Bleak, bleak day.
Today marks one month since I lost my brother. Feels like one second. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. Can't listen to music. Can't face the sun. Can't think of his dancing black eyes without my brain snapping shut on the thought like a bug zapper or a shock collar. It's like a self-protective electric shock that triggers thousands of times a day when my brain senses a thought too much for me to handle.
Since then I have received hundreds of e-mails, cards, calls, Tweets, Facebook messages - you name it - from people who have lost a sibling - most often a brother, a younger brother like mine - who want to tell me their story. I am grateful for these gifts, and also deeply despairing because I see that really, at bottom, it doesn't get better. You move ahead. You live, but so much less so.
Some of the most moving responses were shared in the Chicago Tribune forum and other online forums reacting to Tribune columnist Mary Schmich's beautiful tribute to sibling loss in general, my brotherloss specifically.
Here's the link to Mary's column, where she described perfectly what Josh was: the keeper of my secrets, my life's witness.
Here are a few examples of the hundreds of stories of such losses that people are sharing. It has been a privilege to read each one.
From "BeenThere" in Palatine, IL
I lost my 35 year old younger brother suddenly, almost one year ago. I was immediately drawn to this headline. There is very little out there on sibling loss. Those left behind not only have their own grief...(I do remember one point I read somewhere...A brother/sister is the only one who has that unique experience of growing up in your family! How very true, when you think of how personal that is from family to family, and how often you talk about those memories with your siblings)...but they are left to deal with the grief and impact on those around them, especially parents. Deepest sympathies to all of those who have been through this.
From "OWL" in Oak Park, IL
It's the empty spot at the table, in your heart and your mind that stays. A good movie, book or event you want to share but he's not there. The Hallmarky sentiments don't apply. There isn't closure, but your life does go on, because it has to. Those who have lost a brother do know how it feels. So the "you're not alone" cliche might apply. My condolences to Pam Cytrynbaum and others posting here.
From Judy in Palos Hills, IL
I lost my younger brother 3 1/2 years ago to a blood clot and it was devastating. I miss him every day. He was my best friend and the person who I trusted most in the world and that was gone in the span of 40 minutes. I don't have any profound words of wisdom only that the love never dies and I have found, particularly when I encounter something that would of made the both of us laugh that I can feel him with me. It is this warm glow of a feeling that I can't exactly describe, but he will always be with you. My deepest sympathy.
From Charles in Norcross, GA
I lost my older brother 8 years ago (and he happens to buried in Burr Oak cemetery), and its a hurt that you learn to live with and its a pain like no other because this is the relative most like you. For those of us who lost an older sibling this is the person who introduced so much to you (my brother was a musician and taught me so much about music and always had music for me to listen to), and with that loved one gone, its simply an unfulliable void. I wish you comfort, peace & love.
From Dee in Chicago
The pain is deep. I lost my twin a few years ago and it doesn't go away.