This post has been sitting in my drafts for such a long time. It's something I want to talk about but I'm not sure how and I don't know if the words are going to come out right. November is a hard month by all accounts. The weather turns that little bit colder so that the wind just starts to nip at your fingers and the rain turns icy, the nights are so much longer and the lead up to Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time. November is the worst month in my calendar by far, it's an anniversary for my family and I but not one to be celebrated. On the 26th November this year it will be 3 years since my younger brother died. He was 21 at the time, he hadn't been ill, we weren't expecting it. It was huge shock and a massive loss.
I don't want to talk about the reasons behind his death, I want to remember him as he was, kind, funny and one of the best friends I've ever had. Although we bickered like cat & dog we had a bond only people with a sibling will understand. And the day that bond broke so did my heart a little. I was six months pregnant with Ava at the time and I truly believe that she saved me. I don't know what I would have done had I not had her to focus on.
“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
This post is incredibly hard for me to write as I don't like to talk about my feelings. I've always been one of those people who hates to cry in public and although I love to talk about my brother I never talk about how it's affected me or my feelings. The reason I am writing about it now is because, well sometimes it's good to get some things off your chest and I feel like grief is a subject not often broached. People seem to avoid it and it's almost become a taboo subject which it shouldn't be at all.
People say that grief comes in 5 stages- denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance, but for me it didn't happen that way. Although I still think I'm going through it, it's never something that you get over, you always bear the scars. As I was six months pregnant at the time it was an incredibly stressful time. I bottled up all of my anguish and grief and got on with it. After being rushed to hospital the day after my brother died with stomach pains I was terrified. I was told it was down to stress and I vowed for the sake of my child not to let my grief consume me. When Ava was born it was hard, having a newborn is difficult enough without all of the mixed emotions I was feeling. I was scared of getting post natal depression and willed myself to stay strong. I'm proud of myself for getting through that time but it was hard. What I've learnt is, grief never goes away, you get to a stage where you can cope with it but I'll never be able to stop grieving for my brother because I'll never stop loving him, and grief and love come hand in hand.
"If there ever comes a day where we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever."
- A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
The loss of my brother has changed me in so many ways. When I look back to 2011 I can't believe how upset I used to get over the smallest, most insignificant things. Nowadays I find it hard to accept other people's problems. I guess the loss has hardened my heart a little and when I hear of people getting upset about insignificant things I think "If that is really all you have to worry about then you are awfully lucky" but I have to remind myself that before all of this, I used to be the same. I also have to remind myself that I am extremely lucky and so many people have suffered much worse heartache than me. It's changed the way I behave as a mother, it's as though I'm constantly holding my breath, waiting, wondering what the next bad thing will be. I want to wrap Ava up in cotton wool and never let the wind blow on her but I know I can't do that. Grief has made me so much more aware of the fact that something can be taken away from you so quickly. Life is so fleeting.
But grief has also made me count my blessings. I'm so lucky to have had Nathan by my side throughout. He's always been my rock and I'll be forever grateful to him. It's made me appreciate my family, and my parents and I've realised how incredibly strong they are. It's made me appreciate the little things in life, to take a moment and look around because once a moment has gone, it's in the past.
Grief has also made me unafraid. I'm not afraid of dying because I know I'll have someone waiting for me when my time comes and I just can't wait to see him.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott