If you’re anything like me, you grew up in a fairy tale, surrounded by siblings who stood ten feet tall. You grew up with parents who were as brave as superheroes. You grew up naïve to the world around you.
Don’t get me wrong; I was well aware of what the news never failed to talk about. I knew that mothers and fathers could lose their battle with cancer. I knew that children could get kidnapped. I knew that houses burned down and car accidents happened almost everyday.
But I had created a world where my family was untouchable – where nothing could ever happen to them.
Because they were mine.
Five years ago a police officer knocked on our front door. It was 10 o’clock at night and I had just gotten ready for bed.
“There’s been an accident. You need to come to the hospital right away.”
By this point I had seen enough TV shows to know this was not what you wanted to hear from a police officer…especially not at a 10 o’clock at night and especially not when your older brother still hadn’t made it home.
I lost a brother that day. I lost a cheerleader, a mentor, a best friend.
The safe space I had created so easily disappeared and I was left to tackle the world without the one who had always paved a path before me.
There’s no word to describe the loss of a sibling. If you lose a spouse, you’re a widow. If you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. But if you lose a sibling, you just become the girl who lost her brother.
My therapist described it as a losing a limb – if someone tells you it gets better with time, they’re lying to you. Yes, cuts get better and wounds do heal. But when you lose an arm, it’s foolish to await the day that it “gets better”; you simply learn to live with one arm. I learned to do the things I know he would have liked. I learned to listen to the songs we sang together in the car without breaking down in tears. I learned – and I am still learning – to function normally without him just a phone call away.
However, “normal” has lately been like a blanket too short for a bed. Sometimes it covers you just fine and other times, it leaves you in the cold, shaking. And I’ve come to find the worst is that I never know which one it’s going to be when I wake up.
It’s been almost five years since that day. Some days the ache is a little less than before, but on others it makes me want to lock myself in my room. And some days still, I am stuck in what feels like a void.
There is no statute of limitation on grief. There is no time limit to waking up crying or having to leave the grocery store because you see their old friends. There is no special cure for those dull aches in your heart that don’t seem to ever go away. But coming from a sister who thought she would never find the light again, know there will come a day when the thought of that loved one brings a smile to your face instead of leaving you gasping for a breath that you cannot find. There will come a day when you find yourself talking about them and you do not feel uncomfortable. There will come a day when the universe sends you a sign to let you know that they’re doing okay.
And there will come a day when the 19 years you got with them becomes enough for the 19 more you’ll never have.
As I’ve come to find, there is no other love like the love for a brother and no other love like the love from a brother. And if you’re lucky to have a brother who is also your best friend, that love is going to cover you during the best of times and, no matter what, hold your hand through the worst.
Featured image via Matheus Bertelli on Pexels
Oh my goodness! You speak such a truth! I find comfort in your words as I sit here bawling over the loss of my own sister at the age of 22. I can recall that day as if it were yesterday. I can relate to your analogy of losing an arm. It never grows back, you never recover, but you adapt to living without that arm and learn to function in new ways. Kady I am so sorry you had that experience but your clarity in processing that experience helps me and I am certain it helps many others who have similar losses.
Thank you for this. My brother too was my best friend. I lost him thanksgiving day of 2014.
So sorry. I lost my son that very same weekend.
I’m so thankful you got the chance to read my piece, Mrs. Terje! You have always been a source of strength and hope for me and I’ve admired the way you hold yourself through life since my first Girl Scout meeting with you. Thank you for your kind words and for reminding me why I write and share my stories!
I just want to say that I’m not sure if it was the time for him to go
This speaks to my soul, over 4 years ago I lost my older brother to a tragic accident. He was 23 and I was 22 and we were very close. These words really spoke to me and how I feel and have been feeling.
I’m sorry you had to experience the loss of your brother, it is something I do not wish upon my worst enemy.
