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Topics - clc100

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Sibling Loss / 5 months
« on: November 30, 2009, 05:43:30 PM »
It's 5 months today since my brother passed away. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday. I can't believe a whole season has passed. I keep referring to it as still summer because this has just been one extended hell in many respects.

I'm so angry. I was so sad for so long and now I'm just angry. I know enough to know I am very depressed. I'm in therapy. I am on medication. None of it is enough right now. I feel like I am ruining my son's childhood because I am so depressed it's hard to not be angry or manage my emotions.

The day before Thanksgiving, I had a thought and I heard my brother answer it. I heard his voice, his annoyance with my pig-headedness.  He never wanted any of this for me. For any of us. And yet, we are so deep in it. I don't know how to get out.

Sibling Loss / Preparing for the Holidays
« on: November 03, 2009, 06:02:05 PM »
We just endured the 4 month anniversary of my brothers death this past Friday (Oct. 30). The grief is still overwhelming at times but I have come out of the general haze that I was in for the first 3 months. But I still find myself crying daily, usually in the car, especially hearing music from the 70's, which will forever remind me of my brother.

I am struggling with what I know will be an overwhelming grief on Thanksgiving. My brother almost didn't even celebrate holidays but Thanksgiving was his day. I don't know how I will manage on that day. I almost want to disappear completely for the day but I feel I have to be there for the rest of my family since there is a collective dread.

Does anyone have any experience with how they handled those 1st holidays?

Recommended Grief Books / The Empty Room (Death of a Sibling)
« on: September 25, 2009, 05:11:29 PM »
This book by Elizabeth Devita-Raeburn, focuses on the grief specific to those who have lost a sibling at any stage in life. The author lost her 17 year old brother (who was the basis of the movie The Boy in the Bubble) when she was 14.

This book is not only her personal journey through grief but a compilation of interviews with many people who have lost siblings throughout the life span. She also addresses the social norms associated with grief and sibling loss and why siblings need to realize they have a right to grieve deeply.

My favorite quote from the book is in reference to a 77 year old man who lost his older sister 5 years earlier. As he tries to explain the void, Devita-Reyburn writes "What he was saying was , how do you describe the way someone fit into your life, if they have always been a part of it?" Having recently lost my brother, this one line summed up every emotion I have felt since the day he died.

Sibling Loss / dealing with loss of brother
« on: August 26, 2009, 06:29:51 PM »
I lost my brother on June 30, 4 days after his 50th birthday. While it is was unexpected, his health had been in serious decline for the last 1 1/2 years. He was overweight, a smoker with severe sleep apnea. In April of this year, he was hospitalized for 12 days with multiple systems failures - may have started as a kidney rupture but his blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and heart rate were all over the place. He was in ICU most of the time, with various specialists treating him and none of them appearing to be communicating.

My sisters and I took turns sitting with him, making sure he kept his oxygen mask on because he was so combative, going in and out of consciousness, he kept tearing it off and they had restrained him at one point.

One afternoon the respiratory therapist came in and began to tell me a story about her own brother who she said reminded her of my brother. She told me about his battle with COPD and apnea and how he died. And she told me that I wouldn't want that for my brother, that this was not quality of life. And it was in that moment that I first realized that my brother may never get better. For so long I had waited for him to have his A-HA moment - realize that saying he wanted to change and actually taking the steps were 2 different things. And now maybe that wasn't an option. A little while later, the cardiologist came in and when I asked him to tell me what was going on, he assured me that his heart was the least of his problems but that I need to prepare myself for the fact that he was very sick. But again..noone seemed to know what that "sick" was.

I made the decision to not tell my family what had been said to me. I didn't even tell my brother. And the next day, after I mentally prepared myself to spend the day making sure he kept the oxygen mask on in order to avoid him being intubated, I walked in to ICU and my brother was sitting up in bed. Like nothing was wrong. He downplayed the whole incident. And he spent about another week in the hospital waiting for someone to tell him what was really wrong. And no one ever did. Yeah - a psycho general practitioner who was covering his actual doctors rounds came in on the 2nd to last day actually yelling with a long list of possible scenarios after my brother made a call to his doctor and said no one was giving him info. And then she discharged him a day later. He was very depressed and very sick. A visiting nurse came for a few weeks and slowly he went back to his life. He did quit smoking and really perked up. 

Over the last few weeks of his life, he appeared visibly happier. He was upbeat in a way I hadn't really ever seen unless he had a couple drinks in him. He stopped by my house unexpectedly one day and we talked about his worries about my mom getting older. We talked about how close we had all stayed over the years (6 kids) but that it wasn't always healthy. It wasn't a long conversation but it stuck with me. I called him on his birthday but I didn't hear back from him. 2 days later, I saw him at my mothers. We had dinner a a birthday cake and he was so happy and upbeat, it was a little freaky. He was so proud of the fact that he had gone 55+ days without smoking. His breathing sounded a little labored. I asked him about it and him assured me he was fine. I didn't push it because no one ever won an argument with my brother.

2 days later he died. He collapsed in his neighborhood bar bathroom, a few minutes after walking in the door. His autopsy revealed a heart 3 times larger than the average human heart. There was a long list of contributing factors but it doesn't even matter at this point. My brother is dead and I'm devastated. My mother is devastated. My brother and sisters are devastated.

My biggest fear is that somehow this story will end. I mean right now, there's still more to tell. Explaining how I told my son. How I wrote an obituary. How I wrote a memorial tribute to him. How his friends came together. But I'm so afraid that one day there will be nothing left to say.


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