Happy Birthday, Daniel
Today is my brother Daniel’s 40th birthday; err… would have been if he had not killed himself five years ago. Here are my random thoughts on the subject.
Many parents, other brother and sister-in-law, and many cousins, aunt and uncles and friends were all left behind to process his loss. Not one person is handling it the same way as another. Some are shy about talking about it, others post on social media every detail about their grief, while others completely ignore the pain. We all process differently (or in some cases not at all).
If I could only tell you what kind of a person he was, you might understand how much of a loss this is for us. But that’s grief, right? Everyone’s loss is incredible. The person who died was so ___(enter adjective here), everyone thinks that no one can relate to your loss. And that’s true, no one truly can. Your relationship with the person that died was unique. It’s very lonely. You scream on the inside. A part of your heart has died and can never be replaced.
Today is harder than his deathiversary / death anniversary (which was two weeks ago [July is a hard month for us]). I’m happy to remember his life and memories; I’m sad that these are the only memories I get; I’m frustrated that I have to work and can’t just curl up into a ball and have life pause for me.
I don’t know where I’m going with this blog – it’s an exact example that grief doesn’t fit nicely into categories. It doesn’t wait for you. It’s always there and it comes out in the weirdest ways. Today, for example, I thought I was going to be happy, to celebrate. “Hey Grief, do you mind if we can take a break today? It’s his birthday and I want to be happy.” Grief: “Fuck you.”
Oh, okay. Thanks.
This morning I am using my late brother’s woodworking machines to sand wooden boxes that will hold grief support candles that were created in response to his death. So there is that. Random.
My family would normally go to his grave site today on his birthday. That’s what people do, right? We don’t have a place to go to. Daniel was cremated. Even if we had a burial, where would that be located? In Colorado, where he died, or in New Jersey, our home state where most of our family still resides? We must make our own ‘grave site’. A place where we can be sad, a place where we feel him the most. Lighting the candle helps create an emotionally safe place for us to grieve.
I’m proud of my brother. He is memorialized in the memories we have and of his accomplishments. Some of my favorite things about him: he adopted his stepdaughter and took her under his protective wing. He was starting a college Masters program studying statistics the summer he died. His wicked sense of humor could rival even the best comics. And most importantly, he was fiercely loved by friends and family.
His death and my grief have inspired me to start this company. (Just for the record – one doesn’t need to do anything with their grief; to have loved and lost someone is enough). I think of my ‘why’ I started this company and I came up with this: My love for Daniel is more than the lack of emotional support I received while grieving his death. If I can help other people, I will. And not just with grief support.
We are all on this planet together. All of us will die and all of us will grieve. It puts things into perspective of how we should behave with one another. I am here to help.
That is my birthday gift to you, Daniel. I love you.
Love, your baby sister.