I lost my little brother August 7 2015 like you I never thought it would happen to MY family but it did no one is an exception it hurts so bad I wouldn’t wish it on anyone cherish your brothers and sisters every day tommorro is not promised don’t live with regrets tell them you love them every day I’m glad I did …I have other siblings who were fueding with my brother he was the youngest and I can see how much it is creating so much heartache and sorrow for them they don’t have closure and it hurts me to see them go through that pain…
It has been almost 12 yrs since I lost my little brother. I still have days where I think I need to call him and tell him what his niece did and then it hits. I still remember the call to come to the hospital. It never lessens you just learn how to live without that arm. I want to say thank you for this it is nice knowing there are other people that still miss that arm.
Whether it’s my five years or your twelve years, I know the ache will never truly go away, but I am thankful for the sweet words from people like you, who remind me why I write and why I share my story.
Thank you, Tami.
I really enjoyed reading this. I lost my oldest brother when I was 6 and I lost my other brother when I was 15, both in car accidents. I am now 27, and each day serves a new challenge. Thank you for sharing your experience and your growth. You have given me hope for happiness.
I’m so thankful to have been able to do that for you. I write not only for my own healing, but for others as well. I pray this new-found hope never fades for you!
Thank you for your beautiful words, your descriptions of sibling grief are perfect. I lost my little brother to suicide in February 2015. Just wanted to say thank you for the hope.
No, thank you for your kind words. My heart goes out to you, Chelsea. I know it’s the hardest thing in the world, but I pray that hope never goes away.
Thank you for understandings the loss of a brother, 18 months older. In Navy driving late at night ,hit bridge,cut car in half, and drug him,to other side.
Thank you for this. I lost my baby brother 2 months ago and some just don’t understand why I’m taking it so hard. Sometimes you feel like you will never conquer the happiness you once shared with your sibling. Thank you so so much for this!
My sibling is in heaven. I’ve been fighting for justice for him all of my adult life… https://www.facebook.com/notes/charles-jehu-stecker/my-name-is-eddie-ive-been-2-years-old-for-50-years/10152052003228733
Still a nightmare that I do not want to wake up to. Lost my younger brother on 11-4-2015 due to a motorcycle accident. Looked so forward to riding with him every time we had the chance which was never often enough. I don’t enjoy it anymore even though I put a smile on and try to have a good ride. Such a void in our lives. Hate to say it but feels much more than a limb.
I know exactly how you feel. I lost my younger brother when he was 24 years old. We’re 6 years apart. He was my only sibling and my best friend. I miss him so much it made me cry to read this article. He’s been gone a little more than a year and the grief has only started to subside. Holidays and birthdays are horrible. I am not as happy as I used to be. I miss not being able to call or text him every day after work to talk about something funny that happened in my day, to hear his voice on the phone or to hug him when we have to part ways. It’s a terrible feeling not having him close. I try to be happy and remember fun things about him so I don’t cry. I haven’t made it to that point yet. Some days it’s just unbearable!
I too lost my little brother (6 years younger) he was 11,and I was 17…. we shared a bedroom and were extremely close….I can so relate to how your feeling, I think of him every day, I think of all the things he has missed and how much my son is just like him, it’s been 31 years now and I miss him like it was yesterday. I can tell you what everyone does…. “it gets better” ….and it does, some…. but it will never be the same again. I’ll never be as happy as I once was, and I will never be the same as I was….but you do move on,live like they’d want you to, smile when they cross your mind or you hear that certain song…. I think it’s harder for us, when you lose your only sibling and are left the only child you spend the rest of your life stuck between the two….. I am no longer the older sister, but an only child now…. the article worded it perfectly… for 31 years now I have been (and always will be) the girl who lost her little brother…..
This hit so close to home. Your words bring comfort as I too lost my big brother almost a year ago. The tears still spill and the emotions are still raw. This is exactly how I described the loss of my brother. It’s like losing a part of yourself. http://www.laineyveltri.com/2018/02/he-could-barely-speak-yet-he-spoke.html?m=1
Like so many others your words describe how I also feel. It’s difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t lost a sibling. There are so many types of losses, none of them good, but each different in their own way. I’ve lost both parents, all my aunts and uncles now. But losing my younger sister, well, you know. She was 43 and I had to remove her from life support. It wasn’t bad enough that she became deathly ill unexpectedly, but because of the decisions we had made, and promises to each other, I was faced with such a terrible move. She’s been gone 8 years as of Easter weekend this year. Not a day goes by without my talking to her. Thank you for putting my feelings into such perfectly understandable words.
