Lessons From the Worst Day Of My Life

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It was my wedding day.

I found myself standing outside the doors to the chapel. My heart was racing. Pressure began building inside and I felt my eyes fill up with tears.

I can’t do this.

Before I could turn and run, the doors were flung open. I was caught off guard as 80 expectant faces turned to look at me. I scanned the crowd….  I saw my family and friends…. I saw my Dad and Stepfather waiting in front of the alter to give me away.

But I was going to have to walk down the aisle alone.

And that’s not how it was supposed to be.

I don’t know how long I paused there. I felt like I couldn’t move.

Then my eyes found Joe. And right next to him a single candle burning on a tall candelabra. Gulp. I looked back at Joe and knew that if I could make it to him that I would be o.k.

I took a tentative step. I felt as if my knees were going to buckle. I took a deep breath and willed myself to move. Somehow I began walking. It was surreal. I felt as if I was floating down the aisle….  Something was propelling me forward.  I felt a sense of calm. A sense of warmth and serenity that I hadn’t felt in 18 months.

***

Eighteen months earlier, my 16 year old brother had been diagnosed with a rare pediatric bone cancer.

The diagnosis was grim. The prognosis was not good.

He was quick to rally. He was going to be fine. He was going to live his life. He was still planning a future. He packed a lot of living in a short time.

Ten days before my wedding he lost his fight.

That was the day my world forever changed. Nothing would ever be the same. The damage was irreparable. I felt gutted, depleted and seething with heartache.

September 15, 1999 was the worst day of my life.

Fifteen years later I still look back and I don’t know how my family and I made it through a funeral and a wedding. But we did. We somehow walked through it together, feeling our way through a fog of pain and grief.

There would be no postponing of the wedding, as I’d suggested. I couldn’t imagine waking up in a world without my brother, let alone throwing a wedding. Every single member of my family told me in no uncertain terms that my brother would never want me to put it off. He always said he “didn’t have time for cancer”, he didn’t let it stop him from doing the things he wanted to do.

And he would be highly pissed if I let cancer stop my wedding.

So, we pulled it together and summoned our strength. Even though we were still in a state of shock, we had a wedding. There were tributes to my brother throughout the wedding. The single candle stood where he was supposed to stand as a groomsman. There was a beautiful poem in his memory read during the ceremony. His favorite song was played at the reception. And we danced. And we drank. And we had fun.

Inexplicably, we had fun.

Fifteen years have passed since that day.

Fifteen years later and I’m still trying to figure out how to move through life without him.

Fifteen years later and I’m still learning how all of this works… the after part.

And even though I’m sometimes exhausted by all that I’ve learned from that day, I know it’s important to pull my head out of the sand. I know I need to pay attention to all that grief has taught me.

I would gladly trade the things I’ve learned to have my brother back.

But I learned a long time ago that bargaining doesn’t work.

So I choose to appreciate the lessons I learned.

I learned to cut people some slack.

You really don’t know what people are going through. You don’t know what they have endured. You don’t know what battles they may be fighting.

There were the times that I would find myself driving 15mph in the left lane. I would be lost somewhere between grief and exhaustion after a long night at the hospital with my brother. I would arrive home with no idea how I got there.

There were times when I’d look up distractedly at the grocery store to realize I’d been standing in the middle of the aisle lost in thought.

I used to be that person that would honk impatiently and cast a dirty look as I zoomed past a slow driver.

Not anymore.

I learned what it was like to really have a bad day. To be so lost in a world turned on it’s head that you could be completely unaware of your surroundings.

I learned that we all have bad days and some of us have really bad days.

Some of us are just trying to make it to tomorrow.

Now I see people differently. I don’t see people who are trying to get in my way. I see someone who may have heavy things weighing on their mind. I’m sure many people granted me that grace, and I’m grateful. I was so fragile and raw that to be confronted by an impatient driver or shopper would have been too much.

Compassion and grace isn’t giving people a pass when you know they’re suffering.

