HEALING THE GRIEVING HEART
Surviving a Sibling
Host: Dr. Gloria Horsley
With guest: Scott Mastley
August 3, 2006
G: Hello. I’m Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Each week, we welcome you to Healing the Grieving Heart, a show of hope and renewal for those who have suffered the loss of a child or a sibling or a grandchild and the message for us is always that others have been there before you and made it and so can you. You do not walk alone. Well, good morning, Heidi. I thought we’d start the morning by covering a couple of emails. One of the things I wanted to say before the show starts, if any of you have been really frustrated because the archives aren?t on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, I noticed last night that we’d lost the link for the archives and that should be up this afternoon. Also, Heidi and I wanted to tell you that if you?d like to listen to this show live, you can go to our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, and hit on live show and the show will be replayed at 3:00 East Coast time if you want to hear it today. Otherwise, it?ll be archived by probably tomorrow. So I wanted to start out with an email from Barbara from Brooklyn, New York. Barbara says:
Thanks so much for your show. I listen weekly and am making my way through the archives. I agreed with your guest last week.
And our guest last week was Dr. Coralease Ruff and we talked about health.
I agreed with your guest last week saying you need to take care of your health. Two years ago when my daughter died in an auto accident, my husband, who is in the police department, was first on the scene.
Wow, Heidi, that must have been incredible.
H: Yeah, wow, that’s awful.
He got such heart pain that they thought he was having a heart attack. His doctor actually said that you could die of a broken heart.
H: Wow. I was wondering about that because I’ve heard that before and I didn?t know if that was an urban myth or if it was true.
G: Yeah. There was actually an article in the New York Times about three or four weeks ago, I think, saying you can die of a broken heart and talking about a similar situation to this so our listeners might want to take a look at that and certainly you need to take care of your health. Barbara goes on to say:
I?m trying to walk and eat right in order to take care of my family. Thank you again for your show and for reminding me to take care of myself.
Well, thank you, Barbara, that’s great, and that certainly is something we need to do is to take care of ourselves.
H: And like you said, yes, we have to watch for those signs.
G: Okay, could you do the second email, Heidi?
H: Okay, the second one, and you know what, Scott, feel free to come in if you have any advice for the second email because it?s something that you and I know about. It?s about sibling loss. It?s from Elaine from O?Leary, Ohio, and it says:
Heidi and Gloria,
I need some advice. My daughters, June and Sue, ages 10 and 12, their stepsister was killed in a fall this summer. Kate was 16 and the girls adored her. My question is about when the girls go back to school, and I am concerned because no one in our town knew Kate. Should I alert their teachers regarding our family?s loss?
Thank you, Elaine. It sounds like no one knew this stepsister that died and now there?s two girls that are going back to school ages 10 and 12 and Elaine needs advice on what to tell their teachers.
S: I would definitely recommend telling the teachers about it.
H: I agree with you.
S: It may give them some insight into their state of mind and why sometimes they?re more quiet than they normally would be or that kind of thing. Just let her be aware of what they?re going through and what they?re experiencing and why they may struggle a little bit socially. I think that?s important.
H: I absolutely agree, Scott, and like you said, their concentration may be different and they may have times where they?re not doing well. There might be anniversary dates that the teacher needs to be alerted to and know about. And I was thinking, too, Scott, I don?t know about your situation, but sometimes in schools, there are also bereavement groups, and if the guidance counselor is aware of this, maybe she could get the girls into a support group or into a bereavement group.
G: I’m back. We had some issues going on here in the house. For our listeners, we happen to do these shows from our home phones. Heidi is usually in New York, I?m in Carmel, California, and our guest is in Atlanta, right?
S: That?s right.
G: And our studio is in Arizona. So Heidi and I talked about this email last night. One of the things I wanted to say about this email was the fact that because these girls, and maybe you covered this, Heidi, are probably spending the summer with their dad or whatever, the whole community doesn?t know.
H: Well, that?s true, too, right.
G: So I thought you might even educate anybody in the community, particularly dad, who it must be his biological child, and not mom?s, might want to go and let people know about losing his child, wouldn?t you say, Scott?
G: It might be an opportunity for him to deal with it, too.
