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Six Months On, How Am I Handling the Death of My Brother?

In the first few weeks following my brother’s death, all I wanted was to be able to talk to someone who had been in my position — someone who had lost a younger brother suddenly. I wanted to be able to ask them what would happen and what life would be like six months on. Would I be OK, if I would even still be here? Would my family be torn apart? Would things be getting back to “normal,” or would things just get worse and worse?

And now that over six months has passed since Lewis was killed in a car crash, I’m none the wiser. I don’t know the answer to any of those questions yet. And more importantly, it doesn’t feel like it’s been six months. Not even close. It still feels so raw and heart-wrenching, like it was only last week.

I can still remember every part of the night it happened. It comes back to me every single day, in points when I least expect it. I might be folding jumpers at work when my stomach feels like a bag of rocks is being forced down it. My breath turns short and sharp, and I can see how long and curly the policeman’s eyelashes were when he told us Lewis had been in a crash on his moped, and that he was dead. My legs turn weak as the shock hits me all over again. That’s the thing about a car crash or sudden death; you never get over the shock. I know he’s gone. I tell myself over and over, I remind myself, oh, my brother died. He’s actually gone. But yet, I’m still in a state of disbelief. I think that sense of disbelief and shock is what allows me to function, to survive. It’s as though my brain thinks Lewis is simply living away somewhere, that he’ll be gone for a while, but it’s not forever.

But the sudden moments of realization do come every now and then. And when they do, they crash upon me and force everything to stop. They demand to be felt. My heart feels as though it’s pumping rigid pieces of glass around my body instead of blood. My insides hurt all over. Lewis is gone, forever. And I’m still here having to learn how to live with that.

When I’ve experienced grief before, it was nothing like this. I thought grief was being really sad most of the time, missing the person who’d gone. I thought it was sharp and painful initially, but that it weakened over time. But losing a sibling brings more than just grief. It changes you entirely.

Now I find myself taking prescribed sleeping tablets at night to stop my mind racing, and antidepressants to stop my suicidal thoughts. I have visits every three weeks with the doctor, and I am currently waiting for my second course of counseling. I have a panic attack because the local shop doesn’t have the flavor ice cream I went in for, or I take an hour getting a loaf of bread from the supermarket because I spent the entire time debating what problems would arise if I was to buy brown instead of white, or a half loaf instead of standard.

My mind now sees the darkness in absolutely everything. I am terrified to do things that required no thought before. I get irritated and down only half an hour into doing something I normally would love. I get angry at anyone who complains about a “bad Monday morning” consisting of missing the bus or a car breakdown. And I’m bitter toward anyone who gets to have a birthday when my brother was only given 16 of them.

I am a completely different person now that Lewis is gone. Every day I am trying my absolute hardest to face the day, smile and carry on being the bubbly and energetic person I was before the crash. But I know that person is gone now.

Six months after losing my brother, I’m only really just starting to understand he is actually gone forever. Six months after losing my brother, I’m trying to keep the ripped-apart pieces of myself from dropping out of my hands and being lost forever. Six months after losing my brother, and I am still here. That is the part I must remember. That is what any of who have lost someone close must remember. Each day, each hour, will be different. But we are still here, and we have to continue trying to be.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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