Thinking About Grief

I am, and let’s just start by saying this because it should be said from the beginning, absolutely terrible at keeping blogs.  Absolutely terrible.  There, forewarned is forearmed.

My brother died almost two and a half years ago.  The event has completely reshaped my life.  Luke is on my mind now all the time; he is the first thought when I wake up, the last thought before I sleep.  I feel constantly compelled to tell people around me that I haven’t forgotten him.  It’s like I’m afraid of their judgement: if I don’t remind them that Luke’s loss is still prevalent, they will think I’m selfish and wrapped completely in the progression of my own life.  But I can’t talk about him too much, because the flip side of that coin is that people might then think I’m not dealing with my grief, that my mental health might not be what it should.

The truth is that these are silly things to think, to be afraid of.  The only person that’s worried about it is me, and I suspect that it’s yet another facet of the grieving process.  I’m doing as well as I can with it.  They tell you that every person grieves differently, but you’ll never know how true that is until you yourself are grieving.  It is, unfortunately, the worst time to find out, and the only time you can.

I still cry a lot.  So do my parents.  My father will talk to me about it for hours in the middle of the night, but hardly talks to my mum about it at all.  I don’t say much when he opens up.  Dad just needs to say it out loud.  On the other hand, my mother and I have very powerful but very brief conversations about Luke, both of us taking turns listening.  The problem is that it is still shockingly, achingly painful.  When I talk to my mum or listen to my dad, it is like an ice-cold fist closing around my heart.  It is just as painful as those first few days.  My chest doesn’t work right, and my heart aches.  They don’t tell you that after two years, it will still feel this way.

But then again, after a year has passed, a lot of people don’t talk about grief.  It’s awkward — the friends who are not grieving do not want to inadvertantly cause pain or bring up solemn memories.  And the grievers, the people like me, don’t know if they want to tell all the stories they can remember or just muscle on silently, hording their memories.  Or at least, that’s how I feel.  I’m not sure how much, how often, or if I should share Luke with anyone.

The years don’t make telling people who don’t know any easier, either.  In fact, in my case, getting the words out is almost harder.  And how do you say it?  Quickly, a burst of the truth, not to be dwelt upon?  Solemnly?  With the immediate assurance that you are glad you had the time that you did?  I always immediately want to tell people it’s okay when they apologize for not knowing.  But the thing is, it’s not okay.  It will never be okay again.  He was 22 years old.  There is nothing okay about death.  It might be natural, and of course none of us will get out alive, but it’s not okay.

I have, and am eternally grateful for, found a man that understands what I’m going through.  My boyfriend Mike lost his mother as a boy, and knows that sometimes if I get quiet, or if I silently insist on a hug, that I am missing my baby brother.  How could I not miss him?  Luke loved life and people like no one else I ever met, and his loss is still a giant hole in my chest.

Mike knows.  He doesn’t try to talk about how Luke is still with us, somehow, or that he’s watching over me.  Instead, Mike carefully pulls me to his chest, and tells me it’s okay to still be grieving.

And if someone is reading this and is also grieving, I don’t care how long it’s been: a day, a month, or fifteen years.  It’s okay to still be grieving.  It’s something I’m still trying to learn myself, but it needs to be said and said again.

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74 thoughts on “Thinking About Grief

  1. This is wonderful. I am grieving my father now, and it’s very fresh…only 5 months. But I understand how you feel. I am not sure if people will think I haven’t “moved on” if my grief is right out there on my sleeve. And my best friend died 26 years ago. Most of the time I don’t think of him, but then out of the blue the grief slams me in the heart and I’m 17 again. Grief is the strangest emotion. Big hugs to you and thanks for posting this.

  2. I see how much you love your brother, and I bet that is very precious to him. Let your grieving process take its course, but just imagine what he wants of you now, and do it. It is the moments that make you love him so much, so prolong those moments to help you just smile a bit 🙂 Thanks for sharing your love, I’m very glad you did…

  3. This is beautiful. My grandmother died about 3 years ago and I am still grieving. I have never seen it as a negative thing. I find that avoiding such emotions is what is bad. So thank you for posting this it helps a lot to know that somebody else knows that it’s ok to grieve.

