This is a financial education blog. But at the same time, it is my blog. A representation of who I am, what I believe in with an underlying power to create a community and platform to share my journey both personally and professionally with the hopes to make a positive impact.
I want to share this with you because loss will impact each and every one of us throughout our lives. Perhaps in varying degrees of “tragedy” but loss, nonetheless. And it’s important to me, to share this part of my life on my FinPowered Female Blog, because although it has nothing to do with finance, it has everything to do with me.
On November 4, 2012, my life as I knew it changed forever. This day nine years ago single-handedly changed the course of the rest of my life.
I got a phone call in the middle of the night from my parents to tell me that my older brother had passed away in a car accident. He was 29.
When I hung up that phone, I knew in that moment my life would never be the same. My older brother, my best friend and someone who I respected and admired for the entirety of my 25 years of life was no longer here.
Our relationship was built on respect, friendship and brutal honesty. He was my ultimate cheerleader and biggest supporter, my most trusted confidant and voice of reason. He watched out for me as older brothers do….but mostly, in the most loving way, he made me tough.
He treated me like there was no reason to ever be treated differently – boy or girl. Anything that he could do, I could do (Of course he preferred that I not do it better than him…and so the competitions continued..!)
He made me strong, physically and mentally. He didn’t lightly pass the ball to me or race and let me win. He didn’t rub it in my face, but he pushed me to pass harder, run faster, play stronger. If you want something, then give it your all and go get it. Stop whining about it, stop talking about it and just do it already.
He was my ultimate hype man with a healthy dose of reality check when I needed it.
He had faith in me. He supported me. He was proud of me.
He loved his little sister.
We grew up together, went to high school and college together – had mutual friends, mutual interests and a love for a good party and a dance floor.
And it simply did not occur to me, that I would ever have to live without this person.
I owe the better part of who I am to my brother. Both his impact on me while he was here and his impact on me as a result of him leaving.
Loss is life changing. It creates an emotional, physical and mental change in who you are that I cannot fully describe or even understand. In a 30 second window, let me try to explain…
Think about this. Who do you call when something goes wrong? Or when something amazing happened? When you need a good reality check or when you’re just bored and want to chat? Who cheers you on when no one else does? Who kicks you in the butt when no one else will? Who is a piece of who you are? Who LOVES you…like genuinely would not want to live without you?
A person who you don’t remember or want to remember a time without.
Then one day. That person is no longer that person you call or reach out to. But not because you’ve replaced them. But because they aren’t here.
And you come to realize that void is here to stay. No one will love you in the way that they did. A piece missing in your heart never to be filled again.
You feel it a little right now reading it, don’t you?
And I don’t share this with you to make you feel bad for me. In fact that’s the opposite of what I want this eventual blog post to create is sympathy.
But rather an understanding that life is made up of a chain of events, good and bad that will impact us for the remainder of our lives. And despite the heartbreak, the sadness or the struggle, we have to be reminded that we are still living.
I can tell you honestly that I hit rock bottom for a solid 6 months after my brother passed away. Everything went black. I was completely numb. I look back on that person and don’t even recognize her.
But I started to come back to the surface. I looked around me and saw people that loved me, a life ahead of me that was still worth living.
And what an absolute slap in the face to my brother if I was to spend all my time being sad, feeling sorry for myself and not embracing the reality that I am able to live.
I mourn the family he never got to have, the adult life he never got to live, the Uncle he would have been to my boys and the ongoing friendship between him and I daily. The sadness over the loss of my brother will never go away, the grief for the future life my brother never got to live will never magically disappear. Loss, is felt forever.
But you have to move forward with the life you’ve been given, give it your best shot and bring those guardian angels along for the ride with you in spirit.
It will take time. Give yourself and those around you who are experiencing loss some grace. Adjusting to your new normal is not only challenging but it will be a reminder of your heartbreak.
But I am here to tell you that you are stronger than you think.
You will never be ok with losing the person you love. But you will be ok.
I am not a mental health professional, but unfortunately I do have experience in the area of loss. There is not a “best practices” book on how to grieve. No checklist that I could create or read about to get myself out of the spiral I saw myself going down emotionally.
But if there were a few things I could say to someone who is experiencing loss it would be this….
You heal however you heal. You take the time you need. You cry as much as you need to. You talk about it as much as you need to. Or don’t at all. Seek out professional help or connect with others who have been through something similar. Or don’t.
Do not for one second think that it’s supposed to be a certain way or that you are supposed to do a certain thing. This is your loss. Your heart. YOU are hurting.
Take the time you need. One day at a time. Don’t rush yourself and don’t let others rush you.
But also remember, you have a life to live. No, it won’t be the same. But it can be a wonderful life still if you let it. And it’s waiting for you… when you’re ready.
The people that love you will not have the words to make your pain go away. They will not be able to take on your struggle or even have the ability to make you smile at times. And don’t expect that from them. But be around them.
Love heals pain.
I think I overcame the grief from a sheer presence of love in my life. My loving parents, my supportive husband (fiance at the time), my amazing friends who showed up for me. And not in a way that they were taking care of me, but they were present for me.
Be a part of their joy and their life and let their continual presence be a means to bring you back to life. I don’t mean this in a way that you are sucking the life out of someone else…
I mean it in a way that allow them to support you and love you. And also remember they have a life too that you are a part of. Love, and be loved.
Try to find a few things that you find true joy in and do them every single day. You may not find joy in them right away but try to consistently do one thing that is for you, and brings you joy.
Mine was running. And I can tell you I was not a runner before my brother passed away. But in those times of feeling alone and sad, it helped me have the time to myself that I needed to be in my own thoughts and navigate through the grief. It became a source of freedom, therapy, pain, struggle and springboard that I needed to move forward.
Figure out whatever it is for you, and do it daily.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope it provides healing or support to someone out there one day.
Writing, seems to be the only way I can express how I truly feel as it relates to my brother, so thank you for listening.
I still can barely talk about what happened without crying. After nine years, I can barely even say my brothers name sometimes without tears in my eyes.
But rock bottom was the foundation in which I rebuilt my life. And the loss of my brother is what has fueled every major decision I have made in the last 9 years.
I overcame the grief. I live a beautiful life, with MANY things I am grateful for.
Yes, a loss stays with you. Both as a reminder of sadness but also as a reminder to LIVE.
And that perspective, has changed the person that I am and the way I choose to live my life.
If you have experienced loss recently or in general – I feel this with you and I’m sending you love and strength.
Tune in to weekly blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday!