Losing Part of Myself
It goes without saying that sadness and despair have been part of my grief journey. Losing a sibling is so jarring. When Dan died, I lost not only my brother, but a part of my past, my present, and our future together. I was also losing part of myself and my identity in the world.
Since he was my only sibling, Dan was the only person who could corroborate what it was like growing up in our home. In past years, I would frequently reach out to Dan to reminisce or to confirm my memory about a shared experience.
“Do you remember when…?” is a question we often shared. The question allowed us both to confirm our experiences and the details that had started to fade with the passage of time. After speaking with other siblings, I am sure that we were not alone in this bond we shared regarding past experience.
When I lost Dan, I lost the access to some of those shared experiences and the joy of reminiscing.
Losing My Innocence
I also lost my present. I lost several years to grief. My joy vanished. I lost my naiveté and my ability to look at the world with a view of optimism. Depression tainted my ability to be active in things I had previously enjoyed. I lost time.
With regard to the future, there is deep sadness in knowing that the future I had envisioned with Dan by my side will no longer come to fruition.
I will no longer be able to see him perform. We will no longer share those laughs over the holiday table. He will never call me to ask for parenting advice or to invite me to attend a school event for my beautiful nieces. And he will not be by my side as I walk with my parents through their 70s and, God-willing, their 80s and beyond.
He will not be with me to celebrate high school and college graduations, to attend band and orchestra concerts, weddings, funerals, and all that this life will bring. My future has been forever altered by his absence, and still today, this realization brings tears to my eyes.
Finally, I lost part of my identity when Dan died. Am I still an older sibling if my younger sibling is gone? Am I still a sibling at all?
I have spoken to many grieving siblings, and one of the toughest questions for many is the question about family. “How many siblings do you have?” people ask.
Many have pondered how to answer this question in the aftermath of sibling loss. Do I still say I have a brother? Or had a brother? Do I avoid the whole conversation and change the subject?
This question of change in family placement, family relationships and family dynamics is one I wish was discussed more openly. I found deep sadness in the shifting sands of my position in the family, and I know I am not alone.
Amy K. L. Busch is the author of Permission to Grieve: A Journey from Sibling Loss to Restored Hope: Busch, Amy K L: 9781736121702: Amazon.com: Books.
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