Since my brother’s tragic and untimely death at the end of last year, grief has been my constant companion; at first ferociously overwhelming me, later following me around as I existed in a kind of emptiness, and more recently just giving me a light nudge every now and then, whilst real life welcomed me back.
I thought that the most awful times were over, until what would have been his forty-sixth birthday rolled around at the end of August. Without realising, I slipped into a strange ‘in-between’ space. It seems wrong that birthdays and anniversaries still come round, even when a person has gone. I didn’t really know how to feel; uncomfortable and confused; too early for celebrating his life. Back in England my sisters and my Dad spent the weekend together, listlessly moping around, fractious with one another. They called me on FaceTime so I could join in.
On top of this we have all been ill here, with a seemingly unending cough and cold. I haven’t written anything for ages, or done much at all really. I felt like I’d fallen into a hole.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. It’s confronting when you put intangible feelings out on the table and examine them in the light, but I needed to in order to move forward.
Mr.B has been a champion, and suggested a weekend away in Hobart, just the two of us, as a belated wedding anniversary celebration. We were too ill and too sad to mark the occasion on the actual date. We had a wonderful time, eating fabulous food, visiting MONA, spending time with old friends and meeting new ones. Love, family and friends; these are the things we live for, aren’t they? I’m using this as a line in the sand.
It’s good to have a change of scenery, and I feel more positive now its spring. My head is taking the lead, and I’m doing my best to power through the inertia my heart is feeling.
I’ve mended my brother’s sweater, that I hastily snatched from his flat in the days after his death. It’s even more precious because it’s well worn and has a hole in the elbow. I won’t ever throw it out. I love it because it’s his, and maybe mending it has been like starting to mend myself. Life inevitably marches on, and though painful, we’ll have to learn to make-do without him. I’m hoping I can learn to wear my grief more comfortably going forward too, like I’ll wear his sweater.
23 thoughts on “Make-do and Mend.”
I have never experienced grief on this level but you explain it so vividly. Your words are beautiful and what a lovely tribute to your brother. I think it’s such a lovely, healing thing to mend his jumper xx
My mother passed away 10 years ago & one of my most precious possessions I inherited was her magnificent winter coat. It’s special not only because it was hers & its beautiful – but because it was her ‘ good coat’ & was worn on dress up occasions. As such – I have many young memories of my beautiful mother – dressed up & wearing ‘the coat’. This in turn means that when I wear it – and people comment on how lovely it is – I can share a beautiful memory that is heartfelt & feels like spring.
It’s wonderful that a piece of clothing can keep the person with you. Lots of love to you –
Thanks for sharing your story, Heather. I remember your mum coming to the movies with our mother’s group and helping me by cuddling Miss S whilst I held Miss E during the film. She was a lovely person x
After my brother died, I found a un-washed Tintin t shirt that he used to wear a lot. It smelled of his sweat. I slept with it for the earliest weeks after his death. It take such along time for grief to settle into you, for you to settle into grief, in my experience at least. Perhaps in time you will be able to celebrate your brother’s birthdays with his favourite foods, and songs and love. This is what i do now, but I am many years down the track. Just remember that there is no set time limit that you should put on yourself in regards to grief. xx
Thanks for your words of wisdom and comfort, Dani. I’m doing my best to not push grief away, but to just let it come at me. I’m hoping this will be the best way to absorb it and learn to live with it. Strangely, it feels like a precious thing.
You just need to do what is right for you. And be kind to yourself. And there’s nothing strange about feeling your grief to be a precious thing, it connects you to your brother and all that he was x
Thank you Lucy.
Grief is terrible isn’t it. Just when you feel like perhaps you’re getting a grip on it it rears up and knocks you sideways. It’s still very early days for you, I think the hardest is all the ‘firsts’. My Mum died quite suddenly three years ago and I wear her winter coat, I feel that it’s like a warm cuddle from her. Every now and then I open the box that her dress watch is in, and I can still smell her perfume. It’s relief and grief all rolled into one – so thankful I can still smell her, so raw that this is all there is left. There is no easy way to navigate it. Keep being kind to yourself. xx
I’m so sorry for your loss, this post is so heartfelt, and hopeful.
Thank you, Annette. I do feel more hopeful now. It’s been a steep and cruel learning curve.
Sad and touching words, but also beautiful. Even your images portray so much. I feel like by taking care of the jumper, you are also taking care of yourself and your grief and that is so precious.
Thanks, Emily. You have understood me perfectly. That is exactly how I feel.
Positive, sad, moving, hopeful post all rolled together. Thank you for sharing
Thank you for reading Jana.
Your brother’s sweater is a great focus for your love of him
It’s funny how his things make me feel connected to him somehow. It’s the same with his camera.
You’ve touched my heart again. I’ve always felt like it was the “firsts” that were the hardest. The first birthday after they’ve gone, the first wedding, the first Christmas… All of those things are a reminder of what has been lost.
I still wear one of my dads jumpers. My grandma knitted it in the late sixties. A lurid blue cable knit. Cosy in more ways then one.
Hugs and kind thoughts to you. X
I’m dreading the first anniversary of his death. That will be a hard and emotional time. Thanks for the hugs.
Beautiful post and tribute to your brother, Therese. I’m sure every time you wear the sweater you will feel his love wrapping itself around you xx
Thanks, Carolyn. I do kind of feel close to him when I wear it.