Death of a Sister: ‘Part of My Soul Has Left Me’

And I walk to your grave alone, in the cold demise of Fall.  It seems so much colder here without the comfort of knowing that you will be here to protect me in this life as you have so well.  The sky is white and endless.  The sun has been cloaked by the cryptic fog.  The leafless trees sway back and forth with the algid wind.  The ground is damp and dreary.  The world never seemed to be such a strong representation of death before you left me here, all alone.

Oh, my elder sister, why have you left me alone in this world so untrained?  So unprepared, so immature, so callow?  What am I to do with my life, knowing you are no longer here to guide me? I weep before I even reach the cemetery.

I am the air around you, listening your words.  I am the wind whispering to you that I can hear you.  I absorb them, as they fill me with both love and sorrow.  Do not fail to notice the only tree left in your path where the leaves still remain.  Their texture is silky and warming.  Their color is as yellow as a bouquet of daisies and they shine like the beautiful bright sun in the empty darkness of space.  Rain trickles down unto them and I weep for the sadness that my departure has left for you.  Though, I have not departed at all.

With each passing day, I curse God, or the Gods, or the Whoever with greater animosity.  I cannot believe in anything that has taken you away from me and snatched you away from life.  You had no chance to marry, to raise a family, to make a name for yourself and make this world shine brighter.  Now all that is left is this desolate, bleak, empty pit of a world.

I spread the clouds to illuminate the darkness, but you do not see because your eyes are so used to the dark that they cannot adjust to the light which surrounds you.

Life is so very different.  It is almost impossible to call what I am existing in as life.  It seems that the rest of the world is alive, and I am just here with them.  I have to “live” buried in this lugubrious soul, while everyone else lives freely.  I open the cold gates of the cemetery and continue on my path to where I feel I belong.  Amongst the dead and decaying.  Not among the living, not among those who’s souls blossom.

I have not died.  I die when God dies.  I surround you in this world through the eyes of the truly natural.  The truly beautiful and pure.  If only you knew how beautiful life can be.  I stare at the stars and wonder what beauty other worlds and galaxies hold.  But I do not wonder any longer what beauty this world contains.

Never have I felt so alone.  I must find my path in this world by myself.  I must deal with your death without you here to comfort me.   I must walk to your grave alone.  I arrive with flowers and a letter that I wrote to you.  It was not meant to be read aloud because it was only meant for your eyes and no one can overhear it.

I bend down to lay the flowers and the letter near your stone, but instead fall to my knees and bury my face in my hands.  My eyes shut tighter and tighter until I am struck with pain.  I tear at my ear, my cheek, my eyes.  Tears flow in-between my fingers and down into the soil of your grave.

Part of my soul has left me now that you are gone.  Part of my sanity has escaped me now that you are gone.  My older sister, my protector, my guide, forever absent from my life.  How I wish you were here to console me and talk me back into sanity, but you cannot because you are forever gone…and only further fade away in time.

I am the wind that lifts the fallen leaves to float around you.  I am the leaves, hugging you in your sorrow, telling you that I am okay with where I am now.  You shouldn’t worry about me.  I am the elder, it is my duty to worry about you.  The leaves spiral around your curled up body and the wind whispers these words into your ears, but you are covering your ears and blinding yourself from me.  The Earth cries rain because of your sadness, not because of my loss.

I finally rise from the ground and walk out of the cemetery.  I cannot return home yet, so I walk to a pond nearby.  The Earth is painted in a mysterious fog and I cannot see more than a few feet ahead of me.  The world is hidden, but each step I take uncovers new areas. More trees, roads, fallen leaves, sticks, bushes, birds, life become visible with every step.  The only sounds that can be heard are subtle chirpings and leaves blowing in the wind.

The almost-silence helps me calm down, since the real world is anything but.  I reach the pond and stare as far as I can see (which is only a few feet, due to the fog).  The water is surprisingly blue and sprinkled with colored leaves.  I become lost in the ripples of the water and suddenly this world doesn’t seem so desolate.  The contrast of the blue waters against the white sky, and the black birds gleefully floating in the colorless sky to no foreseeable destination makes it seem like this world itself is a beautiful painting.

