My sister died.
For a while I was ‘her whose sister died’ when I was being described to people who didn’t really know me and everyone would nod sympathetically ‘Ooooooh yes I know who you mean’
So how does it feel? I read all these blogs, medical articles and various comments about grief and what to expect. I’m yet to find one that really sits with me and my grief. I’ve come to realise that not a single article will ever give you the answers you seek. So this is MY grief and MY take on it.
1. Immediate responses are never what you anticipate.
When it first happened there was an instant sense of relief. That’s horrific, but my sister was suffering for so long that every single phone call led to me breaking down in tears wondering what the hell was going on. When she eventually passed, the phone calls stopped. The drives to the hospital stopped and someone pressed the play button on life again. I never thought I’d feel this way. I genuinely thought I’d be the wailing inconsolable drama queen that I’ve come to embrace in these situations.
2. Reality hits straight afterwards
In the family room the reality hit when the nurse was asking if we would like to donate my sister’s eyes due to her organs being contaminated. Just the thought of that made me realise we were not going to see her eyes (which were far too close together) sparkle with her daft smile anymore. In that instant I knew I couldn’t watch my sister be cremated and I voiced as much to my parents on the drive home. That was the reality. I couldn’t watch my little sister go behind those curtains. It was like a slap across the face at the very thought of it.
3.The numbness never goes away
I spent a long time feeling numb to everything that was going on. I got through the funeral, and returning to work on auto pilot. I still feel numb at times when I think of her and what she is missing. Numbness is the only way I get through life these days, shutting down that part of the brain that grieves daily. By embracing the numbness I’m able to raise 4 children and function like a normal human being.
The biggest part of grief is regret. I wasn’t there as my sister died because I had chosen to go to work. I missed saying goodbye, missed saying anything to her in her final moments. I will always regret that decision. I regret asking my parents to bury her. Now we have a shrine that my parents visit religiously and where myself and my siblings cannot bear to go as often as we should do. I regret not speaking at my wedding and saying something about my sister in a speech.
5.You hate that no-one is suffering like you
Life goes on and that sucks BIG TIME. You watch everyone else moving on, you mark every anniversary and see others ‘forgetting’. You realise that you are alone in the world of grief. You realise that your grief is so personal that you cannot be angry with others who do not grieve the same as you. And you feel like it is all slipping away. So many stories in the media make you angry, make you wonder why she isn’t here and those people are.
7. You change your belief system.
Not always to a religion, but what you believe about life shifts. For me, I believe strongly in fate. There is a master plan and we are all living it, with no choice of how it will go. It is pre-ordained from the moment we are conceived. I don’t know who is calling the shots or why the outcomes are different for everyone but that is the only explanation as to why my sister was taken aged just 24. I believe she had a higher purpose, watching over my tiny nephew when he was born and ensuring my twins were born when they were in order to save all 3 of us.
Stop looking for answers in others’ articles and words. Instead, spend time with yourself and accept your grief. Does it get better in time? No, you just learn how to mask it well. Talk about your loved one often, enjoy your memories and share them. It helps, it makes you smile at those memories and embrace the aching in your heart. You’ll never forget, you’ll always hurt and the MISS will hit you like a brick when you least expect it. But guess what? It’s ok. I promise you, it’s ok.
In October I will be shaving my head in memory of my sister, Natalie. Click on the link below for more details 😀