H: And sometimes, the 10 and 12 year old girls might not feel comfortable telling people because you do want to be like everybody else and you don’t want people to know sometimes so it is good for the parents to alert other parents as to what has happened in the family.
G: Yeah, their friends, because you can imagine these little girls go to school. They have had this horrific event and nobody knows.
H: Right, exactly.
G: I mean, what opportunity do you have to bring it up?
H: Yeah. So, thank you, Elaine. We appreciate it.
G: Yes, absolutely. And thank you to Barbara. We love you guys? emails. They?re really helpful and please continue to put where you?re from on the emails because we love to know where our listeners come from. And I want to remind you again that our show is archived on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org website. You can download it through Itunes. And when you go to our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, we have Library of Life on there and people light candles for Scott which we love, don’t we, Heid?
H: Yeah, I love seeing that and I love when you bring up and talk about your siblings that have died and your children that have died also on our website.
G: Yeah, I love to have you put your own sibling or child?s name on our website on the candle. Very touching. So, Heid, do you want to introduce our guest today?
H: Sure, and I?ve kind of already brought Scott in. Hi, again, Scott. I usually don?t do that but today I did it and it was good. Let me introduce the person that you all have been hearing already his voice. I want to introduce our guest. His name is Scott Mastley, and our topic today is Surviving a Sibling. Scott Mastley?s older brother, Chris, was killed in a car accident December 5, 1994. In shock, Scott found The Compassionate Friends and after several years, became the co-leader of his chapter’s sibling group, eventually becoming sibling representative for the metro-Atlanta area. As a result of his loss and in honor of Chris and other bereaved siblings, Scott wrote Surviving a Sibling, a book based on responses of hundreds of online surveys completed by bereaved parents and siblings. Scott has published articles in We Need Not Walk Alone magazine, and in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul. He appeared on Peachtree Morning?s television show and was featured on Fox 5 News in Atlanta. On this show, Scott will discuss ways of discovering life after loss. Scott lives in Georgia with his wife and two daughters. They know and love Chris even though he was gone before they came along. Welcome to the show, Scott.
S: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
H: I just want to say one more thing and that?s that I saw Scott speak several years ago in Atlanta at a Compassionate Friends conference and he was so fabulous and had such a positive way of talking about what he?s gone on to do since his brother died that I said okay, I don?t know who this person is, but I need to track him down and get him on the show. It took some legwork but I finally got him and I?m excited to have him here today.
S: Thanks for the effort.
G: Yeah, it?s great to have you on the show, Scott. Could you tell us about your brother and how old were you when he died and how did that happen?
S: Sure. I was 25 and Chris was 27. My older brother?s name was Chris and we were about two years apart, and he had recently moved back to Atlanta for a job that he?d been wanting to get. He was a pharmaceutical rep so he drove around calling on doctors and hospitals and was basically representing some drugs that dealt with multiple sclerosis. He had just called on a hospital in Dothan, Alabama, some doctors he knew, and as he was leaving the hospital, he came up on an intersection that we think that he must have thought it was a four-way stop because it appeared that way. There was some construction going on. You couldn?t really see. So basically what happened was there was someone coming perpendicular. He kind of did a short stop and then kept going thinking that the other person had to stop but the other person didn?t stop. It was only a two-way stop so the other car hit him, knocked Chris? car into a telephone pole, and there was an off-duty fireman who was across the street painting a house and he came and sat in the car with Chris until the ambulance came. They had to get the jaws of life and cut out the top of the car and they got Chris out and brought him back to the hospital and he ended up dying during surgery as they were trying to save his life.
H: Wow, so he was alive with this fireman when he was sitting there.
H: And could he talk?
S: Not a whole lot. I asked what did he say? I asked the nurses what he said and they said that he was talking about how he was having some trouble breathing and that kind of thing.
G: He was probably having internal bleeding. Is that what was going on?
S: Yup. I have the name and number of the fireman who sat with him, but I?ve never actually talked to him.
G: You know, it?s time for us to take a break now and when we come back, let?s revisit this and talk to Scott about the loss of his brother. This is Healing the Grieving Heart, and I?m your host, Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. These shows are archived on our website www.healingthegrievingheart.org as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org website. Please stay tuned to hear more from our guest, Scott Mastley.
