Grief is a fate that we all have to face at some point in our lives. It is an inescapable truth that comes with living and loving during our time walking the earth, and I am here to say that it sucks.
Grief is the worst possible thing I have ever had to deal with. There is nothing worse than feeling like a part of you has been stripped away and knowing that there is nothing that you can do to get it back.
Even worse was having to experience grief as a young girl and carrying it throughout my life.
When I was three, my mom and dad told me that I would be getting a baby. A few months later, I found out I would be getting a baby brother, and I had never been more excited. A real-life doll to play with is something that not many other girls in my playgroup had.
I excitedly awaited the arrival of ‘my baby and bragged at every chance I got that I would be a big sister. I prepared everything as best I could for my baby brother and made sure that my mom knew that I would be perpetually available if she needed any help with the baby.
When my baby brother was born in June of 2000, I was ecstatic. I went to the hospital to meet him and handed my grandmother my pacifier, letting her know that I no longer needed it as I was the big sister now. I held my baby brother and sang to him (a song we still sing when remembering him) and told my parents that I loved him.
Nine days later, I kissed my baby brother goodbye for the last time ever. My mom held him out to me and told me to kiss him goodbye, and when I asked where he was going and if he was coming back, all my mom could do was cry.
My brother passed away because he had a hypoplastic left heart, which means that his heart never fully developed. He would have had to go overseas for an operation but might not have survived the flight. My parents decided that instead of allowing him to suffer any longer, they would switch off the machines.
I cannot imagine the pain of switching the machines off on your newborn baby, but I can tell you that as the big sister, I was shattered. There was nothing that I could do to help, and help was all I wanted to do.
Shortly after losing my brother, my playgroup teacher told my mother that I was exhibiting some strange behaviors attributed to grief and that I should see a grief counselor. I started grief counseling almost immediately. The counselor told my mother that when something traumatic happens to a child, they forget everything surrounding the event or remember every last detail.
I remembered everything. I could recall the sights and sounds in the hospital, and I could relay information about the day he passed away in vivid detail. I still can. I see this as one of life’s greatest blessings.
The reason that I say grief is weird is that we all experience it differently. All she needed was her friends and some light support and a few conversations, and she felt okay for my mom. It was much more complicated for my dad, and all he wanted to do was speak to his counselor and pray. For me, grieving my brother is ongoing.
Some days I don’t think of him at all. Some days all I do is think about what life would be like if he were here, and some days, I am furiously upset that something so precious had to be taken from me when I was so young.
Every day I know that his spirit is with me. Grief is weird, grief is messy, grief is traumatic, and suffering is beautiful in that it shows you that you loved something so much that you are so profoundly affected by its loss.
I am grateful for my grief because I know it means that I had something so precious in my life that taught me so many things in the nine days that I had to experience it. We all experience grief in our way, and none is right or wrong.
All grief is simply knowing that you are part of something greater and that something greater was part of you.