It’s funny how not all beauty is obvious and colorful, such as spring and summer.  In fact, I find myself to be drawn into the uncertain atmosphere of fall and winter more so than spring and summer.

I am the pond.  The water, the leaves, the birds, the sky, the trunk and branches of the trees, the grass.  I am all that surrounds you.  I try with my all to bring ease to your now chaotic world.  As I surround you, I try to let you know that this world doesn’t have to be chaotic.  This world can be worth living, even if you think I am not here.  As I surround you, I try to fill your heart with love.

I reach into my pocket and pull out a picture of you so that I can tell you that my pain is temporarily extinguished.  I don’t know how to tell you what I’m feeling, but as I gaze into your eyes I want to tell you…something.  I share this moment of peace with you, since I very rarely contact you for anything that even resembles peace.  I want you to be here in this moment of…something.  Not sadness, not happiness, not indifference.  This moment of empty thoughts, while being a moment that is anything by empty.

If only I could tell you how much I love you.  If only I could tell you how much I miss you.  If only you could share this moment of calmness with me.

The rain ceases to fall onto the Earth and the wind ceases to blow.  The trees dance no more and the sun begins to peak through the fog in a distance.  As I surround you, I share this moment of peace with you.

Evan Rieger 2011

Evan Rieger

More Articles Written by Evan

In 2008 Evan Reiger's twenty-two year old sister was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and in 2009, she passed away. This was during the transition period from high school to college for Evan, and nothing has had a greater impact on my life. Evan is currently concluding his junior year at SUNY-New Paltz as an English major. He grew up in Syosset, New York, and is the youngest of three children. He has been writing short stories and poems about his lost loved ones since he has entered college. Evan also writes horror, science fiction, and adventure stories as well. His memoir piece entitled, "Therapy For A Nerd," was recently selected by the writing staff of SUNY-New Paltz for an award of distinction. Evan can be contacted through his e-mail, [email protected]


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  • andrea says:

    I am the very proud mother of the author. My husband, the author’s brother and I have all had a difficult time struggling with the tragic loss of my daughter,his sister, who we loved tremendously. I hope that his words help you as much as they have helped me. His sister loved him so much and I know that she would be extremely proud of the beautiful, sensitive, talented man that he has become.

  • Alice says:

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful young woman.

  • Dawn says:

    Dearest young man, my heart aches as yours does. Your eloquent words express such deep feelings, they rattle my soul. Your grief is my grief except instead of a sister, I lost a dear brother. He is not here for me to comfort but I offer my warmest hug to you. My arms encircle you and give just a small squeeze. Keep your sisters memories close. Her laugh, her smile or maybe a wink. As long as you keep her close, she is always with you. Thank you for expressing your feelings from your heart.

  • Jack says:

    That was amazing. I lost two sisters with a little over a month apart in separate fatal car accidents. His words are so amazingly true, thank you for letting your feelings out for the rest of us that feel the same way. It’s funny how tragedy brings people together and shows those souls ensuring the pain what life and love truly means. There is a moment in life that makes us feel “real” and here it is. Much support and love to everyone involved.

  • Sarah says:

    I am 22 and also lost an older sister. I often feel very alone so it was comforting to stumble across this and realize there is someone else out there feeling the way that I am. Thank you for sharing your feelings in such a beautiful way, they helped me a lot on a night when I was feeling especially low. I’m so sorry for your loss, keep writing.

  • Mable says:

    I lost my elder sister who was pregnant and expecting in 2 weeks, she had suffered miscarriages and this time we all knew it was going to work out. We shopped and packed ready for the new baby. We had X-mass at our parents home with all our husbands and families. Every family member was present and then we visited her on boxing day and she was very very okay. On 29/12/2010, she felt bad and on 30/12/2010 went to hospital because she had developed high blood pressure and the Nurse gave her strong Medicine not meant for pregnant women and in less than 30 minutes she was without life. Its been a month now but the pain is so so fresh like it was yesterday. Thanks for sharing your experiences. This brings comfort and encouragement.