Before we get started talking with Scott again, I wanted to remind you that if you?re listening to our Thursday show live on the internet, you can call us on our toll free number, 1-866-472-5792 with questions or comments regarding the losses in your life. These shows are archived on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, and www.thecompassionatefriends.org website. They can also be downloaded through Itunes and we?re on selected radio stations in Chicago, Boston, Richmond, Virginia, Monterey, Santa Cruz, California. So getting back to our show now. Scott, welcome back. We were talking about your brother, Chris? death and how he collided with a car at an intersection and an off-duty firefighter had been sitting with him and how very comforting to know somebody was with him, and they took him to the hospital, had to get him out with the jaws of life, and he died on the operating table probably I assume while they were trying to stop the bleeding. And you were telling us that you were able to talk to one of the nurses.
S: What happened was my dad called me at work that day and said that Chris had been in an accident and it was pretty serious and I needed to go home. It?s a 45-minute drive. I drove out to my parents? house where they live and when I got there, my mom was there and she seemed pretty calm so I thought, okay, he must be okay. It must not be as bad as it sounded or anything. And then she got on the phone and immediately just started yelling this can?t be true, not my baby, and that kind of stuff, and kind of dropped the phone, and then I knew it was bad. So I picked up the phone and talked with the nurse and it was hard for her to give us the news as well because they knew Chris. They were his clients and they had a relationship with him so when he came right back in they said, wait a minute, that?s Chris. He just left. So she had to call and tell us.
H: So Chris had just left from that hospital.
S: Yes, he had been there probably 15 minutes before.
G: Oh my goodness. What a shock. Now this left you as an only child.
S: That?s right.
G: And did that strike you at the time and how has that been?
S: At the time, it didn?t hit me immediately, but after a while, it kind of came to me that I was an only child and that eventually I was going to be older than my older brother and that was a pretty weird situation where I remember the day, actually, when I lived longer than he did and I still look at the pictures and even now, I feel like he looked older than I do now which I?m sure is not the case, but it just feels that way. He?s always going to feel like my older brother.
H: I?ve heard siblings say, because I was older than my brother, so that never happened to me, but I?ve heard siblings say so many times it?s very strange when you get past their birthday, when you become older than your older sibling.
S: It?s bizarre. There are definitely some things that change when you?re the only child. You get the questions from people who say, hey, do you have any brothers and sisters, which is an innocent question in casual conversations and then you hesitate for a minute because you don?t want to scare them off and what I usually used to say is I had a brother and now it?s just me or I used to have a brother and that kind of thing. I feel weird saying I?m an only child because I still don?t feel like I?m an only child.
H: So you feel like you have to honor his memory because you grew up as a sibling, as somebody?s brother.
H: You know, Scott, all this time, I was talking to my mom about this the other day, I have parents all the time say I am so worried about the fact that I only have an only child. I?m worried that the sibling death has destroyed my surviving child?s life because now they?re an only child and it?s destroyed their lives.
S: That?s one of the things I found when I did the on-line survey for The Compassionate Friends website.
G: This is the one that?s the basis of your book, right?
S: Yeah, this was part of what I based the book on. I did a lot of surveys with bereaved parents and then another survey with surviving siblings and that came out of the first few times I went to the group called Compassionate Friends, I was the only sibling there so I sat in on a parents group and they were really focused on me pretty intensely and I realized that they had a need for knowing what surviving siblings are going through. And then when I went to the surviving sibling group for a few years I realized that they had a mutation gap between the parents and the siblings so we did the survey and some of the questions were about how can parents help their children. I would ask the siblings what can your parents say to you to help you? And the kind of responses that I got from siblings are things like, the most helpful thing parents can say to the surviving children were that you don?t expect them to take the place of your siblings, we don?t expect you to take on his or her goals or try to live her life or to all of a sudden become the funny one at the table because your deceased sibling
G: Oh, what a wonderful point. The funny one at the table, yeah.
S: We don?t expect you to fill that space and that we love you for who you are and we don?t expect you to be any different but we want you to talk to us about what you?re going through and don?t feel like you have to protect us by keeping your feelings from us. Those were some of the things that siblings said and then they said really not to push too much. A lot of surviving siblings said they felt that their parents tried to push the conversation a little bit by always wanting to talk about the surviving sibling.
