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Seven Years After Death

Tomorrow marks year seven. Seven years since I’ve seen my brother’s face, heard his laugh, and made plans for our intertwined futures. My brother was one of my biggest confidants. We grew up and did so much together. We kept secrets, got into trouble, ate lunch together, fought one another, and had sublime yelling matches. We were siblings after all.

My brother

In the local congregation I attend, one of the families lost their son. Grandparents lost a grandchild, siblings lost one of their own, and a mother and a father lost their baby; not to leave out extended family of cousins and uncles. We had a service at church this morning to grieve with our brethren who lost such a big piece of their lives. It was a singing service followed by a bible study and then a sermon on God’s love for us. It brought me to tears. The whole congregation came together as one to mourn for him.

Due to this tragedy to this family, and the looming ‘death date’ of my brother (three days later), I was a huge stinking mess. HUGE. When I learned of his death…all I could think about was their family. How much pain that they had to be in because I knew…I knew what that feels like to get an unexpected phone call that will change their lives. My stomach dropped, it felt like I carried around a huge weight at the bottom, and my bones felt lined with lead. Grief is a sneaky thing.

The past anniversaries, death and otherwise, haven’t been this bad (first anniversary excluded, I mean they were bad but not on a comparable level). Not to discount my past feelings but if I described it would be like so:

My brother’s loss in my life created a wound. A nasty ugly wound like a piece of myself was missing. Over that first year, the wound was cauterized by grief/tears/memories/laughter/counseling and then some. The wound was still there but it wasn’t as painful unless someone or something pushed against it.

So, with that, hopefully, graphic analogy in your head…imagine a knife slicing into that wound, not a bump from hitting your shin on a corner table, but your knife slipped from your hand and buried itself deep and the bleed was bad enough you went to the doctor. It felt like that. I relived the whole thing. And then guilt reared its ugly head. I felt guilty for thinking of my situation when the newly grieving family was just a few pews ahead of me. I was ashamed at my thoughts.

“Broken” by Jenny Hudson aka Little_Jen via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

I know I will lose more in my life, life is living and then everyone dies. Life is just a vapor. You don’t know how long it will last or how full it will be unless you make yourself live life to the fullest. I don’t mean you have to be reckless and participate in that YOLO lifestyle, but think about it, your family is all you have. Appreciate it. Makeup with people. Smile at that person in the grocery store. Give your sibling a hug. Kiss your mom on the cheek. You may not get the chance to do it again. Don’t be petty. Just ‘let it go.’ Haha. I can’t say that without singing like Elsa. Regardless if it means something totally different. I feel like a broken record right now.

I have to have hope in myself and in God and remember to pray. I say that after I spent the last two days crying off and on, not sleeping, not eating, sending Instagram messages to the newly bereaved, and binge-watching Netflix and books. My grief is messy and non-consistent. I am sad. I am so happy that the boy who passed away was a Christian and I and his family have a chance to see him again. I don’t know my brother’s fate. It makes me sad and grief-stricken but I pray for others to not go down the same road.

I know this doesn’t explain much or really help anyone but me write this down, but if you are grieving and need help. Find it. There are many counselors spiritual and otherwise. Contact me. I’ll talk to you. I was 23 years old when my brother died. He was 18.

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