My older and only brother passed away in December on his 34th birthday. He and I were very close. We never fought, even my mother says she never remembers us fighting. I feel blessed by this because I have no regrets or words left unsaid because we talked a lot and always supported each other. We had a great relationship and cared about each other so much. Although I feel lucky to have had this relationship with him, at the same time, the loss of that indescribable bond has crushed my heart. He was honestly the best person and loosing him has changed my whole life. There are so many things still left in my life that he was supposed to be here for. The birth of my kids, me graduating from school....I am essentially an only child now. This concept is entirely frightening to me. Who is going to be there when my parents pass away? I know I will have my husband, my own children and other family, but no one other than a sibling has the same bond with your parents as you do and no one would be able to comfort you like your sibling when they pass on. I always imagined that we would be there for each other. We had ideas of how things were going to be after I graduated from school and the trips we were going to go on together.

I am currently in veterinary medical school with only 2 months left until graduation. I came back to clinical rotations  in a way to honor him because he would have never wanted me to quit at anything and because I am so close to the end of an 8 year educational endeavor. The work has honestly helped me to stay focused and keep my sorrow at bay but I honestly do no believe I want to be a practicing veterinarian anymore. I actually have hated every minute of veterinary school and regret ever doing it but I pursued it because it was "expected" of me and I was somewhat pressured by family. My brother was the only brave one. He was the only one strong enough to follow his passions despite what our parents said, even though his passion ultimately took him away from us. My brother's passion was aviation. He was a pilot and was killed in a plane crash. He loved flying more than anything and he loved his job so much. My sister in law says she gets upset and nauseous whenever she hears or sees an airplane, but I actually find some comfort in it. I feel like he is keeping an eye on all of us from above and that he is flying up there with all of the planes.

My brother had 2 young sons, and everyone seems to think I'm crazy for wanting to help raise them vs. go take my dream  job and start my career. How could I possibly be that selfish? How could I possibly be able to move 500 miles away and just live my life and not think about them every waking second? I have loved those two little boys before they were even born. They are the only pieces of my brother that I have left and they look just like him. I want to be in their lives as much as possible. My brother had so many things to teach then, him work ethic, the qualities of his kind heart...I could go on and on. He taught we a lot growing up as well and I feel compelled to share those things with them too.

I know it will never get better, I know I will never be the same, but can someone tell me that eventually things aren't so confusing all the time? I feel conflicted and confused about my life all the time now. I'm confused about what I should be doing. Should my husband and I wait to have a baby? (we were hoping to start trying this summer) Should we travel more? Should I take that job even though I would hate it?  I have more questions than answers.

I know my brother would tell me to do what makes me happy and what I want to do, but I always find such opposition when I try to do that. When I mention that I want to come home to help raise my nephews, I get told that it is a silly idea. I honestly don't understand it. Don't people understand that my grief and the loss of my brother has out my life into perspective and that I have seen a bigger picture? I have seen that I don't want to waste my life doing something I hate? I am hoping I can channel my brother's outlook and not let the opinion others sway me. I am tired of doing things for others all the time. I am tired of being pushed to the brink of depression just to live up to vicarious dreams.  I feel like I need to do this to help heal myself and help my own process.

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Belle,

I feel your pain.It is so hard to deal with grief. I am a grief facilitator and was a nurse who sometimes helped to counsel bereaved persons. Then one day in October ,2008, I lost my brother and my best friend. I thought I was going to go crazy. I kept saying to myself, use the training you know for yourself. No, No, it did not work. He was 60. But today that is not old. So, your brother being 34 is just as bad as it can get. My suggestion to you about your career, is to do what makes you happy. If you and your husband come to some conclusion about your situation, nobody else has anything to say. I hope you find some peace. You will never forget him and sometimes the waves of grief will consume you, but it will go away until a birthday or holiday, and the waves will consume you again. It will get better, but you will alway remember. Peace and blessings to you on your journey.

Hello Belle:

I absolutely feel your pain.  My sister Lisa passed away at the young age of 49 from a long hard battle of 7 years with neuroendocrine cancer.  That was November 7, 2013.  Everyday I think of her and still write to her a letter each day letting her know what is going on here and how much I miss and love her.  I know she is now at peace with the Lord.  I think helping to raise your nephews is wonderful.  I try to stay very close to Lisa's children as well even though they are a bit older.  As for your career, being a veterinarian is so admirablel but it has to be what you want to do.  I am a professor of public health and always advise students to follow their passions-it might be good for you to finish your program but then use the degree in a way that makes you feel whole-you could go into academia for example and teach others or do a host of other things.  But I think after all the work you put into the program you might feel unfulfilled if you left. But again, please remember to try and find happiness for yourself and not to make many big decisions at this time in your life.  The pain of your loss will seem to lessen over the years but you will carry your brother with you in your heart forever.  I know he will be very proud of you.


Karen Liller


Thank you Karen and Claretha,
I will certainly finish school, because i agree that i would feel regret and disappointed that I was so close to the end. I have great classmates and supportive mentors so that is helpful.
I hope that in the coming months I can have a realization of what I am supposed to do in my life moving forward, because quite frankly I feel very lost at the moment. I have heard that one shouldn't make any radical choices for one year after a loved one dies. That was my plan, to take 6 months to a year to heal and then see where life takes me, but everyone keeps telling me to get back in the fast lane and do all these things and make all these plans. Why doesn't anyone see my sorrow or acknowledge my grieving process?
Thank you all for your support.

I think people are just uncomfortable with grief and sadness and think "getting back in the saddle" quickly will make things better.  But people need time to heal.  I am still processing what happened to my sister and always will.  Take it slow, take care of yourself, feel free to grieve, and things will improve.

I do wish you the best.



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