H: You know that?s another question I have. Parents say our kids aren?t talking to us and we?re not sure what to do. We?re not sure if we should push it or we?re not sure if we should just allow silence. How to get our kids to open up more.
S: Based on the survey results and then based on my three or four years involved with The Compassionate Friends and all the siblings that I met, their responses would be definitely don?t push it, just to say, we?re here for you. I can tell you why a lot of surviving siblings don?t talk to their parents as much as their parents wish they would is because they want to protect them. Surviving siblings will say, hey, my parents are just destroyed by this. They?re sad all the time, especially in the early few years of grief and they say I don?t want to add to their sadness. I say hey, I?m hurting, too, but we all know that we?re all hurting and just admitting it doesn?t all of a sudden bring it into light. It?s there anyway. So in my experience, it?s better for the parents just to say we?re here for you when you want to talk about it, give them their space, and not to say things like who are you talking to about this? And I want to make sure you?re dealing with it and handling it because sometimes it pushes kids away who are dealing with it. A lot of times they are talking with their friends more candidly than they?re talking with their parents because they?re trying to be strong for their parents.
H: And like I say to parents all the time, your kids are trying to be good kids by not causing you any more pain. That?s why they?re not talking about it. You?ve been through enough. It?s not because they?re being bad kids or rebelling. They?re trying to protect you.
S: And think about what siblings hear when their brother or sister dies and all of their friends and their relatives and their parent?s friends and co-workers over the next month, there?re calls, and there are letters and cards and everything and they all say be strong for your parents. Your parents need you now. It?s important that you?re there for them. Are you taking care of them? That kind of thing and a sibling rarely ever hears how are you?
H: It was interesting, because mom, you and I did that show with the 9/11 siblings, the Kiefers, and they got literally thousands and thousands and thousands of condolences because their brother was a firefighter who died in 9/11. Their parents got thousands and thousands. They got zero. They did not get one. That?s amazing. None. Zero.
G: So what we want to say to you folks out there is, not that you need to drum up more condolences for your kids or whatever if you?re newly bereaved, but the reality is know that this is what?s happening to them and this is their experience. And when we get back from break, I?d like Scott Mastley and Heidi and I to talk about what the siblings need and let?s talk a little about from Scott?s book on what the parents need, too.
Scott, let?s quickly say the name of your book and how to get it.
S: Okay. It?s called Surviving a Sibling and the best way to find it is on https://www.centeringcorp.com and then just click on sibling grief and it?ll take you straight to it.
G: And you can also ? you?ll be able to go on our website. We?ll have it listed as one of the books that our guests have written. So Scott, okay, what do you think the difference is between grieving of the lost child and the sibling, what did parents need?
S: There?s some pretty big differences. One is that parents are dealing with their marital relationship as well and struggling with that. The difference from the surviving sibling?s point of view is that all of a sudden we see our parents as human beings instead of these invincible super heroes that we always thought they were.
G: That?s scary.
H: That?s a good point.
S: Because all of a sudden, you know, people in certain families have grown accustomed to attention and sympathy and caring and the things you hope to get from your parents and then all of a sudden they?re not getting those things and they can take it personally. Some siblings will interpret that as they wish it was me.
H: The wrong child died kind of thing?
S: Sure. Like all of their attention is going toward the one that?s gone and here I am, but that?s not the truth. The truth is that
G: their energy level is gone.
S: Yeah, they have internalized, they have gone inside, and they just don?t have the strength within them in the early parts of grief to be able to show externally how they?re feeling towards other people. At least that?s my experience. I?m not the doctor.
G: What were parents like when you interviewed them? What did they say about their kids? What was their worry? I know what my worries were. My worries were that they weren?t going to be okay and that things were going to fall apart and I didn?t have the energy to hold them together.
S: Sure. The number one thing that I always hear from bereaved parents is why don?t they talk to me? Why doesn?t he talk to me? Why doesn?t she talk to me? Is she going through this or not?
H: Yup, that?s what I hear, Scott, too. That the number one thing.
