I lost my big brother when I was 13, then 23 years later I lost my sister.

by Michele
(Saint Peters, MO)

I lost my big brother when I was 13, then 23 years later I lost my sister. Mark died when I was 13. He was a gay man, and he died of AIDS related lymphoma. It was a brain cancer that took him down a degenerative path. He died at home on April 29, 1990. He was 27 years old. I suffered a great deal of grief and heartache. I felt like no one understood my pain. My friends in school compared my loss to them losing their great-grandfather or something of the like. It had such a huge effect on me that for the many, many years that followed, my life felt like two parts: before Mark died, and after. I remember every time I heard or saw a date, I related it to how long it was before or after he died. I felt like my mom was so strong, but I wasn't. I watched how hard it hit my dad. He was never the same. It changed me forever, but in some ways for the better. My sister and I were all each other had. We didn't always see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we never let anything come between us. We always said if people knew what it was like to lose a sibling, they wouldn't let piddly stuff bother them, and they wouldn't take their siblings for granted. We had an even stronger bond in my mind, because of what we went through together. She was 12 years older than me, so she filled many roles: another mother, friend, sister, partner in crime. And on March 30, 2013, she was taken from me too. She suffered a brain hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm on March 11th. She was in a coma for two week following, and then after doctors advised us that she would not get any better, life support was removed. She lived another week, and she died in my arms at home. I held her so she wouldn't be scared. I learned that watching someone die is not necessarily peaceful. Their bodies fight it to the very last breath. I wanted desperately to hold on to her forever. But, I watched her die. She was 48 years old. Now it has been almost 6 months, and I still feel somewhat paralyzed. When I think about her, I go through so many emotions all at once. Anger, sadness, a hurt that feels like true physical pain. And since it's been a little while now, I feel like everyone else around me has just totally forgotten about it and has moved on with their lives. Why am I stuck still feeling so bad? And all of the canned answers people have that are meant to be comforting, like "She's in a better place..." are really starting to get to me. I truly appreciate thoughts and kindness, but how does anybody even know that? I know- faith... Right? And I don't want to question that too much, but bottom line- I want her back, I want the pain to go away, and I know that's impossible. And seeing her die brought up feelings of watching my brother so many years ago. What I wouldn't give for him to be here with me to help me get through this. I'm the only one left now. I can't help but feel alone sometimes, even though I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I find myself hiding my grief from them, because I don't want my kids to see me upset, and I want to be strong. I don't want them to worry. I get up every morning and go to work, continue my other family obligations too, and I put on a brave face. But really, on the inside I am shattered. And there's nothing anyone can do or say to change that.

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Sep 14, 2013
I lost my big brother when I was 13, then 23 years later I lost my sister
by: Doreen U.K.

Michele I am sorry for your loss of your brother and then your sister. Because of the huge age gap you didn't get the chance to grieve as you should. Somehow in days gone bye children were not allowed to be involved in discussions of someone close dying and so their feelings were not taken into consideration. I feel very strongly about this. The children/teenagers get forgotten. this is no one's fault. It is part of the times we lived in. Many people suffered this way. Your feeling were somehow repressed and so now your sister dying has triggered off the feelings towards losing your brother. Best thing you can do is take yourself off to see a counsellor and talk out all your feelings of losing your brother, and now your sister. You need to resolve as best as you can the grief of losing your brother and now your sister. I have done the counselling bit years ago in my 40's and I can tell you 40yrs. of depression left me and has never returned. I cope better. I lost my husband of 44yrs. to terminal cancer 16 months ago. He died a slow painful death over 3yrs. and I watched him die slowly. I saw him draw his last breath and then I went numb for a long time and then got stuck in frozen grief. I thawed out slowly and so feel my grief in small doses. It is good if you are able to work as a distraction. But find time to grieve. This will show up as a lot of crying. This is good grief so let it happen. Keep a journal and write out your feelings of your loss's and also write letters to both your brother and sister in your journal. This is another therapeutic way of getting those repressed feeling come to the surface and out of your system. A grief counsellor could assist here by starting things off. You will start the healing process. Take time out for yourself. You need to talk and get good support. Very beneficial. Don't feel afraid of crying or showing emotion. Ignore those people who say. "She is in a better place." They don't know what else to say so say the first thing that comes into their mind. A lot of people do this. Choose your confidants carefully as they could prolong your grief. The secret is TAKING ONE DAY AT A TIME. Grief has a process. If you give it time your grief will slowly get easier each day until you start to feel healing take place in you. Don't shut your husband out. Let him know how you feel and tell him you need some time to grieve. Don't share everything as many husbands don't like to see their wives suffer and may say the wrong thing. You will know your husband and who to share your feelings with. Grief will be bad now. But it won't last. You will recover from your grief and go on to live a normal life again. You will have those memories forever. I am sorry for your loss. I have 5 siblings. We don't always agree and we have fractured relationships also. This is part of life. Good if we can resolve our differences. I wish you Comfort and Peace and good support in your loss.

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