Real compassion is giving people the benefit of the doubt. Granting them access. Assisting them when you don’t know them. Being patient and kind even when you don’t know what they are going through.

If you have to know the behind the scenes? If you have to know their story in order to be kind?

If your kindness is based on an assessment of their pain… if it is conditional…

then it’s not truly kindness.

It’s judgement.

I didn’t get this before. I wasn’t cruel. I wasn’t mean spirited. But I was impatient. I was easily irritated. That was before I realized the depths that people can be trapped in and look completely normal to the rest of the world.

I learned that comfort  sometimes comes from unexpected places.

There are some people who had such an impact on me, who helped me through difficult times. They probably will never know the significance of their actions.

The soft-spoken coworker who offered me a hug as I was leaving to meet my family at the hospital. We were meeting with doctors to get news of test results. He knew I was nervous. When my shy, reserved friend wrapped me in a big bear hug I was overcome. I knew this small gesture was not easy for him to give. His effort to offer me solace moved me. It reminded me that even though my coworkers didn’t know my brother, there was a whole team of people rooting for him.

There was my brash, loud, jokester boss who let me take off as much time as I needed to be with my brother at the hospital.

There was my friend from work who calmly assured me that I would feel joy again after I tearfully confided my fear and pain to her.

Then there’s my husband’s brother and my sister in law who drove 12 hours to attend my brother’s memorial service.

My sister in law was the person I leaned on during that service. I found myself opening up to her and this was only the second time she andI had met. She helped me get through an emotional night. She seemed genuinely touched by the stories she heard from my brother’s friends. She said that he sounded like an amazing person and she felt like she kind of knew him after hearing about his antics.

I almost collapsed with gratitude. Her words gave me hope that my brother wouldn’t be forgotten, that his spirit and his humor could be translated to people who’d never met him.

I learned that an act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wrong. Sometimes it’s the thing that can help someone put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it can make all the difference in the world.

I’ve learned that you can, even 15 years later, be blindsided by the cruel reality of it all.

You can be sitting at your kid’s swim practice just trying to write in your notebook when a memory you’re writing about simply knocks the wind out of you and next thing you know you’re wiping away tears hoping no one notices.

You can be eating dinner at a restaurant and the waiter looks just like your brother. You can’t stop looking at him. You feel the loss and pain take over and overwhelm you. You are again surprised at the cruel force of grief’s ability to blindside you. And you almost want to stalk the waiter just so you can pretend for a minute that your brother’s still here.

You can watch your kids doing something especially mischevious and your thoughts unwillingly flicker to images of your brother. Memories of the antics of a little boy long ago. And then, imagining what could have been. Him egging them on, encouraging their exasperating behavior.

And you can almost hear him laughing, enjoying every second of finding a way to torture you as an adult as he did as a little kid.

And your heart hurts because you know he would have had so much fun with your kids and they would have loved their uncle so much.

You could bottle yourself up and try to insulate yourself from it, but it’s not going away so you might as well let it happen.

You’ll feel it, you’ll hurt, but you’ll be ok. You will be ok. 

And I’ve learned that I still feel my brother’s presence.

I see him in each of my children, in their personalities…  in their sense of humor, which is what my brother was known for.

I feel him sometimes. I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I feel a warmth come over me. A warmth hard to describe because it’s unlike any sensation I’ve felt before.

I feel him when my family is together and my sister and my parents are laughing and we’re giving each other a hard time.

I feel him kicking me in the ass when I’m about to chicken out on doing something that scares me.  I can almost hear what he would say in those situations.

Don’t give up. You’re better than that.

I’ve learned to recognize these moments, when I feel him with me. They are bittersweet. They are welcome. And they tug at my heart because they will never be enough.

My brother was supposed to walk me down the aisle.

When we knew, in those last weeks, that it would not be possible for him to do that, we contemplated our other options.  We considered having both my dad and stepfather walk me down the aisle… or having my sister’s husband walk me down the aisle.

