I was asked about what happened to my family yesterday.I couldn’t say one word.
I became overpowered and lost in the onslaught of devastation that over came my small frame. I had forgotten.
How can I answer that question, all I can say is, to much has happened.
How is it possible that part of our very own flesh and blood no longer pumps around a body. The body is cold and no longer physically there.
One body for twenty years and then two bodies and then three. All gone. Buried beneath the flowers that try to make things OK.
So what happened to my family was death. Death of our other halves, death of ourselves, death of our life as we once knew it.
Arranging three funerals, choosing the coffins and the music, hoping it does our love justice.
Leaving us devastated, internally scarred, confused and unbalanced.
Living in a house hold where a child has died is scary and presents fears of what could happen next. As children nothing could prepare us for the invasion of thoughts and broken internal bruises.
Watching our mother load the dishwasher slowly and achingly, tears plumped her lifeless eyes and a father who continued to go out to work everyday as the world does not stop even though his heart has.
Each of us found different paths, some ok, some not OK, some destructive of heart and physical body, some constructive of finding a little piece of solace.
Even though we grew up in the same house hold we all experienced the loss of our brother differently.
Watching one another’s struggles while trying to live in a reality that others around us had no idea of how it felt.
As a child to experience bereavement it is confusing and so very fearful. Will someone else die now? where are they gone? When are we going to be ok again?
As a child you are lonely. You are told you are resilient and you will move on.
Move on from what? How can a child move on from something they do not understand only fear. They get stuck.
This stuckness creates a blockage in the mind and the soul. Not being able to get passed or not wanting to move past.
As scary as this place is to be, this is where we are familiar. We know this place, dark, heavy and burdened.
Living in bereavement is like living with your hands up in front of your face, eyes wide, mouth straight and chin gripped. Constantly bracing for impact.
If it has happened once who is to say it will not happen again. Absolute terror of the possibilities that another one could go. And we were right.
Fintan grieved for his younger brother Declan since he was 13.
His mourning was long, lonely and eched on his skin. Held in his broken and un kept body.
His sorrows were hidden in his long hair and scarce beard that he chose to keep to give him some sort of depth to his lamented body.
Recently I came home to the house and found my sister watching family videos. Our dad always carried a camera on our holidays and days out. Capturing the joy between us siblings. You see his hugs, his smiles and running on the beach.
He pretended to lift us and throw us over the high walls. We shouted “do it again, do it again daddy” he would and we would run off together down the path.
We didn’t even have to say anything to each other as siblings because we knew we felt the same as the other. Safe, loved and held.
The joy of having siblings is being with that person and not having to explain a feeling. Its a look, a smirk or a dig from the elbows. It was squashing into the back of the car and not wanting to be the one that sits on the seatbelt. It was sharing a Happy Meal or getting two cones with one 99 and halfing the flake.
Joy was sitting watching the Simpsons together at 6pm. Walking home from school and shouting “Im telling Mammy on you”.
Joy was having someone to share your room with, to laugh at and with and to put your arm around when they fell off the wall.
Missing this joy of a sibling is not having their name. Not sending them a snapchat of the bread you just made, not sharing the moments.
Missing the joy of a sibling is a space that can not be entered. It is sacred for you and for them that only you know how it feels.
Missing is a place you find comfort and a place you find depths of discomfort.
It is feeling anxious and not knowing why.
It is a feeling of longing for something to be different.
A feeling of nothing is ever going to be good enough.
The physical pains, the anguish in the broken heart, the breathlessness in the panics.
The tensed and tired eyes, the anxious mind that wanders from being ok to expecting this to happen all over again.
The body that is sore from the shaking when the shock hits as you hear their name and another face turns, not theirs.
I believe that there is comfort in great sadness. There is light in loss and there is peace in despair.
A sense and a way of being. I am now changed and if you have experienced death then so are you.
Through no choice of our own.
Wanting to be acknowledged in this, not fixed, just to simply be cherished with the discomfort.
What we do have, is empty spaces between us that will never be filled nor never want to be filled.
And with these spaces we can make more room.
Room for tiny lifts of the heart and allow the grace and heartfelt experiences of great loss.
United in the feeling of nothing and yet holding everything.
With Self Compassion.
Mind yourselves with breath and body.