I can still remember the call that told me my younger brother was dead. It was from my grandmother. Funnily enough, I’d been contemplating that my grandparents were getting old and that I needed to prepare myself for their deaths. I never expected that I would receive a call from them to tell me that my brother had crashed his car into a lamp post on the way home from a concert and was killed immediately. He was 17; I was 22.
The death of a sibling is strange. Everyone asks how your parents are, but everyone seems to forget about you. It’s as if you are not important. Your role is there to provide support to everyone else. Somehow it didn’t surprise me when I went looking for information on the internet and found that siblings were known as the “forgotten mourners.”
The relationship between siblings is unique. There is no one else in the world that you have such a love-hate relationship with. I know that I would curse my brother harshly but if anyone else did, then I would attack them for it. Siblings have a right that no one else has. It means that you can show your worst to them and know that they will still forgive you afterwards and speak to you like nothing was wrong.
Some people attibute this gift to parents too. Yet it is different. As a sibling, you are allowed to know hidden activitives, beliefs, attitudes and dreams that are never shared with parents. As your sibling grows older, this perspective can be transferred to partners but siblings seem to share the most information.
When you lose a sibling, you also lose your identity. Your sibling has always been part of your life. They have helped define who you are and your role within the family. It leads you to question who you are and what your life purpose is.
If you are younger like myself, you also lose the chance to develop a relationship based on friendship with someone who has known you your whole life. I know that my relationship with my brother was changing as he died. Although he was my younger brother, his wisdom at times made him appear to be my older brother. I was grateful for someone who was looking out for me. And I was so angry that this had been taken away from me. I was also angry that I would never see him get married, have children or grow old so I could tease him about how ugly he was getting.
Your sibling is also your peer, so it leads you to question your own mortality. It also leads you to question why them and not me. In my attempt to make sense of this question, I moved into the realm of helping others affected by loss transform grief, find peace and feel more positive about the future. It was my way of justifying my brother’s death.
It’s now been over 8 years since my brother died, and I am at peace with it. It’s ok that I’ll never fight with him again or hug and make up. It’s ok that I’ll never know what man he would have grown into. I still think about him every day and I talk to him a lot. I’ve created a new relationship with him that continues on after death. After all, he is my brother and always will be. Not even death can take that away from me.
Tabitha Jayne 2011