It happened one bitterly cold night in January 2011. It was sudden and violent. It took our family by surprise as most tragedies do. We all vacillated between denial and shock. I cried out in anger and in sadness. I begged God to give me back those few minutes before it happened. I would have done anything to change it. There was no way I could see myself accepting this to be true. I had no idea how to even think about it, much less feel. I was at a total loss. I wanted to make it right, I wanted to change the fate of that night.

A year later and I still find myself on a roller coaster of emotions. I looked up the stages of grieving and realized that I had gone through all of them, some more than once. Some days I lash out in anger and yet I can still smile and laugh a moment later. Other days I don’t want to get out of bed. I bargain with God to give my brother back to me. Words like “If I had just said something different, if I had just asked for more time, I would give anything to undo what has been done”. I tell him I miss him everyday, yet I am angry he’s gone. There is a monumental hole in me that I can’t seem to fill. I can’t run my pain away, I am just left exhausted. I lift weights to feel intense muscle fatigue just so I can sleep at night. I make attempts to talk out my feelings even though most times I am not sure what I am trying to say. One minute I pretend it didn’t happen, the next minute I am faced with a blaze of reality that cuts deep each time I look at it in the face.

My children noticed a change in me. I was told that I had lost my spark. I had temporarily lost my love of life. I am not sure I knew me in those moments. I think I was walking this earth just existing, not really living. I tried to find joy in everyday. I love my husband and my girls very much but even they saw that I was easily angered and could cry easily. They knew my loss had taken me away from them and although they reached out and hugged me, it only provided temporary relief from my inner anguish at that time.

This episode was the end of my relationship with my older brother Dan. He walked out of my life for good, after a heated disagreement and refuses to acknowledge that I am alive. I am dead to him. He was in my house one minute and then I never saw him again. I was left feeling the grave sadness of a loss. A loss of my older brother, a loss of our childhood that seems to no longer to exist. I feel the loss of our future of growing old together. My children lost their uncle and have no idea what could be so wrong that he doesn’t communicate anymore. I have lost out on the present of our families being close.

Our family is broken and completely dysfunctional because of this loss. No one has answers and everyone has blame. No one can reach him and we are all mourning the loss of his place in the family.

We don’t think of grieving the living. In fact, before I sat down to write this article I spent hours researching grieving the loss of a loved one that is living and all I found was a ton of articles helping me prepare for the death of a loved one. There was very little about how to grieve someone whom was still breathing, living and functioning a normal life less than 6 miles from my house. No one had any suggestions on handling the death of my relationship with my brother when he walked out of my life. He had decided that I was dead and whatever we had built from the day we met as children was dead too. I had nowhere to turn for ‘expert’ advice. This death felt as real as another death except with much more confusion, unanswered questions and bewilderment. I asked questions I had no answers for. I wanted answers to questions I was too afraid to ask. I was feeling lost and wanted to not feel so broken over this anymore.

All I felt I could do was read. I was searching for answers; I was searching for something that could help me understand exactly what I was going through and how to heal. I read as much as I could about the subject of grieving. I had just finished reading a fabulous book entitled “ When Bad Things Happen To Good People” By Harold Kushner. I learned so much about the process of accepting all kinds of pain and how to reason through terrible tragedies. He masterfully helps the reader (me) understand and process the pain through several different and very real perspectives. He then questions our (the people in grave pain) need to blame and resent God in a cry for help. All things I had done in the last year. A huge sense of relief washed over me. I felt as though I was heard and understood at the same time. Finally I was no longer alone. This book gave me a sense of support as the author walked through several very real stories of other’s personal tragedies. Before reading this book I knew bad things happened to good people. I am 38 years old. I am a good person and I have had my share of difficult things happen to me out of no wrongdoing of my own. I just accepted that it was fate. These bad things were God’s way of testing my faith, my strength and teaching me a lesson I needed to learn.

I see things much differently now. This book opened my eyes to the possibility of the universe’s randomness. I never believed that things could just happen. I thought everything happened for a reason. EVERYTHING.

My new awareness gave me some inner peace for the first time in over a year. Harold Kushner allowed me to understand my pain in a different way and then, let my pain go. I went from one extreme feeling that “this was supposed to happen to me, and I needed to take on the responsibility of the pain and fix it” to realizing that my brother’s solution to cut me out of his life was not my lesson to learn. There was no value in me taking on the responsibility and pain of that. I just needed to let him go. Let go of the outcome. Let go of the pain.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah was born in Boston, MA, raised in New York City and graduated from the University of Connecticut with two degrees. She obtained her degrees in Communications and Psychology. Through her own personal tragedies and struggles Sarah married young and had two beautiful girls. Even though her marriage failed, her devotion to her graduate education and her girls was unsurpassed. With her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in analyzing foreign markets, and a new career opportunity in MD, she moved to MD where she met and fell in love with Enrique. Today, Sarah lives in Maryland with her husband and their children, researching, writing and publishing articles and books.