S: The kids, the surviving siblings, no matter what age usually try to protect their parents. They try to be strong. They say I don?t want to add to the grief here. I don?t want to add to the sadness. I want to show them that I?m doing okay so that it?s one less thing that they have to deal with. In most situations, that?s what?s happening.
G: Well, I think there?s one little difference in your situation that some of our listeners had really young children whereas you could intellectualize it more. These young kids are probably partially just afraid, too, of what?s going on.
S: That?s right, but other people tell me, hey, Scott, quit thinking that the whole world is like you because we had a really close family. Chris and I were great, great friends. We were really close and not everybody has that.
H: Scott, I?ve got to tell you. You are an expert on sibling loss. You had a sibling die and you?ve done all these things. I am hearing the same thing you are telling me. That is the number one concern parents have when I work with them clinically, when I do workshops, etc. is our kids aren?t talking to us.
G: Absolutely. I was meaning if our folks had little younger kids maybe under seven that the kids might be afraid. I think the parents may want to, no matter how old they are, they want them to talk to them.
H: Oh, the kids might be afraid to talk about their sibling?
G: The kids just might be afraid that their parents are changing. That things aren?t right.
H: Oh, I agree. And it?s scary to see parents grieving, especially when you?re dependent on your parents.
G: Well, Scott, you wrote an article called ?Through the Heart Grief? for the We Need Not Walk Alone magazine. And, by the way, folks, you can get that. It?s a free magazine. Wonderful. And you can get it through The Compassionate Friends website. But you made some comments in this that I wanted to bring up because I think they?re very good and don?t attempt to go around your grief. Did you attempt to go around your grief early on?
S: Originally I did. I tried to set an example for everybody and show them how strong I was and that I could go out and work and meet friends and do all these things and help my parents and not deal with it.
G: What was happening to you inside?
S: Right. But instead, it was just building up, building up, building up.
G: How did it feel? What was going on for you? Do you remember?
S: Well, I realized that before Chris died, I never cried really at all. Even in my early 20s and teens and everything, I just never cried about anything and then all of a sudden after Chris?s death, I cried a lot, and I couldn?t believe it, and so I would cry by myself, and then I was wondering, hey, what?s going on here. I?m trying to be strong and deal with this, and I?m crying, and I can?t really control it, but when I finally decided that hey, I can?t go around it, I can?t go over it, anything like that, I just have to go straight through it, which is what Jim Derr, who is a long-time surviving sibling had told me. He said people try to go over it, around it, under it, but the only way to successfully survive it is to go straight through it. So once I just said you know what, either I can let it come over me and accept that this is part of who I am and learn how to carry it, or I can try to hold it off.
G: How long did that take you?
S: I think that probably took me about six months.
H: And how did you know that that?s where you were? Did you hit the wall and get really depressed or really back down?
S: Well, six months was the point where I just really, really got depressed and just couldn?t stop crying, and I?d have to pull off the side of the road and I couldn?t really even work, and I didn?t know what was going on and then I realized that hey, this is going to happen to me whether I want it to happen or not so I?d better decide that I need to accept that this is part of who I am now and learn how to live with it instead of trying to pretend it?s not there.
G: Is that when you started Compassionate Friends?
S: Yes, that?s at the same point was when I said I?m going to go check out this Compassionate Friends group and that made all the difference.
G: That takes a lot of nerve for a sibling to go into a Compassionate Friends group that was mainly adults. Good for you.
S: I appreciate it.
G: Now, you talk about in this article forgetting your phone number. Do you remember doing that?
H: That?s how bad the concentration gets, right?
S: Yeah, your brain is just consumed with pretty heavy thoughts and you just get intellectually clumsy for a little while.
G: And also, didn?t you find yourself not being able to find out where you were? I was lost many times in my neighborhood.
G: How about feeling isolated?
S: I think one question that you all had asked me earlier was what?s your biggest challenge in being a surviving sibling? I thought about that and my biggest challenge is that feeling of isolation, that feeling that the closest person in the world to me is gone and I can?t just pick up the phone and call him when I want to, I can?t share joys with him, or I can?t commiserate with him over the phone, or have a few beers with him, or anything. You?re just gone. And that is a pretty big feeling of isolation because you have friends, you have relatives, you have your family, but that person is gone and cannot be replaced.