What a beautiful tribute, I lost my 17 year old daughter last summer due to a car accident and the void losing her has left for her 15 year old twin sisters is undescribable and so hard for others to understand. I will definitely be sharing this with them.
Yes, so very true. I lost my brother this past Labor Day weekend because of a hit and run. There is no title for a sibling losing a sibling. People don’t realize.
This sums it up right here. I lost my brother my best friend and everything thing you wrote ever emotion I have felt it’s very hard on days and some days are how you say barrable. I miss him every day every min. There isn’t a day that I don’t wake up and think about him. Thank you so much for this ❤️
I had to read this a few times because it was really hard for me. I lost my older sister/mom/best friend 2 1/2 years ago. It almost ended my marriage because it destroyed me. I’m still learning to go on and face the truth that she is gone. It is nice to know that there are people that understand the multitude of feelings of losing a sibling that you are so close to.
I literally just wrote those word sister/mom/bestfriend in a post. My sister was all those things to me. I lost my sister 9/15/15 to suicide and my mom died a week and a half later. At times I feel like my brain doesn’t work, that my arms are missing. I still pick up the phone to call my sister. We were 18 months apart, but very much like twins. Everyone thought we were. I still catch myself thinking “oh I need to call Tami and tell her”… then it hits me. HARD. It does get easier and this new normal doesn’t seem very normal. I’m trying to remember the great times, but my heart aches. I feel you. Hang in there.
Thank you. Thank you for putting it into words.
You put to words exactly what I’m feeling. I lost my mom months after losing my brother to cancer, but it’s my brother’s loss I feel so keenly. A lifetime of inside jokes, irritations, and stories is trapped in my mind, and three years later I sometimes want to scream because there is no one who will ever remember my brother the way I do. I can’t call him anymore, and it hurts in a way no one except someone whose lost a sibling will ever understand.
Ditto lost my older brother to cancer 13 yrs ago and my father 1 1/2 yrs ago also to cancer. Miss them both terribly ,but my brother was a friend and confidant in our adult lives, we did so much together as children . Reading this says it all nothing on earth replaces loss of sibling. Memories and sharing laughter with his sons or my kids of all the funny things he did and said helps, but there’s still an emptiness.
I was sent your article tonight from a close friend. You said everything that I have been feeling and not able to express in words. I lost my brother 2 months ago. He was happy. He had just gotten married in April and was on his honeymoon in the Bahamas and just like that….he was gone. He was my fun, he was my friend, he was so goofy, he was my brother. One person told me that I had another brother and so to hold onto that and “get over” my loss. I’m glad they think that the local store just hands out new siblings and if you have another, they just to replace them. Weirdly enough, I have been crazy drawn to sunflowers since his passing. It was super cool when I read your bio to see that you love them as well. Thank you so much for sharing your pain so that others may feel and love and grieve with you.
I could have written these exact words myself…there are so many parallels to your loss and mine. Thank you for saying so beautifully what I’ve felt for almost 16 years, since the loss of my brother. There is strength in knowing we are not alone in our grief, but such sadness in this painful connection that no one wishes to share.
It’s been 19 years since I lost my brother and I still feel so much pain. But I’ve also reached the point of being able to smile and laugh at memories. He’s my guardian angel now. Your words touched me so deeply. Thank you for writing this. ❤️
Having lost my brother almost 10 years ago now this couldn’t be more true. I was in 7th grade and he was 17 when he was in a car accident. Even though it’s been 10 years sometimes it still feels like it happened yesterday. Thank you for sharing!
I lost my brother 7 years ago. He was my 1st memory I was there the morning he was born, we were partners in crime and had such adventures as kids, as teenagers and young adults we shared and kept each others secrets and our weekly coffee ritual on occasion still has me putting out the mugs and biscuits if I’m distracted by something. Only to smile then sob when I realise what I’ve done. Everyone else seems to have accepted and moved on including my sisters and his wife but I grieve and the slightest thing turns me to tears. But hopefully 1 day I will only have the heartache and not the tears
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