But in the end, I decided that my brother was who I had chosen to walk me down the aisle.

There was no understudy.

There would be no last minute stand in.

I couldn’t imagine replacing him in that role.

I didn’t know how I was going to manage making that walk without him. I didn’t have much time to dwell on it.

And what I’ve learned is that there didn’t need to be a replacement.

My brother showed up.

He kicked me in the ass a little and told me not to be scared. He reminded me that I didn’t have time to let my pain stand in the way of my wedding, my happiness.

My brother showed up…

he  was there with me on one of the best days of my life.

62 Comments

  1. Beautifully written Gretchen and the post shows genuine grace. I am sorry to read the sad circumstances that resulted in a funeral but I am sure your brother is still with you too.

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  2. Beautiful Gretchen, I wish your brother was still with you but I found it so lovely that you know he was there with you on your wedding day and that he is still with you now. That can never replace his physical presence or completely diminish your grief but to have that is so special and it speaks volumes about your relationship with your brother. Every time you write about him your love is so evident. He must have been very, very special. Just like his sister. I needed to hear a few of these lessons today. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself and passing on an important message.

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    1. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he was there. I went from feeling panic and fear to feeling literally like I was being carried down the aisle. And many times since then.

      And yes, he was very special. He was the kid who all the nurses fell in love with. The kid who worried that they were working too hard. While he was going through treatment, he worried about how all of us were doing. Not to say he was a saint. He was like any other teenage boy. But when he got sick I saw a strength and grace that I never realized he possessed.

      Thank you so much for saying all of that. If I have succeeded in getting across how special he was, how special our relationship was… that is all I need to hear.

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  3. You’re strong, even through moments of pain and grief and heartbreak and weakness. Your brother was there with you on your wedding day and still walks by your side today.

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    1. Thank you Sabina. I honestly don’t know how we all got through the wedding. Especially my parents. I think in a way it was healing for the whole family to come together for a happy occasion right after losing him. It still baffles me that there was laughter and dancing and genuine good times. I’m sure the shock helped too.

      And yes, he is with me still. I have moments every now and again. Most recently it was a really emotional blog post I was writing about him. I was in bad emotional shape and all the songs on my iphone (it was on shuffle. and I often listen while I write) were songs that were “his” songs. The songs that remind me of him. Like six in a row. It was crazy. I actually started laughing out loud in the middle of my sobbing!

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  4. I’m in tears reading your post, such beautiful and touching words. What a sister you are, to find the strength to walk down the aisle. I’m not sure I could have done it.
    Shining through all of your words was the impression of how close you were and that deep sibling bond that can never be fully explained, only experienced. A bond that defies death. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. What a wonderful, sweet thing to say. Thank you. I honestly didn’t think I could walk down the aisle. I was really contemplating running. And I was 100% sure about marrying my husband. The whole day I’d been holding back tears, just trying to breathe through it all. And in that moment I almost bailed. And I am so happy to hear you say that you got a sense of the bond we had. He and my sister and my parents and I were very close.

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  5. You break my heart and stick it back together with your words, G. This piece is amazing, and as the others have said, every time you write about your brother, you reaffirm the love you have for him, and the presence he still has in your life. Your relationship shines through, so strong, even though there have been fifteen aching years without him.

    He was with you on that day, cheering you on, and I am certain that he comes by and kicks you in the butt or makes his presence felt in some way. After my Grandad died, for the longest time, my mum and my aunty (and to a lesser extent, I) would see fire engines all over the place. He had been a London fireman, and fire engines were a huge link to him, and somehow, on important days when big things were happening, there would be a big red engine with the ladder on top, reminding us that he was still in our hearts, and would be cheering us on.

    And you, G -every time you act with care or compassion or kindness because of a lesson he taught you – you honour him. You carry him in your heart and let him influence your world and your outlook and your example to others, and even after fifteen years he is still making a difference for good in this world, through you.

    What. A. Guy.

