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Friday, August 1, 2014

Dealing with Loss

About a year and a half ago, my brother and I shared three short sentences that broke our relationship - now, I've lost him.

There is a big, huge story to go along with that sentence, but the details aren't important.  The point is, you can lose someone even when they are still here.  My whole family has lost someone... yet he lives 20 minutes away.

When loved ones pass away, there is a mourning period.  It lasts a long time, but it is accepted in society.  It is difficult and loved ones never forget.  But there is something in place to facilitate the healing.  There is nothing comparable to the loss from death... but there are other kinds of losses.  When a couple decides to divorce, there is no real system for mourning the loss, although, friends and family may drink more frequently with you... but I digress:)  When you lose a sibling's 'sibling-ness' (I know that is not a word but how else do you describe it?), there is no system to mourn... and there is no 'proper' way to even let it be known that this is happening.

Blogging probably isn't the best way either.  But I have a message to share.

I still love my brother very much.  He is a wonderful person and deserves love and happiness. Thankfully, he is still here on this earth and I can continue to hope that the relationship will heal and he will want that at some point too.  That makes it much, much easier than death.  But it's still loss.

One of the things I am thankful for is mindfulness.  Although I knew this already.... I have truly learned that I need to accept that I cannot control others' decisions or behaviours.  I can control my response to them.  For a long time, I tried hard to 'fix' things.  I cried every time my efforts were in vain.  I took all the blame for everything and accepted all the anger sent to me... and now looking back, I realize I was putting way too much on myself.  My heart broke a little more almost every day.  I apologized over and over for my words and any hurt I caused - without any reciprocation of accepting my apology.  And I continued to be the only person trying to fix the relationship.  I was very unkind to myself and beat myself up daily.

Until one day.

The moment of truth came at Christmas.  In my history, that was a time for family to express their love even more than other times throughout the year.  It was typically a fun, silly, loving time.  I believe I grasped onto the idea that things would get better during Christmas because it is that kind of time.  But that didn't happen.  Instead, I realized I had no control and was trying to control.  And I was not being compassionate to myself.  I was trying to be compassionate to others involved.... but without that compassion for myself, the compassion for others was not quite there.

And I began to let go.

I stopped trying to fix it.  I began a journey of accepting that things are the way they are and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change someone's mind or help them if they don't want to be helped... and who am I to believe they need help anyway?  If he is happy and healthy, then that's all that matters, right?  And if he is not, it is not my responsibility to fix it or change it.  It's not even my responsibility to keep trying to have a relationship if he continues to push me away.

This journey is not easy.  I've lost the person that grew up with me.  I was the first person he confided in about his divorce.  His brain tumour.  His decision to move away to Alberta when he was 20 years old.  He slept on the floor by my bed when I cried all night because my first love broke my heart.  We always had each other's backs.  No matter what.

And now we don't.

So accepting that I have to let go of my clinging to wanting a relationship with my brother is not easy.  However, I've come closer to accepting it... and now I'm working on letting go of the need to have what I think I need in order to be happy.

He is my brother.  He is on this earth.  I send him and his family love every day.  It's true... he is physically in the world.  But this is loss.  When you lose something, it is not in your life anymore.  And trying to make that person or thing be in your life when you don't have control over it being in your life is simply suffering.

I wish for love and happiness and peace for my brother.  I also wish it for me.  And I live my life that way.  It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.  I am here with open arms if he ever needs me or wants me.  But I live my own life fully and happily... and I have a lot of people around me that love me and whom I love.  I put my energy into that.  And I do what I can to show compassion for my brother and realize that he has his perception of things that I can't understand unless he decides to share.  Right now, that's all I know how to do.

It doesn't mean I don't hope for things to change.

We are very lucky to still have hope.  My hope is that my brother changes his mind on needing or wanting his family before we no longer have hope.  Because hope is gone once one of the people involved is gone.

So I will continue to be love.  Send love.  Hope for love.  Every time anger, sadness, defeat, or hurt rises, I sit through the feeling and allow it to pass.  Then I conjure up compassion and love.  For me.  For him.  For his family.  For our family.  And I sit in that before carrying on with my day.

And that's how I'm dealing with loss.