  4. Pingback: Can We Put a Band-Aid on Grief with Love? | Loving Without Boundaries

  5. Beautifully written and somehow I stumbled upon this today, 2 months to the day that my Mom died. Just writing those words is so painful, I think I’m still in shock as it was completely out of nowhere. I know I will grieve her loss for the rest of my life, it’s just very raw right now. Reading your words gave me some sort of comfort, thank you for sharing your loss, although it’s the worst club to be a member of, it helps a little knowing I’m not alone in this grieving process. Hugs xo

  6. May I offer my deepest sympathies on losing your precious brother. Losing someone you love is so, so hard and I really don’t think there’s any easy way through it. My boyfriend died from cancer when I was in my early twenties and that’s over 30 years ago now. The first time I really found relief from the pain was when I met someone who was prepared to walk every step of the way with me and who didn’t preach or tell me how I should feel. That was only in the last few years. I think empathy rather than time is what matters most ~ or at least, that’s what matters most for me.
    Yes, grieving is more than okay ~ it hurts and some are more fortunate than others in finding a true friend who cares enough to understand. Know you aren’t alone!

  7. I am very sorry for your loss. My grandmother died 11 months ago and I think about her every day. I don’t think I will ever stop missing her. I enjoyed reading your words about your brother. You are not alone.

  8. Thanks so much for letting out all that you feel in your painful loss of your brother. It helps others to know that it is ‘ok’ and not ‘wrong’ to grieve. In this modern technologically advanced world where people commonly live twice as long as our ancestors did just a couple hundred years ago, we do not experience grief over the death of a beloved friend or family member until many of us are in our late twenties or older. I think it is very important to mourn losses and ‘do your grief work’ as it must be done in order to move forward in a healthy way. Those people who would bottle it up, stuff it down inside are denying the reality and pain of a loss which can affect mental and physical well-being. When I think of how much I miss my father, I cannot help but cry. He has been gone 3 years now and it has been a profound personal loss. I know that it helps me to ‘feel’ and release this sadness when it overtakes me…it is a coping mechanism which keeps me grounded, and keeps his memory alive daily for me. If I were to attempt to deny this sadness, I might very well succumb to the angry, vengeful person I could’ve been…because his death was caused by a criminal. I often wonder about psychopathic-sociopathic people you read about, the ones that shoot up malls and schools, go ‘postal’ on their co-workers, kill their parents or children: are they monsters or perhaps people who were never allowed or shown how to constructively react to disappointments, losses, or deaths in their formative years? I think the key can be found in being allowed or permitted to grieve and being taught appropriate coping methods. Parents need to be good examples for their children in this aspect, as they should in other important areas of raising a well-rounded, emotionally grounded child. This world seems to be moving faster and faster…we need to take the time to be models for our kids.

  9. I am very new to the blog world. To be honest, losing my father 9 months ago has been incredibly tough. Yet It has been the way of my family to just get on with it. I believe it is right to do so. It is also right to indulge in the pain and memories when ever the moment strikes. Nothing can prepare you for grief,as you well know. Its like the ocean, you have the calm and peaceful days and others were its just torrids of emotions that wash over you from no where. Clashing you with pain and tears.

    The reason why I bring that I am new to the blog world is essentially down to the factors, that I have unconsciously been sourcing ways to deal with the grief. I have not set up my blog to help me deal with it, far from it. Yet through my blogging I have stumbled across blogs which have helped me realise that others are going through it too. It is sometimes very consoling to see that we all need to talk about it and learn from others experiences. Yes we all experience grief at some stage of our lives, but not everyone in out environment are likely to even have a glimmer of understanding until it happens to them.

    I wish you all the strength in the world to power through the moments of pain and to smile fondly upon the memories of joy.

    p.s. Read “Proof of Heaven” By Dr Eben Alexander. As much as I never had a fear about what happens to our soul, this book has gave me new interpretation.

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