My mother had a 3 story house that is broken into one studio apartment with a bathroom in the basement, a 2-bedroom duplex on the first and second floor. I lived in the studio apartment, my mother and sister shared the first floor and my brother had the second floor duplex. We all lived there like one happy family. It’s hard to believe that 4 adults could live together and get alone but we did.

On June 23rd my sister and I were awaken by a knock on the door. My sister is a chaplain at one of the local hospital in our city. So when she say a police officer and a chaplain at our door she knew someone was dead. She called me from downstairs. The officer told me that my brother had fallen from a second story balcony and broke his neck which led to his death. He has just turned 53 years old 11 days before that.

My mother was out of town visiting with her sister. So we had to figure out a way to tell her long distance. My aunt called her pastor and they delivered the news to my mother. We buried my brother a week later after Mom returned home. It was such a shock to us all because my brother had struggled with drug addiction for many years but had been clean for 2 years and was doing well. We would have expected it 3 or 4 years ago when he was on the streets.

Since my brother’s death, my mother decided I should move into his apartment. So we started fixing it up for me. On Saturday, July 14th my mother came upstair and just wanted to be with me while I was painting. She didn’t say much except that she was tired and wanted to see her boys. (my other brother died 15 yrs ago) Later, we said our good nights and went to bed.

The next day was Sunday and Mom and I had planned to go to my church together, then dinner, then shopping. At about 7:45 in the morning my sister was screaming my name from the basement stairs. When I got to the bottom of the stairs something in her face told me my mother was gone. In her bedroom I found my mother comfortably cuddled in her bed and surrounded by her many pillows but cold as ice.

She was my friend, my confidant, my hanging buddy and dinner companion. And I was her “baby”. I still have a hard time believing that she is gone even 6 months later. I never realized how much she was a part of my life. My life is and will never be the same. I thought I couldn’t live through the death of my big brother and then my mother died too.

The bible says that He will not put more on us than we can bare. And He will never leave or forsake us. So to me that means no matter how hard we think a thing is, God will be with us through whatever comes our way.

Drs. Gloria and Heidi Respond

Dear Zola,

We are so very sorry for your double loss. No words can fill up the empty space left by the deaths of your brother and mother and give you the comfort you need. Six months is a very short time, a time to be gentle with yourself while healing takes place. There is no time frame on grieving and there is no right or wrong way to do it. We each grieve in our own time and our own way.

We encourage you and your sister to find a grief group in your area, perhaps in your church, because we have found that the burden of grief seems lighter when you do not have to carry it alone.


Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley

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