Grief and Loss and New Beginnings

Shortly after I put my blog back up, I experienced a tremendous loss. My younger brother passed away suddenly at the age of 38. When someone that young dies, especially someone who appears to be healthy and isn’t known to have any problems with substance abuse or mental illness, people will usually assume one of two things. They’ll assume it was a car accident, as I did at first, or suicide. In my brother’s case, it was neither. Up until recently, all we knew was that it was from natural causes. We now know that he had a heart attack caused by blocked arteries.

To say that this loss has deeply affected me would be an understatement. It has completely changed my world. This isn’t the first time I’ve lost a sibling. I have three brothers — twins from my father’s second marriage and one from my mom’s marriage to my stepdad. In 2010, one of the twins passed away from type 1 diabetes. Mark was only 30. It broke my heart, especially since I didn’t get much time with him throughout our lives. “The boys,” as we always called them, lived with their mother and then moved to Texas as adults. So I hadn’t seen them since they were 18. We kept in touch through phone calls and texts although not frequently. When he passed away, I grieved over the amount of time I didn’t get to have with him, in the past as well as the future. To this day, I think of him often and wonder what he’d be doing now.

With Joel, I had an entirely different relationship. He was ten years younger than I am and I lived with him for a lot of his childhood. Once we were both well into adulthood, we stayed in touch often even though we lived in separate states. It got to the point where we were texting almost every day, even if it was just something like sharing memes or funny dog videos. We had so much in common which gave us a lot to talk about, mostly movies and TV shows, football, family, dating, and how much we generally disliked people. Our last conversation was so trivial, something about eBay and being able to log into PayPal with more than one email address. Not the kind of thing you talk about if you had any way of knowing it might be the last time you spoke to them.

Losing my brother completely shattered me. I functioned on autopilot a lot of the time. We didn’t celebrate Christmas. I cried every day and I still cry on most days. Usually on the car ride home from work where nobody can see me. My attitude towards living healthy went to shit. It seemed pointless to eat healthy food and go to the gym if a 38 year old man who does all of that can still just die all of a sudden. All of those stages of grief aren’t really stages at all. You don’t go from stage one to stage two then stage three. It’s all over the place. Sometimes I go through bouts of anger, sometimes depression, and some days both. Denial and bargaining aren’t much of an issue anymore but they do still pop up once in a while. This pain is never going to go away but I will learn to live with it because I have no choice.

So the Universe gave me a cruel set of bookends for the 2010s. I started it with losing one brother in February of 2010 and ended it with losing another brother in December of 2019. And of course we also lost my youngest daughter’s father somewhere in the middle of it, in December 2015.

I tried to come into 2020 with a better attitude. I’m afraid to say that it has to be better because it couldn’t be much worse because I don’t want to jinx it. I do take medication to manage my depression but I’m also putting more effort into other forms of taking care of my mental health. One of those methods is working on more gratitude and less negativity. I’m also doing more activities that bring me joy like going to the movies, reading, and doing crafty or creative stuff. Writing is also part of it too, including my blog. And when it comes to my physical health, I’ll be going back to the gym again and working on making healthier choices.

If you’re reading this and you’re one of the people who knew me before my brother died, I appreciate you sticking around. I was pretty distant and probably hard to be around and I may have missed some important events. For that, I apologize. I’m glad you’re still here and thank you for reading.

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