there are no words for how this feels, truly, but as words are kind of who I am, I have to try.
How this feels
Devastating. I can’t explain the feeling any better. So heartbreaking that, at times, it’s physically painful. My grief crosses the line from emotional pain into tangible, physical pain. I am so sad that my grief has no outlet but to attack my body. My heart, that organ that really has nothing to do with love (that’s the brain’s job) feels as though it could crack.
Sickening. Sometimes I am overcome with nausea. There is a sick green tinge to my view of the world. It colors my perception of everyday events.
Guilty. To care for myself feels awful. How can I rest, eat, or enjoy a relaxing moment when my brother is gone? It feels wrong. I know what you’re thinking: that he wouldn’t want that for me. I agree. And yet I cannot stop this thought process. How dare I enjoy life at all?
Lonely. He is part of me. He is my history. He was with me for first half of my life. He is in every happy memory of my childhood. He is in my blueprints for the future. I feel empty, lacking. I am alone, my parents’ only child on Earth. It is overwhelmingly lonely to think of life without him.
Changed. My brother’s death has sucked the joy from my life. Everyday moments that I would have enjoyed are flat. Food doesn’t taste as good, sleep doesn’t satisfy my exhaustion, and nothing feels right.
Fragile. The world is full of land mines of grief that I may stumble upon at any time. His handwriting. A food he loved. A song my dad had on a mixtape for a road trip we took. Before I know it, I’ve detonated a memory and I’m left with what remains. Shrapnel, pain, and loss.
The hardest part is to see my parents, grappling daily with this overwhelming loss. It hurts. I think about situations I’ve known of, and how inadequate I felt for dealing with them. The loss of a child has to be the hardest thing on earth. I didn’t want this for them. I wish I could take it away.
Angry. I determined to find out what happened to my brother. I want to know who he was with and what they did to him. Why my parents have to go through this hell. Why we are trapped in a nightmare that will never end. I don’t want to be deprived of him for this life. It’s just not fair.
Powerless. I want a time machine. I want an “undo” button. I want to know who I can appeal to for a revision. This can’t just be it. I can’t watch all of the hurt around me idly–I have to do something to make it better. But there is no making this better. I can’t reverse it. I can’t argue my way out of it.
Anxious. The anxiety, I’ll admit, surprised me. It hits me each night with a velocity that I do not expect. Can I handle this? How long will I feel this way? Will I survive these feelings? Can I be strong for my parents, my husband, my children? Can I live in a world without my brother in it? Will I ever be happy again?
This is the last text message exchange I ever had with my brother, from a phone I know nothing about. Did he have my number memorized? As always, he could reach me, but I couldn’t reach him. I had just sent him a handwritten list of Bible verses on surviving rough times. Did he get my reply?
For a pain this deep, this is no antidote and no relief. I let it wash over me, wave after wave of emotion. Sometimes I think I’ll drown, and other times I hold my hand out, trying to pull another lost soul to safety. I don’t know if I can do either, or neither. And I don’t know which idea scares me more.