    I love hearing about him. Thank you for writing this, even though it hurt to do it.

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    1. Lizzi, you’re making me cry right now. First with the fire engines and your Grandad. I know that is him. I’ve heard so many things like that from people who’ve lost someone they love. I will always believe that their spirit is still in tune with us and what’s going on in our lives. And there’s just no way that things like the fire engine showing up at significant times is a coincidence. I’m going to think of your Grandad every time I see a fire engine…

      And second, oh my god, you don’t know how much your words mean. For you to say that he’s still making a difference in this world through me? I can’t even respond to that in a coherent way. I just want you to know that what you said here means the world to me. ❤

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  6. I get all of that Gretchen , I can only tell you I am so sorry you lost your sweet brother, it really is a pain so deep it’s been almost debilitating for me this last year, I literally told my husband last night that I didn’t know how people continue on. How is it possible for anything in your life to ever be the same again and not expect to be full of happiness but to try and have any at all. I , like you, know my brother would never want my life to revolve around his absence but some days it’s like you said, it’s like a punch in the face , I think I am okay and then just a small thing reminds me of what I have lost. I think the thing you have to remember is what you gained by knowing and loving them. I know it’s a cliche but the truth is, I would have rather had the time I did then none at all and that is what molds us. And as you said, even in death, our brothers can teach us a lesson about humanity, aren’t we lucky

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    1. Oh Kelly. My heart truly breaks for you. I know the pain you’re in right now. I remember thinking that I would never truly feel happiness again. I don’t know the details of how you lost your brother, but I know I had the impression that it was sudden. Honestly, I think in many ways that has to be a whole different level of grieving. As awful as it was to watch my brother suffer during his treatments, we had plenty of time to prepare for what was going to happen. I’m not saying it made it easier, but that head-spinning shock wasn’t there.

      I wish I had some words of comfort and reassurance for you. What I will tell you is that everyone grieves differently. I don’t think that’s something I realized before. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “move on” or “be over it by now.” Everyone goes through it differently.

      And I will tell you what my friend from work told me. You will feel happiness again. I don’t know when, but you will. It will happen without you even realizing it. The pain of losing Robby won’t go away but you will feel happiness. It’s not an either/or. You can feel both. At least that’s how I look at it. Oh, I wish I could give you a hug right now. For now it’ll have to be just *hugs*. And if you ever need to talk, I’m here (or on Facebook).

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  7. First and foremost, I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother. My sister died almost 5 months ago and your experience touches me deeply. I’m still processing some of your words.

    I’m so struck by this: “Real compassion is giving people the benefit of the doubt. Granting them access. Assisting them when you don’t know them. Being patient and kind even when you don’t know what they are going through.” I’ve been questioning my own level of compassion lately. I feel empathy for people but it often doesn’t make it to the point of compassion where I actually take action to ease their suffering. And it’s because of my personal judgment. My compassion (and I think this is true for most people) comes with conditions and I’ve come to the same conclusion as you – it’s not really compassion if it’s conditional. Working to ease the suffering of people I don’t relate to easily, to people who I may find totally loathsome – that’s what will change the world.

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    1. Karen, I am so, so sorry about the loss of your sister. I know things must still be so raw right now. I truly hope reading this didn’t blind-side you or cause you any more pain.

      As for compassion being unconditional… that’s a hard one. It’s certainly easy to say (or write) but doing it is another thing. It’s something I’ve been much more aware of since my brother’s illness. I started looking at other people, even angry mean-spirited people, and wondering what happened to them. What pain had they been through for them to behave that way? And sometimes I find myself feeling anger or annoyance. Sometimes I find myself acting like an ass. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going on in my own life and forget that everyone’s going through something. On some level, everyone is going through something. I have to remind myself of this over and over and over again. I’m constantly falling short of the ideals I speak of…

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      1. No, not blindsided at all. But in processing your words I realize that time doesn’t heal the hurt but that as time passes more will be revealed that changes the pain.

