I’ve been wanting to share my experience of the grieving process with others ever since I lost my brother. I haven’t quite known how to begin or what to share.
I was triggered and shocked by the devastating loss of a friends recent death of her mother and grandmother. Their lives were ended in the most brutal way. They were murdered in their home by intruders in broad daylight. Her gran was 91 in a wheelchair and her mom 70. They posed no threat to anyone and were gentle kind souls.
My heart aches for my friend and her sister, who at five months pregnant, discovered both bodies.
My first question is what has happened to our humanity?
The next question is how does my friend find peace with this type of death?
One really has to be a saint to forgive this senseless type of cruelty.
Losing my brother has given me a new level of sympathy for those who have lost loved ones.
I have also come to realize how many of us have been affected by the death of loved ones. In our society this type of loss is not always spoken about.
One has the funeral a short period of mourning and then you are expected to go on with your daily business and push the grief aside- so you can be a fully functioning member of a productive society.
But how can one go about ones daily life with the kind of trauma my friend has just experienced?
She comes from a rich Greek culture and I remember, as children her mom always wore black as she was mourning her own father.
I’m not sure how long this custom was observed for, but in my childhood imagination it was seven years.
When my own brother died and I was pulled back into work 10 days later and had to move on with life. I wished that I could have worn a black shroud separating me from others and allowing me to cocoon in the grieving process.
As my friend enters the traditional 40 day mourning cycle I hope that the ancient rituals that help with grief bring peace to her and her family.
I hope that there is a gentleness from all those that she works with each day, and they allow her to express and grieve and also retreat and hide and cry until her heart feels like it will crack wide open. I hope that society is kind enough to not expect her to functional optimally for some time.
I hope that she gets to wear black and cocoon for as long as it takes for the pain to become bearable.
I celebrated what would have been my brothers 39th birthday yesterday. He died at age 37. My friends most traumatic day of her life happened the day before his birthday. The two will forever remain intertwined for me going forth.
The senseless tragedy and the celebration of a life taken too soon.
My heart aches today.
It’s the exact same spot that they pulled his limp body out the water and left his body for 5 hours- covered with a space blanket, while we sat besides it and tried to make sense of the fact that his body no longer contained a living soul.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking out over this view and trying to find peace in his death. My brother drowned in this tidal pool on the 5th of November 2015. Nothing has been the same since I heard the words “he is dead”.
The pure shock and trauma of coming to terms with the unexpected loss of a loved one is very hard to describe.
But for this view and this spot I am very grateful. He died in one of the most beautiful places on earth and he left us this spot as his place of death.
In the moments just after he died I couldn’t understand why the world kept turning. I really wanted everything to stop. How could life continue normally when it was no longer normal. Auden’s “stop all the clocks” kept ringing in my ears.
The mortuary van took 5 hours to come and collect his body. In those 5 hours the beach was cordoned off, the sky was overcast, the tidal pool was still and grey. We had the chance to sit besides what was left of a once living being and experience raw grief.
The words “this can’t be real” kept coming out of my mouth. It didn’t feel real and in some ways it still doesn’t. My mom used the words incomprehensible. That’s what it was.
In retrospect my sister in law and I are grateful for those hours. For what followed was a hive of activity of friends and family and loved ones being around us and holding us up.
So I return often to the place he died. 3 weeks after he died I ventured into the waters that took his life. I sobbed and my salty tears dissolved into the ocean as I swam where his last breath left his body.
We put in a bench overlooking the tidal pool with a plaque, almost a year after he died. Sometimes I go down and see families sitting on the bench or hanging their wet swimming costumes on the back of it to dry. Some people sit alone and contemplate the view. Some take their time to read the plaque. For some it is just a bench.
And life goes on…