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Coping with losing a sibling

How Paul would never want me to quit (article)

July 4, 2017

I was 2 years old when My brother was born and if I’m honest I never remember life without him. Growing up we were extremely close and we had a wonderful childhood. So many family holidays and adventures together. We always stuck together on holidays and made new friends but the adventures were ours! As we grew up we became closer, we were very different in a lot of ways but also very similar.

I met my boyfriend (now husband) when I was 14 almost 15. So, my brother would have been 12 when we got together. They became good friends too! When we got married at 23 years old my husband asked my brother to be his best man, they were now so close that he was the obvious choice. We took him and his girlfriend at the time on our honeymoon as they were our best friends the people who we wanted to spend our time with.

As time moved on and he spilt up with his girlfriend, we still all holidayed together just the 3 f us and we took care of him, he was my husband’s best friend and my brother too! We wanted to look out for him and protect him as best we could.

He then met his new girlfriend who became his wife! We found out we were pregnant with our first child and my brother was over the moon! When she came along he was the best uncle you could imagine! He then married his girlfriend and asked my husband to be his best man, myself and our daughter bridesmaids! The perfect family! How lucky we were!

People used to say, “you are so lucky you are all so close” I never EVER realised how lucky I was!!!

He was godparent to my children and we were to his. One thing we always promised each other that if anything happened to us we would look after each other’s children! Not for one minute did I EVER think this would happen!

9 months to the day…… 27 September I received a phone call from his wife “can you come here please” I responded “of course what’s wrong” her reply “Paul’s dead”

That moment will stay with me forever! I wanted to stop time right then!!! I don’t think I processed that information for days or maybe weeks or months if I am completely honest! I drove round to their house screaming at the top of my voice “NO NO”

When I arrived, we waited for the police and were told he had been dealing with an RTA (I had no clue what that even meant) and my brother had died! Surely not! This cannot be happening! Not my little brother, not my brother, No!!! I asked the policeman if he was sure it was him, I pointed at his photos “are you sure?” He responded with a nod!

His wife called my parents and before long everyone was there! Tears, screams, cry’s!!! He will come home in a minute! Surely! I kept saying to myself when they identify his body tomorrow they will realise it’s not him and it will all be okay! He’s my brother, he’s not dead! He’s the person that I know will be with me forever! He’s going to go through everything with me!

He had been out on his cycling bike on a normal Tuesday night cycle route and he had collided with a tree! And that was it! He was dead! How? Why? What happened? I don’t think we will ever know? He was wearing his helmet and he was an experienced rider!

The next day my Dad had to identify his only son, his youngest child! I still thought it wouldn’t be him! I remember asking my husband who kindly went with him “was it him?” I so wanted it not to be!

When someone once asked me “how do you feel” my response was “like I’ve been spun around in a washing machine and spat back out in the wrong place”

I did so much research to try and find help and comfort, it was hard to find help for grieving siblings! I did speak to a counsellor who said, “you should right your own book, and tell everybody what it really feels like to lose your brother and survive your only sibling” Maybe one day I will!

Some books that helped me through are: –

  • Surviving the death of a sibling
  • The Empty Room
  • Grief Works – which was kindly given by my eldest daughter’s teacher with a note to say “hope you don’t mind, but I bought it for you. Pass on to other people afterwards if you wish to” some people are so kind and thoughtful!

I didn’t know anyone who has been through this before and I didn’t know who to turn to!
You can’t speak to your parents as they are crushed and changed forever! You become the “in law” no longer are you able to reason or risk hurting your sibling and know they will always be there! That bond! That bond! That bond is gone! That bond is broken! Broken into tiny pieces that no one can ever pick up! You don’t feel the same anymore, you are the outsider!

Parents, your parents are broken, never ever to be repaired and you must watch them suffer this pain and heartache. The person you want to help you and would know the feeling of this pain of watching your parents suffer is gone! You are alone! So alone…….

Everyone says, “how is his wife?” She’s not great she’s struggling and she hates life! Of course, she does! She’s lost her soul mate, her best friend her partner!!! Her children’s Daddy! NOBODY asks how I am? That’s a lie! Few people ask how I am? And I mean few! I sound so selfish when I say that! But why is it so hard to realise how painful and hard it is to lose a sibling! A younger sibling!

I am trying my best to support my parents but they are changed forever now and it is so hard to look at them the same again and our family that we knew and loved! Our perfect family of four! Is gone! Is broken! Our family was perfect! Our parents so proud that we both had lovely spouses and two gorgeous children each! Everything was just perfect!

I am supporting his wife but don’t know how to do it right and make so many mistakes when I say and do the wrong things. His children agreed 3 and 5 should not be going through this nightmare and I am trying to be the best Aunty I can ever be! My own children are also suffering as they loved their Uncle so much and his bond (especially with my 10-year-old) was so strong!

I signed up for an Ironman a couple of months before My brother died and he was going to help with my cycling (his passion) and get my mileage up! I didn’t know what to do in the months afterwards as I had been out on a bike so few times and this really was the last thing I wanted to do now! EVER!

Then in March I did an 80-mile charity ride in his memory, and of course I wish more than anything he could have ridden with me that day and although he is not here he still inspires me EVERY single day, he never gave up and gave everything his all! He will continue to be my mentor forever………:

He loved and lived life and it should never have to be like this and I don’t think I will ever understand or come to terms with it but I am very grateful that I had him in my life and had the most incredible relationship with him (I wish I had 36 more years). Our childhood I now realise was a gift that I will be forever grateful for! A Brother is a Friend for Life. (Such a short life) he was my best!

Life will never ever be the same without him and he is missed every single day, I can no longer protect him or look after him as a big sister should but I can KEEP his MEMORY ALIVE ALWAYS AND FOREVER I PROMISE I WILL. I am the proudest Sister in the world.

I now hate that I must face this world alone without the one person that has always been there and know I have a lot more to face with the possible death of our parents. A sibling should be with you to survive this!

I have decided to continue to train for Ironman as I know Paul would have wanted me to, he would have never quit! The training has helped me with my grieving and given me the time I have needed to be alone! I hope that he will be riding with me and he gets me through this challenge!

The thing that really gets me through every day is the promise I made and to make sure his children grow up being proud of him and who he was and who they are because of him!