        I fall short constantly too. That’s what makes the discussion so important. If we can only work to heal the ones we understand, we’re only doing the easy work. The world needs the hard work. Thanks you, Gretchen, for your words. They make a difference.

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        1. Karen I was struck by that same part. Gretchen is a wise woman. Just reading the conversation between you two makes me smile. From what I know of you, you are amazing women. And while none of us is perfect, I have no doubt you are both doing your part to show others compassion even when you don’t realize. But you are right…it is much harder to do this when the other person doesn’t fit the mold of who “deserves” compassion. That is why I love how Gretchen put it…it doesn’t mean giving someone a pass. You can still think they are a her or whatever, but have compassion for the reason that may be causing that.

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  8. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. You are right, we never know what the people we meet are going through.
    I haven’t lost a brother but I lost a baby.
    I know about that grief that sometimes hits you like a ton of bricks, out of nowhere.
    *hugs*

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  9. I am so so sorry for your loss. Your words are gorgeous and a true tribute to the bond between you and your brother. That he showed up on your wedding day, and on so many other occasions since then is comforting although I know that that the lack of his physical presence will continue to sneak up on you, and that grief never goes away.
    He is in you as well – your grace and compassion is beautiful. You extended it to me the other day and I very much appreciate it. I can attest first hand that you do not judge.

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    1. Thank you Kristi. What sweet words! I am so grateful every time I feel his presence. I get greedy and always wish for more but it has gotten me through many tough moments.

      And I was more than happy to show up for you last week. Your writing was an act of courage and it was disheartening in the least to see some of the ignorant and angry responses! You’ve got a lot of people here who have your back. Me included.

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  10. You are at your best when you speak from this place. That lesson about kindness and compassion…perfection. And such a hard lesson to learn and live out. You are an inspiration, much like your brother obviously was.

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    1. Thank you so much Kelly. He was an inspiration. A normal teenage boy with teen boy shenanigans, but what we all saw in him during his illness was incredible. Thank you for always “getting it” when I talk about him. It really means a lot.

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  11. I don’t know you. I don’t know your brother.

    But I do know, feel how deeply you love him, from your words…

    It is not often that a post brings tears to my eyes. Each word you wrote oozes with sincere affection…

    I am sure he is with you every moment and with every breeze that caresses your cheek he is telling you how much he loves you.

    Live a life that would make him proud of you.

    That tiny voice in your heart is his, guiding and protecting you my friend..

    May his soul rest in eternal peace…

    God Bless You…

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  12. Lovely. I found this looking through the links for #1000speak When I read such beautifully expresses thoughts I wonder what I have to add! I have re blogged this.

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  13. love this . thank u. I completely completely resonate with your pain and healing. mom brother . and the pain of certain tragedies hit me most when I’m at my kids school volunteering . so thank u for reminding me that it’s ok and there is no time limit or rules on grief and memorials. luv this blog. going to try and reboot /reb log to my blog but I may break my phone or it will explode . word press hates me. 😊☺

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  14. Thank you. Beautifully written. We lost our 64-years-young mother six months ago to uterine cancer. I’m still trying to figure out my new “normal” without her, as are my dad, sisters and our children. Your words bring me comfort in knowing others feel the same, and also hope that she really is still here, in some way, in those of us who love her. Wishes for continued peace and comfort for you and your family.

