We all know that grieving is hard but when you add a whole bunch of other things to that grieving process, it makes grieving even harder. Aside from dealing with all the financial stuff for my brother now that he is gone (hospital bills, contacting social security, making sure his medical bills are paid, dealing with his estate – not that there was much, etc.), the hardest part has to be trying to minimize the void in my mother’s life. Not only was my brother there for my mother financially, he was there for her emotionally. He helped her get through a lot of tough times and when the going got tough; he was the one by her side – not me or any of my other siblings. He gave her my reasons to be hopeful after my dad died and even when he struggling with his own inner struggles, he still managed to give her hope. I have big shoes to fill but it is a promise I made that I will do everything to fulfill. The problem is I am standing alone.
You know those people that say that they will help but when it comes time to step up they stay in the sidelines and watch? That is how my siblings are. I know it is not intentional but this is how they handle grief. They feel helpless and as a result, they don’t know how to step up. My mom told me yesterday that she knew that was the only one that she could rely on now that my brother is gone but despite that, I know I have big shoes to fill and even if I could fill those shoes, it would not be the same.
My siblings are the way they are and I can’t change that and asking them to step up means nothing but words. Of my siblings that live nearby, my older sister grieves by shutting the door, my married brother pretends that our lives haven’t changed, and my baby brother, he has a lot on his plate right now considering he left college to come home and deal with the situation we were in. He promised our late brother that he would finish college and that is a promise that I will make sure he keeps.
I went to the cemetery yesterday afternoon even though it was cold and snowy and I was sick. I needed to be close to my brother and talk to him about how overwhelmed I was feeling and how I knew that he knew that I would be the one who would try to feel his shoes. I told him that they were big shoes but I would do everything I could to get close. See, I may be the strong one in the family who knows how to hold it together but he was the one who knew how to best hold my mom together. I help her feel strong but he let her lean on him when she needed to fall apart and then, he would pick up the pieces. While I would love to give her that, I can’t because if she falls apart so will I. There are so many things I am doing because I know that this is what he would have done or how he would have handed a situation. It is process like anything else and grieving makes it harder.
I know that no one really expects me to fill my brother’s shoes but my mom needs someone to get close enough so that she can make it through. I wish I could fill that emotional void that my mom needs right now and I can’t because I am too tough to allow her to fall apart. That is probably the one thing I cannot do for my brother and I am sure that none of my other siblings can offer her that either. I can however do that what he asked which was to make sure that Kam finishes college and that mom has someone to lean on regardless of how emotionless I can be – unfortunately, that is how I cope.