When I heard about the loss of your brother, Michael, I cried.I cried for his loss of life, but also for you, his sisters.I felt pain in knowing that, although your experience is unique from mine, you would have to deal with the loss, just as I am continuing to grieve over the loss of my little brother, Jeffrey Grey.I know that my older sister, Rachel, visited you during Shiva, and that you are aware of what happened to my brother last summer.
I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you frequently.Unfortunately, we now have a bond, because you are going through something that not many young adults like ourselves ever have to experience: the tragic loss of a sibling.I am certain that you have had an outpouring of support from friends, family, and the community… but as time goes on, you will feel that support less and less.I remember that a few months after I lost my brother, I was crying at work and a coworker asked me why I was crying.I told her that I was crying about losing my brother, and she seemed surprised and told me that I would get over it.The truth is, I will never get over it, but have to learn to live with it.For the past year, each day has felt like the day I just found out.I can keep my emotions together easier as time has gone on, but I am still in shock and often have to remind myself that this really happened…and I allow myself to cry.People do not understand.Most of your friends will not understand why you can cry just as hard many months from now, as you are now.I just want you to know that I understand, and that I am here for you if you want any support.
I remember that about a month after losing Jeffrey, I was on vacation with my husband’s family, and I laughed out-loud for the first time since losing my brother.I was afraid that they would think that I was no longer grieving, if they heard me laugh.A good friend of mine said something to me that I have really taken to heart: It is okay to feel deep pain and grief, and great joy and happiness simultaneously.You do not have to be all one or the other.I realized that I have permission to have happy moments, to laugh, to enjoy life, yet still be in deep pain and grief over the loss of my brother.I can be crying one moment, and then burst into laughter another moment, and that’s okay.
A month and a half after Jeffrey was killed, I got pregnant.I just had my baby 8 weeks ago, and named him Jonah Jeffrey after my brother.Having a baby has helped to put life in perspective.I realized that I hadn’t smiled much in the past year, but I want my baby to see me smile, so I make myself smile at him.The more I make myself smile, the more I feel like I actually am smiling… I guess the term “fake it till you make it” pertains to this.
Shortly after losing my brother, and returning to my home in California, I sought out support groups for other siblings who had lost a sibling.There are tons of support networks for the parents who have lost children, but not much out there for the siblings.I ended up going to a parent support group for a while, but I didn’t totally fit in there.I have found that my greatest support is my older sister, Rachel.We talk every day, and share our feeling about Jeff all the time.I don’t know how I would have made it through the past year without my sister (and my wonderful husband, Jordan), to lean on.
If you ever want to talk or correspond, I am here for you any time.I am so sorry about the loss of your brother, Michael.I read a little bit about him in the Jewish News, and he sounds like a great guy.
I will be in Michigan for an extended trip for most of August and September.I would love to meet you and your family, if you are interested.Feel free to contact me any time.