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    1. Angela, I’m so sorry you lost your mother. I know it took us years to figure out our “new normal.” Try to be patient with that and just take each day or holiday or event as it comes. Sometimes, on his birthday or big holiday, I feel incredible sadness. Other times we laugh and remember all of the funny and happy moments. Both are ok. What’s helped us as a family is to keep talking about him. My 3 children never met him but they all know all about him and we all talk about him often. I hope you do feel that your mother is still with you. I hope you have moments where you just get a feeling. When I wrote this post (It was one of the first blog posts I’d ever written, so it was a few years ago) I was listening to music with my headphones on (I usually listen to music when I write) There are certain songs that remind me of my brother. As I was writing and crying at the same time, six different songs came on, in a row, that were “Todd songs.” I actually started laughing. I felt like he was encouraging me to keep writing. Honestly? It was the exact same feeling I had when I walked down the aisle and when I gave birth a little over a year later to my son. I felt a warmth in the back of my neck and shoulders and I felt light and weightless and strong at the same time. I wish I could describe it better. It’s unlike any feeling I’ve ever felt, but it was subtle. I hope yo have moments like that where you feel your mom with you. And thank you for saying this offered you comfort… that means so much to me.

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  15. Three days before my grandson’s wedding, our son lost his battle with drugs and died, I was able to be happy that day as the family gathered for the happy occasion.At the rehearsal dinner , they showed pictures on the wall of the bride and groom, we all felt such love. I was connecting with my daughter’s former in law family,that I had not seen in years, we laughed and hugged,after the meal everyone was reluctant to leave ,we were really enjoying ourselves. i glanced up at that wall,there was my son, with his arms spread around two guys,one tall ,one short,both just a blue in form.I could hear his voice telling a story,and then laughing heartily,same timber as always,could not hear the words.A short time before,in widely separate incidents two of his friends had died,I believe that was them. This hit me hard ,but I knew it was giving me permission to be happy. If I were to dream,or fantasize about him ,I could never had thought like it appeared to me. The following day was happy and blessed.I was really blessed to have had this connection.

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    1. Oh, Gene. What a beautiful story. I absolutely believe he was there to connect with you and to give you permission to celebrate and feel joy. It’s funny, because so many people don’t believe in moments like that. But that changes when you lose someone special. You are more open to it and if you pay attention you start to notice things happening. We’ve had many moments over the years, with each member of my family and even some people outside of my family, where we’re certain my brother showed up. Sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes incredibly obvious ways. And to hear his laugh… if there’s one sound I could bottle and listen to whenever I wanted? It would be my brother’s laugh. I’m so sorry you lost your precious son, but thank you so much for sharing your story with me. ❤

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  16. Thank you for sharing this beautifully emotionally charged piece of writing. I was crying throughout the passage as it brought back all the grief to the surface from losing my 20 year old son Jacob from Ewing’s Sarcoma in Oct last year. I’ve just started blogging (having only written 3) and I’m dedicating them to Jacob as they are memories and stories of our family. Writing the blogs helps with keeping him alive x I will look forward to reading more of your blogs. I hope I write as good as you one day.

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    1. I am so sorry you lost your precious son. I know there are no words to ease your pain. My heart breaks for everything you’ve been through and everything you’re going through. It’s been 16 years since we lost my brother. Those first few years after he was gone were brutal. Especially for my parents. I’m amazed and impressed that you are blogging and writing about it. It took me so many years to be able to write about my brother. I’ve written about him (and grief) many times on this blog. Many times I’ve been typing as tears pour down my face. But each time it’s been hugely therapeutic. Incredibly cathartic. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it helps me to process feelings I’d been holding back for so long. And yes, it keeps him alive. I love that other people, people who never even knew him, are hearing about him now. I hope your writing brings you healing as well. <>

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      1. Thanks for replying. I look for things to do in a creative sense to keep his spirit alive. I’m really loving an online workshop that gets you to create items in an art journal & other ways to handle the absolute heartache of losing someone, putting all your feelings, thoughts and emotions through art and you don’t have to be an artist to do it as its all abstraction and anything goes. Keep sharing stories of your brother 🙂 it brings him

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        1. I’m sorry I sent it before I had a chance to correct what I had written as my phone sometimes changes words etc. Keep writing about your beautiful brother and I will keep writing about Jacob – our memories and writings of them will keep them alive

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  17. Beautifully written and every single word is so very true.

    It’s been 17 years since I lost my little brother who was also 16. He also lost his 2 year battle with pulmonary hypertension caused by an undiagnosed heart defect. We also had many days, nights, and weekends at the hospital.