H: And they don?t know you. You have a shared history with the sibling. No one knows you like your brothers and sisters. They know things about you no one else knows. They were there with you. Christmas with you your entire life, and you expected to grow old with him. He?s supposed to be with you right now. Life is not supposed to happen this way.
S: Yeah, it?s that understanding that was just a given between us. That doesn?t exist in most of your other relationships so you have to explain yourself and you just miss that ability just to look at someone and have them understand what you?re thinking.
H: And you have no one you can complain to about what your parents are doing.
G: I was going to say, the old joke is that you had a common enemy, your parents.
S: Right. You all had asked about being an only child and that?s one of the things that I realized. I talk to my parents a lot more now. I talk to them almost every day because instead of calling Chris, I call them, and sometimes I feel like I call them too much because I want to share what?s going on and I?m obviously a talker, so I call them, and sometimes I feel bad that I?m calling them too much but Chris isn?t there any more.
G: Right. It?s time for us to go to break now on that note, and you?re listening to Healing the Grieving Heart.
I just want to say that you can get Scott?s book by going to the website and going to www.centering.org and hitting on sibling books and it will also be on our website. Scott, this is our last break now, and I wanted to know if there?s anything you want to talk about before the show ends. But I want to get my little two cents in first and I would like to ask you what the best piece of advice that you could give to siblings and parents who have lost a child and a sibling?
S: The best piece of advice I could give would be not to dwell on the whys and the what ifs, in other words, the longer you dwell on the unknowns, the questions that you?re never going to have answers to, like for me, why did Chris pull out in the middle of that intersection and what was he doing? Was he changing his radio station? Was he distracted? All the things that I?m never going to know. The longer that I dwell on those, the harder it?s going to be for me to accept the reality of the grief and to kind of adapt to it. The way I like to think of it is that I just find the answers that I can live with, the answers that I can accept, and then I try to understand that there are some questions I?m not going to get the answers to, and I know there are a lot of religious questions that come up, too, and I just have to reason those out and deal with them and say this is something that?s a part of who I am. It?s heavy, and I have to learn to carry it. I have to learn to carry the tremendous weight of grief and learn how to live with it.
G: And that takes awhile, and there are folks out there who are still in the whys of the story and it takes awhile, huh?
S: Sure. Time is obviously the best healer. It has made a huge difference for our family. It?s been ten years for me, and I know the first two years especially for me were the hardest. For other people it?s a different time thing. Don?t hold yourself to any time line or anything, but just understand that there are a lot of us survivors out here and we?re all surviving and we?re doing okay. That eventually, you?ll learn to live with it even though it?s not fun, it?s just something that will happen so don?t give up. The definition of surviving is actually rising to act, and I think if you?re going to survive the grief, survive the loss of a loved one, then you have to eventually get up, you gotta get back up eventually, so don?t give up.
H: And you?ve done stuff like that in your life and I know you wanted to talk about a memory book and other ways that you?ve kind of moved forward and that you remember your brother and honor his memory.
G: Yeah, and give our listeners some suggestions on how they might do it.
S: Sure. One of the things I did that was very helpful for us was create a memory book. I sent a letter out to all our friends, relatives, and many people I could think of that knew Chris, and I said if you can send me anything, quote of his, a story, something you remember, a photograph, anything you want, just send it to me, and it will help us because it comforts us to know that we?re not the only ones missing him.
H: I love that.
S: and because of that, I got tons of stories and things that I had forgotten about Chris. People reminded me of things he had said and done that I had forgotten about which was great because siblings and parents a lot of times just want to hear from other people. Hey, I was thinking about your brother today. Something reminded me about your son today. Those kinds of things can really comfort us.
G: Now how far out were you when you did that?
S: Probably about four years.
G: See, now I?d love the audience to know that. It?s never too late.
H: And I love reaching out to others to get their memories because sometimes when we?re in our heightened grief, we can?t remember a lot of stuff and that?s scary initially. As time goes on, I was able to remember more.
S: Any time I?m really down, I can pull out that memory book and read some of those stories and see the pictures and it always brings me back up, makes me laugh. It?s a great thing to have.
H: And like you said, they probably had pictures that you weren?t even aware of.
