When they made you brother, they broke the mold
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.