  • Verna Clay says:

    First, my heart goes out to you and family in the loss of your beloved sister. Your poem is universal. Though written as an expression of the deep grief you are experiencing as a result of losing your beloved sister, your poem expresses the kind of grief anyone might feel due to the loss of a loved one but can’t find the words to express it. I’ve suffered the loss of many loved ones through the years; but none affected me as deeply as the sudden and tragic losses of both of my adult daughters in car accidents; though their deaths happened years apart. As I read your poem I felt as though I was walking beside you on your journey of grief; listening to all I was feeling; have felt; and no doubt will continue feeling as I continue my journey; through grief loss and healing~ though someday not so intense. You have been given a wonderful gift of writing healing poetry. Don’t hide it under a rock. Own it! Be proud of it because by owning it you may encourage more men to express their grief. Their is a great need for this in a society that doesn’t allow men to grieve openly. More men need to know we women need to know they experience deep grief just as deeply as women do. I could write a book on this topic and maybe I will someday. If you never write anything else; just know your poem above will continue to help others heal and what a loving tribute to your beloved sister. Peace & Blessings,
    Mother of 2 Angels who left us much too soon 🙁

  • Verna Clay says:

    Sorry, the word Their should be spelled There 🙂

  • Evan Rieger says:

    Thank you for all of your beautiful and heartfelt responses. Reading all of them over and over again has brought me to tears. I am so grateful that all of you took the time to read my piece and were able to connect with it on such a deep level. Although there is nothing worse than great tragedy, it really is a great comfort to know that I am not alone in my feelings. I am so sorry for all of your losses and wish everyone the best of luck.

  • Denise von Stange says:

    You have an amazing way with words. Your thoughts are expressed in such a way that not many can do. As Verna wrote above, men need to know that they too need to grieve and if writing is a comfort to you, you must continue writing. There is no right way to grieve. Everyone must find their own path. At some point you will be able to live life again remembering the good times you had with your sister. Give yourself time. Your sister IS proud of you.

  • Tabitha Jayne says:

    Wow – this is such a powerful piece of writing and really resonates with me. I see my brother as part of nature and connect not only with nature but with my brother everytime. This brings me so close to him that I don’t even feel like he’s dead. As my favourite quote from Charles Mackay says anyway “There is no such thing as death. In nature nothing dies. From each sad moment of decay some forms of life arise”

  • sadhna says:

    Thank You! I lost my elder sister who was just 27 on 4th December 2011. I was on my first International trip to Tokyo, Japan and I got this news from my family! Her tickets were blocked and she was coming to Japan to celebrate new year with me. We fought being siblings of the same age, but we loved each other beyond limits. She was completely healthy! A day before her death she went out for dinner with family and friends. She passed away in her sleep on her bed with two people sleeping next to her. My family realised after two hours. Life has left mysteries – did she call out, did she suffer pain, what had happened. In medical terms it was a cardiac arrest! Was my sister so week that she gave up in that one breath she could not survive. She was to get married soon… Life has lost meaning, where nothing holds importance! Every moment is so difficult. Her laughter echoes, on seeing these photos they form memories right in front of your eyes. Everyday I struggle to gulp down the fact that she is no more! The only inspiration for living, is that when I die I will get to hug her once more. The pain is beyond measure which no one understands. I wish I had held her hand and help her cross that tough span. Rachita – I love you and you are the worlds best sister! I wish I could tell you earlier!

  • Val says:

    Your words caught me on a very bleak day 3 years after the loss of my beloved sister. Your words brought me much comfort and I thank you for sharing them. I miss my sister so much, as I know you do yours, and I am so sorry for your loss. It reminds us what an important role siblings play in our lives, how much we mold and shape each other, how we fill in the missing parts of the other. No one really understands us the way our siblings do, no-one really “gets us” in that same way. As I watch my own children interact with each other, I smile, I know Tina is all around us, I feel her presence and yet, I long for the physicalness, her touch, her smell, to feel her arms wrapped around my neck, to see her golden hair shining in the sun, to see her smile one more time. That is the difficulty I wrestle with, the thing we all struggle with ……how to feel their spirit , recognize it and be comforted with that and to be able to let go of the physical. I don’t know if it ever gets easier. I just wanted you to know that your words helped me……THANK YOU! Namaste.