How Losing My Sibling Meant Losing A Part Of Myself

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 Stolen Sunshine.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

    • 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!

      -Kady

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

      -Kady

  5. 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!

      -Kady

  6. 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.

      -Kady

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

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