some cases there is worry, but truly it was created by their own actions. That to me is just melodramatic worrying and they are reaping what they sowed. Sleeping in the bed they made. All those other clichés.

So since I try to bury so much during the day so coworkers don’t think I’m a total freak, it bubbles to the surface at night. Actually, on the commute to and from work. It just rises up to the front of my brain, and the emotions overwhelm me and I cry. Ugly cry. I was ugly crying in my cube today. Just this overwhelming sensation of what have I done? What is causing this shit-storm in my life? When will something go a little bit better? Some sign of the winds of change, and not another nor’easter. I’ve had enough emotional nor’easters this year. And losing my brother has stirred up so many squalls I don’t know what to do with them.

I’m journaling. Part of the reason the posts have been so lax. There has been shit going down since November. Then losing him two months ago just intensified the existing situations. In one sense, it gave perspective. I do not care nor do I have time to play those bullshit drama games, but in grieving him, I grieve the loss of others who are still living, but have stated how my choices will cause me to burn in hell.

It’s odd. The ones who are still living, I don’t miss them. Perhaps because they always want to remind me that I’m going to burn.

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These last two weeks before the anniversary of Bear’s death feel much like the first two weeks after his death in that horrific car accident. Once again, the image of Bear when I identified his body haunts my days and nights. The memories of planning his service, communicating with the funeral home, cleaning out his car, comforting the boys-they are swirling in my head, seemingly 24 hours a day right now. Emotions about decisions beyond my control are swelling up inside of me all over again.

I’ve driven through the accident site several times now in my travels, and on the 16th I will drive through it twice. After the second time, we will continue to the cemetery to pay Bear a visit, tell him we love him and miss him. Leave some carnations for him to look down on and smile at.

I don’t imagine that life will resume normalcy without Bear on July 17th, having worked my way through the first year. I’m fully aware that life is forevermore different. I know he wants me to be happy, to not spend time missing him, but loving those around me. And I am working on letting go to do that more fully.

I lost a lot when Bear died, more than meets the eye. My family of origins’s dynamic went through quite a metamorphosis.

But…I have a deeper appreciation for my friends who are my family, for extended family. I have had reunions in the past year that I never thought would happen and have more reunions to look forward to in the coming months. I’ve made peace with many aspects of my personal history. I am exploring my early childhood that I had tucked away. While I do have many difficulties in remembering much from then because of the schizophrenia, it is neat to hear stories. Not that schizophrenia causes memory loss, I just didn’t pay attention to everything as well because of the delusions and hallucinations. It’s cool having gaps filled in.

Hubby, Sons, and I will be visiting New Orleans soon. I haven’t been there since the 70’s when my family moved from my hometown. I’m taking risks that I wouldn’t have before because each day is so precious and why spend each day tired, drained, frustrated? I come home from work now and I have energy to spare. I yell less (although the boys would disagree after the past few days, hence why I’m blogging first thing after work, to clear my head). Little projects around the house are finally being finished, some were started three or four years ago, others I just started because I finally finished the old ones!

It still hurts, I still miss Bear dearly, I still want one more hug from him. Still, I am learning how to tuck that away in my heart and to focus on my many blessings. To let go of things I cannot control. To set boundaries to end useless, painful cycles. To focus on the love surrounding me in so many ways. To be open and ready for the way family and friends show up when you didn’t even know how much you needed them.


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Today I was drowning in a tsunami of grief and sorrow. I cried throughout the day, at times worried that people on the other side of my cube would hear.  I managed okay in my meeting because I let the others do the talking, with me just piping in with questions to move the conversation in a new direction or to delve deeper into the topic at hand.

Inside I was asking how 366 days could have passed? June 20, 2015 was the last day we saw Bear. Then the boys were off to camp weeks and such. The next time I thought I would see him was at the end of July for Younger Son’s birthday. Instead I identified his body at the trauma center.

Those images are burned in brain and haunt my nightmares still, but a year ago today we were with Bear. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few thousands words on the happiness and love that filled that day.

IMG_0673      IMG_0729


On  July 16 I will have lived a year without my beloved Bear. While the sadness and grief continues to be overwhelming at times, it has already been a year filled with great blessings and many happy times. My hope is that the saying about a house holds true even a little bit for grief. You have to live in it for a year to know what it’s like in every season. Then I can start making repairs to my heart.

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