    Whoever said “time heals all wounds” could never have been so wrong. Losing somebody so young with so much life can never heal. With every memory we are creating without him the thoughts of what should’ve been are always present, I believe his way of letting us know he will always be with us.

    My two children are gifts from him. I see him everyday in my older son’s eyes and smile and his caring and kindness to others. I believe my younger daughter was
    truly chosen by him to be our daughter. She was born with Down Syndrome and the same heart condition that went undiagnosed on my brother for so many years. This time it was different though. This time she had her own personal guardian angel getting her diagnosed and through two open heart surgeries. This story was going to have a different ending and if ever there was proof they are always with us this was it.

    Thank you for your words and it was very helpful to me in this moment. May your road ahead be full of kindness and warm memories!

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  18. Thank you for this. While everyone’s circumstances are different, this article truly spoke to me and gave me some hope for the future. My younger brother passed away suddenly 3 years ago and my wedding is in 2 months. I’ve been having a lot of anxiety leading up to the day, knowing that in addition to the joy, there will be pain. Reads like this give me hope, knowing that my family and I will get through it.

    Thank you again for sharing. Glad I stumbled across this.

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  19. I am typing this as tears are streaming down my swollen face. I have a sick mom who I love dearly. No matter how much time I spend with her (in the present), I often wonder about the inevitable. You know, when she’s not (physically) here anymore. I know I shouldn’t but, I do. And, it’s absolutely tortuous. Your article unveiled an unknown comfort…that it will be OK. I have never considered that as an option. I was too lost in this treacherous maze of emotions that I created.
    Thank YOU.
    I know that I am not alone in my pain and, furthermore, your story allows me the opportunity to be ok.

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  20. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it… My mom died in June after about 20 months battling brain cancer. I miss her so much… Your words are such a balm. I am still thawing out to the reality of what has happened (I cannot imagine what your family went through having the wedding so close – you guys are an incredible testament to Love Winning, geeze) and I am in a bit of panic. I don’t know how life can go on, but it is and I can hardly stand it. I see her in my beautiful kids and all over anything Good, sometimes I even feel her… But it’s never enough. And in some strange way it’s sort of a comfort that it will never *be* enough. That her absence will always be felt by those of us blessed enough to know that something Beautiful is missing.

    Biggest hugs, I am so so sorry for the loss of your brother. He sounds truly amazing and your love for him is just stunning.

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  21. Lost my mum and my little sis this year, just 5 months apart. I’m at a different stage of life to you but today is my birthday and last night I came across a beautiful scarf that I had already bought for my sister for christmas. Needless to say, when I go to dinner tonight with my two nieces, it will be worn. Miss them like a raw hole in my side. Mums death was timely but little sis was just 54. I never will stop missing them. Always have thought though that if we cannot be kind to one another, we have no right to call ourselves human.Cried great gollops of tears again on finding this…thanks for sharing from such a depth of feeling.

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  22. Thank you for this beautifully written article. I came across this article on Facebook and have fallen in love with your writings. You hit ever nail on the head, I felt as though you were writing my life stories. In 2010 my brother who was 26 died from Ewing Sarcoma, and it’s been very hard, he was everything to my sister and myself. I don’t know how my parents do it really don’t. There were times while I was reading this article or similar ones related to this topic that you wrote, I felt everything you wrote and I had to stop reading to collect myself in order to continue, I couldn’t not stop reading. All I have to say is Thank you! God Bless!

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  23. Thank you much for writing this. I lost my brother 4 years and 8 months ago. Tomorrow would be his birthay….I still miss him and some times I kust wanr to feel that hi is in the middle of one of his adventures! He was 25 years old and he got to be my groumen….but i have miss him in so many big days. Thank you fpr expressing the mafical conection ans love that can’t be explaind! And you are rigth happines comes back, we’ll always miss them, even if from time to time they let us know they are just right there .

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