I tried to start two other “regular” blog posts today but they just weren’t coming together. This post has been on my heart but I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write it. I guess the words need to make their way out so here we go.
Today would have been my brother’s thirtieth birthday. It is the most beautiful fall day in Charlotte. There is not a cloud in the sky, the sunshine is abundant and there’s a steady cool breeze. I took the girls out for a long walk this morning on the trails. I feel closest to my brother when I’m out in nature. Thirty feels like such a milestone birthday that I wish I could share with him. I know he would have loved to be on that walk with me enjoying the outdoors and the pups. He was also a big animal lover.
It’s been just over two years since his death and my journey with grief has been a winding road. The intensity of my grief ebbs and flows and the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and new motherhood have definitely added a more complex layer to my feelings.
I am sad that my brother doesn’t get to meet Finn and that Finn will never know his uncle. I wish he could have been right there with me when our children met for the first time to feel how amazing that moment was.
I feel grateful that although we are not together, Finn has a father who will watch him grow up and be an important part of his life. I really struggle with that not being a reality for my brother or his two beautiful girls.
I deeply long for a close sibling relationship and wish that I had one to lean on through my entry into motherhood and all that has come with it. I oftentimes feel rather lonely due to the absence of this relationship along with how far away my parents and grandmother are from me. I know that Finn and I are a perfect family of two right now but that doesn’t mean that I don’t I wish it were different.
I have always held deep empathy for my parents as I watched them navigate everything they went through with my brother but now that I am a parent myself, holy crap. I have a whole new appreciation for their hearts, resilience and strength. I truly cannot imagine the pain that must come with watching your own child struggle so deeply and not being able to fix it for them. It must be the deepest form of surrender and heartbreak.
The last few years have felt heavily marked by loss. There is so much that I question and so much that I don’t understand, and I wrestle with these things every day. Finn has been the most incredible reminder of love and hope through all of it and he has changed my heart in so many ways.
I wish I had some sort of neat way to wrap up this post but I do not. Pain and suffering are part of the human experience and my prayer is that by sharing my joy along with my suffering here in this space that I am able to serve and help others.
Sending love to all of you, especially those of you who are in a time of pain, confusion, sadness, loss or suffering. You are not alone.
Beautifully written, Jen. Sending love to you and your family today <3.
Sending you love and peace today.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m in recovery and the hardest part was knowing how much it affects our families. That’s never the intention, just the affect unfortunately. I truly hope you find the peace with this you deserve (and he would want for you.) ❤️
Great post, although I realize how difficult it may have been to write for you. I only have 1 brother and we have been through a lot in our relationship in the past 10 years to the point where we are basically estranged at this point. Our parents are both deceased and have been for quite awhile. I also find myself sad about this and lonely for “family” that I no longer have. You may be thinking that I should be grateful, at least he is still living. And I am, and I wish him the very best life. But so much has happened that can’t be repaired unfortunately. I grieve at times for the times when we were close and shared everything. I guess this rambling is just saying I understand your pain and wish you peace.
Thinking of you. Sending love to you. xo
Oh my, Jenn- your insight and words really speak to me here.
I am an older reader/ fan of your blog and I feel so much for everything you and your parents have been through. I have a teen daughter who is struggling mightily with her mental health and substance abuse and it is SO hard.
You have tremendous insight and empathy; sending you strength and hugs.
Jen, my heart goes out to you.
I am sending you my very best??♂️
Love and peace to you.
I also lost my brother, although our situation is a bit different I get how you feel. My brother died in a car accident and he was 10. I have had similar heartache and struggle throughout every “life stage”. Marriage, pregnancy, missing him as the kids grow up, etc.. Its especially hard when you see other families or my husband has a brother and sister and it can be hard for me to see what Drew and our kids are missing out on. My kids have always known that they have an Uncle they haven’t met, I try and make his presence known. Hang in there while you navigate everything. Im really sorry that you have to think about these things, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m know Finn will grow up knowing the positive and loving things about your brother. I always appreciate your honesty.
You should check out the story of the dragonfly. It helped us. Dragonflies now remind me of him
Sending you love Jen x
I lost my brother this past year. The one year anniversary will actually be this Wednesday. He too struggled with addiction and he was 24 years old when he died.
I think the thing I’ve struggled with the most this past year is that even as the severity of pain will ebb and flow day to day and week to week, the reality of the situation will always remain the same. I will never again wake up in a world where my brother is alive and that is hard to accept. I also struggle with milestones. Even with my own birthday, as I keep keeping older and he does not.
I have been reading your blog for years but never comment. I am sending so much love your way.
I will end with this quote on grief:
“The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same. Nor would you want to” – Elisaveth Kubler-Ross.
A piece of your brother now lives on within your nieces. And even when our loved ones die, our relationship with them doesn’t have to.
Beautiful post. Love and hugs to you.
Peace and healing to you and your family, especially today. May your grief be transformed into love for your parents, nieces, and Finn.
Thinking of you <3 <3
I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.
I lost my sister back in August and everyday is a struggle without her. She died due to the disease PML- a disease that came on as a result of her lupus, which she was only diagnosed with 10 months before her passing. She has two little boys- 3 and 5 and it breaks my heart to know they will have to grow up without her. I struggle too as a new mother to my second baby, who is 6 months old. My sister and I would talk everyday about baby things and my soul feels an emptiness that takes my breath away…thank you for sharing…it’s nice to be reminded that I am not alone. xo
Jen, this past weekend, our sermon was about the suffering, knowing we all have at some point in our life a struggle and suffering with something. He challenged us to keep talking, praying for peace and comfort and offering our suffering that we’re going through by praying for someone else that you know is struggling in their life. I have done that at different points in my life and it has helped me so much. With having several children, I try not to fear or worry, but rather continue to offer up any of those worries I have for others in my life going through something like cancer, loss and even something simple that I know someone is having a hard time with. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – it’s a way of coping and creating peace through it. I hope that makes sense….if not, feel free to ask more about my meditation and prayer. I now have taught my own children to do it as well and they too have found great success. You are the best! Come see my in Arizona sometime! We would love to see you and Finn. ;o)))
This made me tear up. I only have one sibling, a younger brother. Hugs.
you made me text my brother today. thank you.
Sending you all my love and best wishes for peace and fond memories Jen. ❤️ I lost my sister 13 years ago to alcoholism and suicide (she was 24) and so vividly remember how overwhelming the pain was. It’s still there every day but definitely more manageable.
You’re doing an amazing job both as a momma and just a human being sharing her struggles and experience. ❤️
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sometimes I wish my family relationships were different and I feel like I look around and see people only sharing the perfect parts of their family and it makes me even more lonely. When people like you are honest and share the hard parts it definitely makes me feel less alone. <3 <3 Thank you.
Sending you lots of love.
beautiful post, Jen. sending lots of hugs, prayers, love. i’m still so sorry for you and your family’s loss.
thank you adrianna <3
Dear Jen, you are so strong! Sending you hugs!
Thank you so much Hannah! <3
Jen, thanks so much for sharing your heart. I lost my brother 4.5 years ago and everything you said is literally exactly how my heart and mind feel. I have a son he will never meet and the emotions I felt after his passing only intensified with the reality my son will never meet his uncle. It is most definitely a winding road of pain and healing. Praying for you on this journey of healing, friend. Thank you again for the honest, beautiful words.
Hi Danielle – you are welcome and I’m truly sorry to hear about your brother and that you are experiencing some of the same emotions. It is so difficult.