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Why I Really Keep Sharing on Social Media My Grief About My Brother's Death

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Someone told me recently, “It upsets me to see you sharing things on Facebook about your brother all the time. I wish you would be able to move on with your life.”

The comment made me feel ashamed and humiliated, and I went through my wall and deleted almost everything I’d shared about my brother or my grief. Though when this person said this to me, he misunderstood my reasons for sharing. I didn’t have the confidence to try and explain to him why, so instead I turned it inward and let myself be defeated by my fears of what people might think of me. I know sharing about grief is often denounced as “over-sharing” — an inappropriate medium and an attention-seeking behavior. But my reality and motivations are far from that.

Sharing about my grief does not mean I am consumed by it.

Rather, for me, it means the opposite. My life goes on “as normal” in most ways. I work, I socialize, I smile and I make jokes. It’s exactly because my life goes on that sometimes I need to stop and make the moment about my brother. I don’t feel comfortable speaking about him with my colleagues or friends, but I need to “communicate” him somehow. When he fills my mind I need an outlet. Sometimes “over-sharing” as people see it is born out of the loudness in my head juxtaposed with my silence in the real world, as well as out of moments of need and desperation rather than an active choice.

I do not share for attention.

Or, I do not share for attention for myself. I can accept I share for attention for my brother. The brain can physically change with trauma or complicated grief, and one of the most helpful articles I read described those experiencing complicated grief as similar to having an addiction: “They are in a constant state of yearning for a person who is not there and is not going to be there.” When I share, it momentarily feels like feeding my addiction; in that moment, I am making my brother exist, I make him real and at the forefront again. Unfortunately, as with any addiction, the relief is either fleeting or not really ever present at all. Which is why I do it again, and again and again.

I want to share who he was.

I am proud of him. He was talented. He can’t share his music anymore, but I want people to hear it. I want people who never got to know my brother to feel like they know him. I want them to know what he looked like and how special he was. I want them to know what our relationship was and how very much I loved him. I need them to see for themselves, without me telling them, that he also loved me. I want them to be able to watch videos and see his mannerisms, experience his humor and sense his kindness, for themselves. I am embarrassed to say out loud I want this, or need this. People get awkward when I even say his name in conversation. I get awkward too. When I share on social media, I don’t have to ask, I don’t have to deal with their faces — I just do it.

Sometimes I just want a voice.

Grief is isolating. A perfect example is to look back at this comment about “moving on.” Speak to a lot of people in the aftermath of a traumatic loss, and they will tell you “moving on” is not the goal. Yet people have their expectations about how to deal with grief and the timelines of grief, and therefore their judgments when these expectations are not met. We always talk about “not judging,” but we are human, and we cannot help but conceive our own opinions about what we encounter, even subconsciously. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but at times I have things I want people to understand about me, about loss, death and secondary losses. Whether they read what I have to say or not, there is power and something therapeutic in knowing you tried.

Getty image by anyaberkut

Originally published: October 9, 2019
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