Grief: Does it Ever Get Better?
So I lived with my little brother in Santa Barbara, CA, in a little stucco house on the hill we called “The Cota House.” He was killed five years ago, a Friday evening in a motorcycle accident, coming home for a barbecue before we and a bunch of friends went to Ventura to see his band play. He was my best friend, and, when he died, the person I was spending all my time with. My day-to-day life was catastrophically disrupted.
The first few years were absolutely horrible. Lately, I can’t pinpoint exactly when, I’ve been feeling a little better. It’s taken so long to get to this point. I’m starting to feel like his death won’t destroy me. I’m trying hard to build a new life for myself. It’s complicated because it wasn’t just losing him--I also feel like when he died, my whole world got taken away from me. I loved Santa Barbara, loved the beach, loved to surf, and life had it’s challenges for sure but overall the set-up we had, it was pretty idyllic. None of that’s part of my life any longer and that in itself is so, so hard.
The way I generally cope with my brother’s death is to try not to think about it. Pretend it didn’t happen. But once in a while (well, often, if I’m honest) things happen that make it rise to the surface. Like yesterday evening an email inviting me to a bachelorette party for a friend who was there for me those first days and weeks and months. Her party’s the day after my brother’s death date. I’m going to go if I can because I love her and I really believe in celebrating every little thing you can in life, but I wonder how I’m going to be. And reading the paper this morning, I happened across an article that said Prince William's wedding will be held the day of my brother’s death. I’m really sensitive to dates, not just the day my brother died but the days right around that, I have such crystal-clear memories of everything that happened. Seeing those dates the pain comes back and it’s raw and awful, like no time has gone by at all.
I know time has healed me, at least to some extent. But sometimes I wonder if my brother’s death didn’t permanently break me in some very fundamental way.
In the end, I look at it this way. There are two choices: suicide, or to get up every morning and try to make the day a good one. Suicide is absolutely not an option for me, never was. So I get up each day and try.
Some days are harder than others. I’m feeling edgy today. But I have a lot of good and happy things planned for this lovely Sunday--finishing Christmas gifts for people I love, packing for my long-delayed honeymoon trip to Europe (we got married two years ago, leave Thursday), taking my dad to the airport, making my husband (a third-year engineering student) and the guys he’s studying for finals with chicken tacos for dinner so they can concentrate on thermodynamics or fluids or electronics or whatever they’re doing.
I pray for some happiness and peace today, as I do every day. We’ll see how the day pans out.