S: Sure. And also a lot of friends who had never discussed his death with me all of a sudden said, boy, I remember that day. I got the call at work and this is what I went through and they had never talked to me about it before but because I had reached out and said this is something we?d like to do to remember Chris, all of a sudden they started talking to me about it. And I think they felt it was okay because some time had passed. They weren?t afraid any more. So it helped me a lot to hear what they went through.
G: You know I had somebody talk about ten years out where they decided to do a Christmas book and give it to someone and ten years out, they sent letters.
S: Oh, it?s a great idea.
H: I think so, too. And I love funny stories because my brother always brought so much humor into my life and I love when people give you funny stories about somebody.
G: I have to give Scott a funny story about our son?s name and Heidi?s brother?s name was Scott. When Heidi went to college, he had a TV set in his room, and we didn?t have that many TV sets, and Heidi got ready to go to college and she went in to get the TV set.
H: Because I was going to bring it into my dorm room. That was going to be my television in my dorm room.
G: So he was off at school and it was, guess what?
G: No it was chained.
H: It was there, Scott, but he had chained it with his handcuffs to the desk. Now I was leaving on an airplane to go to the west coast. I could not get that freaking TV set unchained. He got it, and I didn?t have a TV, but that?s, yeah, that?s a funny story. Looking back.
S: Yeah, that?s hilarious.
H: Looking back. At the time it wasn?t funny, but looking back, it?s hilarious.
S: That?s right. I mean getting those stories is always so helpful. I know my mom, because I mentioned earlier that a fireman had stayed in the car with Chris, every year for Thanksgiving she takes a big Thanksgiving dinner to the local fire department as a thank you to the profession. The people who do that kind of stuff.
H: And it just keeps on giving and every year she keeps on doing it. I love that.
S: Right, yeah.
G: Well, you know, you and Heidi are an inspiration to me and all of the siblings because it makes me as a parent feel good because it doesn?t end people?s lives because their sibling dies.
S: Not at all.
H: No, no. I agree. Like I was saying last week, our lives are not destroyed. It was a defining moment in our lives and it?s been a horrible horrific thing, but you can go on and Scott and I have and we have children now and we have spouses and we?re keeping Chris and Scott?s memories alive, and we?re telling our kids about their uncle that they?ll never know. They?ll know their uncle through us.
S: That?s true. I?ve showed pictures of Chris to my kids who never met him and then when they say their prayers at night, they pray for Chris and they know who he is and what he was about and they recognize him, and I think that?s important.
H: And our brothers live on in our children in many ways.
G: Some of our listeners do not have siblings ? they lost an only child, and we want to say to them that our hearts go out to you and occasionally we get a little email where people are suffering because they do not have other children and we know wonderful stories about how they reach out to the world and do good in the world also.
H: And your children will live on by the memories that you share with other people in your life. It doesn?t have to be other children. It can be friends.
G: Absolutely and doing big brother services or other things that you do in the world. Well, Scott, did you have any other things you wanted to say before we close the show?
S: Yeah, I just want to tell people not to give up and to have faith in themselves and to reach out to other people when they need people, and that Compassionate Friends is there. It?s a great bereavement support group that has helped millions of people worldwide and I definitely encourage you to get in touch with that group if you haven?t already.
G: Absolutely, and it?s a great way to tell your stories, Scott, and to help you move along, and again, that idea that others have made it before you, and you can make it, too. And so we want to close our show today, and we want to thank Scott Mastley for being on, and Heidi do you want to just say a quick comment about his book?
H: Yes. Thank you so much, Scott. This is a great show, and Scott?s book is called Surviving a Sibling and I highly recommend it. He?s interviewed hundreds of people, bereaved parents and siblings, and you can get it through The Centering Corp.
G: And next week, Reverend William Ritter is going to be on our show. His son, Bill, Jr., died of suicide at age 27. He is a retired Methodist minister who wrote the book, Take the Dimness of My Soul Away. He was a great speaker at the conference, and we hope you?ll tune in. I?m Dr. Gloria Horsley
H: and I?m Dr. Heidi Horsley. Thank you so much, Scott, and Chris?s memory lives forever in the lives he?s touched and through you.
S: Thank you.