When they made you brother, they broke the mold

by Andy
(Portland, Oregon)

My brother, Paul, died in December of 2009 after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 44, and died on his daughter's 6th birthday. Only now am I in a place where I can begin to feel his loss and acknowledge its significance -- the significance that Paul's death has had on me, the sadness, and the realization that I need to feel his loss if I am ever to move on with my life.

Paul was 13 months older than me, and in many ways my "twin." We were the middle of four children, often lumped together as the "boys." We shared a room, wardrobe and common experiences. Although we grew up to be different people, and lived on opposite coasts, I always had a special bond with Paul. He understood me better than anyone in the world -- better than my parents, best friend and even my wife. Paul was a calming presence in my life. He was my moral compass. He was, in every ways, my "big brother."

It took my own health concerns to awaken me to my grief. Two months ago, I experienced a minor health concern that ended up being nothing. But the experience opened in me a levy of feelings. In the months since my brother's death, my response was to run -- literally. I took on a vigorous diet and exercise regime, as if this would protect me from disease. Moreover, it became a distraction from dealing with my sadness. Ironically, I ended up overdoing it, wearing myself down, and ending up in the doctor's office.

After opening to my feelings, I became anxious about my own mortality and found myself consumed by these feelings. I have been more scared than anything. I began to kind of live out the terror that I perceived my brother to have experienced in the weeks before his death.

Through meditation and prayer, however, I am coming to realize that, while a normal response, I am still distracting myself from experiencing the pain of Paul's loss. In some way, feeling anxious has been distracting me from feeling sad. I can't really run from this anymore. I can't change what happened, but I do need to experience the pain of Paul's loss. He is gone. I need to "feel" that. And this isn't going to be easy.

This submission starts that journey for me, in many ways. I am seeking help in learning how to grieve. This website has been a wonderful resource, and it's encouraging to read about others experiences and to realize that I am not losing my mind. My response is within the realm of normal. But it's also clear that I must face Paul's death, the horror of it all, and the fact that I will never be the same.

I have hope that I will move through this, as many have before me. I long to reach a place where I remember my brother with feelings of love and warmth. I want to be able to look at his picture again.

Comments for When they made you brother, they broke the mold

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Jun 07, 2010
Thanks, Anne!
by: Anonymous

Thank you, Anne. Hey, I also have a sister named Anne. I really appreciate your taking the time to write a message. Support from folks like you has really been wonderful and helped me come to acceptance of my brother's death. I sure miss him but understand that he's home now. I know that he wouldn't want me to fret about him. I am sure that your brother, John, would feel the same way.

May 23, 2010
I'm so sorry for your loss
by: Anne

I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for your loss. It is ironic that I too have a brother Paul but I lost one of my other brothers John(my eldest brother, I am the youngest of 6) also in Dec, 2009.

I can very much relate to your loss. My brother was my guardian,my friend. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family.

Take Care and Love the title, you expressed through it how I feel for my brother as well.

Anne from Toronto ON Canada

Apr 22, 2010
Thank you, Warm Connection
by: Andy

Thank you, Warm Connection, for taking the moment to respond to my post. It really means a lot to me.

Apr 15, 2010
Warm Connection
by: Down Under

Andy, my condolences on the loss of your brother Paul. Through your words I can sense the warmth and connection you had with him. I wish you all the best Andy and do not be afraid to allow the grieving to begin. It will be hard and horrible but ensure you have people around you who understand and are supportive, as it's a horrible place to be.

My father passed away in Aug 2009, 2 months before my wedding, and I have never felt such darkness and emptiness that I feel now, but I am seeking help and hope this gets me through it all. They say there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel . . . I hope so. Be strong Andy and keep your brothers' memories alive. Look at his picture and do not be afraid of the emotions that will come with that. He is watching down on you all. Take care.

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