It's been a hot minute since I've had a clear enough mind to sit down and write. Any creator will tell you that there are sometimes lulls in creativity. I recently trudged through mine. Now, here I am, ready to sit down and write something that I have been wanting to share for a while, but couldn't find the courage to do so. Well, I found the courage. Here we go!
Given the title, you are probably already well-aware of what today's post will entail. I truly did not want to mix words with this one. As you read on, you may or may not agree with my perspective. If you do agree, it might be because you have had a similar experience. If you disagree, it's because you are not me and you couldn't possibly understand my exact circumstances. I'm okay with that. Disagreeing isn't a bad thing.
Back in April, I lost my brother (you can read about it here). It completely turned my world upside down and permanently changed who I am. Although it has been the most difficult loss I have ever endured, it has changed me for the better. I actually really like who I am now. I'm not reserved. I do not hold back on pursuing my goals. I have been taking chances on things that could completely fail. I don't have a care in the world of peoples' opinions of me or what I'm trying to accomplish. Losing my brother put things into perspective and showed me that there are so many things in life that we dwell on that do not matter at all. Not. At. All.
But God, grieving him is a complicated mess.
See, he was a complicated person. He was extremely difficult and wasn't easy to love. He pissed off waiters and waitresses, managers, bouncers, employers, and strangers to name a few. He also pissed me off.
He could be rude and obnoxious. He swore way too much and he wasn't one to sugarcoat anything. He hung out with rough people who enabled him to do really shitty things. He spent much of his adolescence in jail and was in and out of trouble with the law, even in later years. He didn't always treat our family with respect, something that I'm sure he now knows.
If he didn't get his way you could very well be met by Taurus the bull, which was his astrological sign, ironically. Most of his choices were ones that I didn't agree with. He would tell me he was going to do something and my reoccurring thought was usually, "why the hell would you do that".
I didn't understand him.
My brother was such an angry person. In his eyes, the world was against him. He thrived on conspiracy theories and only trusted a select few people in his life. I was one of them.
However, when he passed, we had not seen each other or spoken in over two years. It was a very complicated situation, but what it boiled down to was this: in his last few years of life he made choices that caused me to retreat. We were living completely different lives, and in order for me to thrive in mine, I needed to step away from his.
See, I spent most of my life trying to protect him and defend his actions. It came to the point where I couldn't do it anymore, and so I didn't.
So, let me ask you this: how do you grieve someone with whom you weren't speaking? How come it hurts so badly? I have a very simple answer:
My brother, through all of his flaws and idiosyncrasies, taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. Yes, I have children and I love them unconditionally. But, they are easy to love. My brother was difficult to love, he didn't always treat me the best, he made rash decisions, pissed me off, and yet I would have jumped in front of a bus for him. My last message to him was telling him that I loved him unconditionally and that when he was ready to talk, I was ready for him. He never did reach out. Several times a day I find myself devastated that we never made things right before he passed. I now know that we weren't supposed to. Our lives just couldn't intertwine anymore. That knowledge doesn't take away the hurt though.
Grieving him is an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I love him and miss him to the point of physical pain in my chest. On those days, I remember the soft moments we had together, the ones where we were just siblings sharing laughs and memories. There were plenty of those. Other days, I can't even look at a photo of him because I am so mad at the choices he made. Most days, I feel a bit of both. It's exhausting.
Then there is the relief.
It feels blasphemous to say that there are days when I feel relieved that he has passed on. You might think I'm an awful person for saying it, but let me explain.
My brother was in pain. He might have never said it out loud or shared it with many people, but he was hurting inside. His life began with a loving mother and a severely abusive father. He endured this abuse during the most formative years of his life. Unfortunately, he carried that pain with him which caused him to become reckless, always searching for an escape. This led to mostly wrong choices. However, the worst outcome of it all is that he never loved himself. I always knew this. When I went to say goodbye to him in the hospital, while holding his hand I said, "It's okay my brother. I love you enough for the both of us". And it's true. My love for him is neverending.
I never have to worry about my brother again. I never have to worry that he will say the wrong thing to the wrong person and be shot. I don't have to worry every time the news lets me know that a body has been found or that there has been a major car accident. I don't have to guess where he might be living, because I know where he is now. I know that he is safe and pain-free. I know that he is somewhere surrounded by nothing but unconditional love and there is zero suffering. So yes, this provides me with relief.
I share this story because I know there are people who have complicated losses, ones that are not easy to speak about. I also know that grieving comes with complicated emotions, often made worse when the person was difficult. It's hard to be mad at the dead.
I'm here to say that it is 100% normal to feel all of these feelings at once.
Honor all of them, good and bad, because each one is part of your process. Grief is unique to the individual.
And please remember that the deceased were once living. They made decisions and did things that we didn't like. They were flawed humans. Their passing does not negate what they chose to do with their time on Earth.
My Brother, I still find things daily to be mad at you for. I love you anyway, always and forever.