My beloved brother passed away on February 5th. Death is overwhelming. Human language doesn’t provide words to describe the intensity of the pain caused by grief. To say mourning hurts is like calling Niagara Falls a ripple on the Niagara River. Words are not big enough.
When my daughter was little she hated helium-filled balloons—so much so that if offered one, she would vehemently refuse it. Most people assumed that she feared the loud sound it would make when it popped. Wrong. She couldn’t bear the thought of seeing it float away. She chose to live without the balloon rather than deal with the pain of losing it. I’m afraid to start living again, because the pain of loss is so great.
My loved ones provide me with much of my identity: wife, mother, daughter, ,sister-in-law, aunt, a friend. Now, there is a hole in the last sentence, a hole in my identity, and a hole in my heart. I’m not a sister anymore.
I’m trying to step forward through the anguish, but all I see is the past. The questions in my head remain unanswered because death doesn’t provide a FAQ handout. It also fails to provide instructions on how to move forward, when the fear it leaves behind is so paralyzing. Like my daughter’s dread of flying balloons, I’m terrified of another loss—namely my own.
The accidental death of my brother crashed my family’s world. Even just a glimpse of him in a picture causes my heart to pound out waves of pain. Tears are triggered each time I speak his name, but outright sobbing begins when I think about what he’ll miss. The life, death deprived him of. He’ll miss every day of his children’s lives. He won’t be there to celebrate their successes or to comfort them in times of disappointment. He’ll never meet their future spouses or beam with pride at their weddings. He’ll never look into the eyes of his grandchildren. But most of all, my brother will miss growing old with his dear wife, who truly is his other half of his soul.
I fear death because the mere thought of missing all of those things is excruciating. As I grieve the loss of my brother, I also grieve for him and all that he lost.