There is No Time Limit on Grief

by Brooke Ninni Matthews

BrookeMy name is Brooke Ninni Matthews, a 40-year-old housewife with two children. I live in Reading, Pennsylvania. My family and I have had three losses within six months: my mother (JoAnne Ninni) on August 10, 2011; four weeks later, my husband’s mother on September 8, 2011; and exactly six months to my mother’s death, I lost my only 31-year-old baby brother (Timothy Reber) on February 10, 2012 to homicide.

Have you ever lost a loved one to death? That answer is, yes. We all have lost loved ones and we have all grieved. Grieving is a process we go through after we have lost a loved one. It is our way of continuing to love the one we have lost. Some feel emotions, while others feel none. No two grievers are alike, almost like no two children who are on the Autism Spectrum are alike.

Do you ever hear those dreadful things people say to you? We all have. Things like: he/she are in a better place, it was their time to go, get over it and move on, everything happens for a reason, and so on. My husband, our two children (now sixteen and ten) and I had no time to grieve the loss of my mother before my husband’s mother passed. We had no time to grieve for my husband’s mother before my brother passed. When you think about, what is the grieving time for three passings within six months or any passing, or is there a time limit? The answer is, no!

Brooke's Mom
Brooke’s Mom

I believe the time of grieving a loved one’s passing depends on the person who lost the loved one, who the loved one was and what they meant, how the loved one passed, and so on. My mother was diabetic and had heart disease, and her health was deteriorating over the years. She developed gangrene and lost her right leg, and a few toes on her left foot. She had been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation rehabs. On August 10, 2011 my mother lost her battle to diabetes and heart disease, three days after her fifty-seventh birthday. My mother and I did just about everything together. We’d go for breakfast or lunch together. We’d go shopping and take the children places together. My mother was my best friend.

We lost my husband’s mother to cancer four weeks after my mother’s passing. They had not found the cancer until four weeks before her passing. By then, it was too late and hospice had to come in and care for her. My husband’s mother was always healthy, never had any real sicknesses other than your average cold. She was a smoker from the time I’d met her, but she was always full of energy and life. My husband’s mother and I were close and I’d go to her when my mother and I had fallouts. They both suffered illnesses that are painful, but they were given pain medication to subside the pain. I am glad that they both passed in a warm bed peacefully in their sleep.

Brooke's Brother
Brooke’s Brother

On February 10, 2012 is when our life really changed. My thirty-one year old baby brother was shot to death in Alsace Township in Reading, Pennsylvania. My mother’s death was painful, but to lose a sibling in such a traumatic way, and at a young age, is like no other pain. He was vibrant and full of life; he had his whole life ahead of him.

I realize that my mother’s passing was a blessing, not only because she went peacefully in her sleep, but also because she would have never have been able to handle losing her only son. I know now that I can be at peace with my mother’s passing. The only guilt I have is knowing that my mother wanted to pass in her own home, but she just wasn’t well enough to do so.

I may or may not eventually come to terms with my brother’s passing. There is so much that goes through one’s head when a loved one dies due to a homicide. As I sit and think how peacefully and pain-free my mother passed, it’s hard not to think about what my brother went through. I’m always reminded that he laid there on the concert, in his own blood in pain, and without much help, if any. It’s hard for a sister to live with that every day wishing she had been there to hold him, and tell him he was much-loved.

I don’t want to say that losing a loved one to homicide is more painful than losing a loved one to any other kind of passing, but it is one that many don’t understand. It is an understanding that many don’t know until it happens to them, and to be honest I was one of them. I’d hear on the news or read in the local newspaper about a homicide, and I would think “that poor family” and I’d move on with my life. When someone you love passes due to a homicide, your whole world changes, and your life changes forever. You live your life daily as if you were in a mirror funhouse that you can never escape from. Many think it will never happen to them or happen in their family, and once again, I was one of those people. It can happen to anyone! You can be young or old, good or bad, rich or poor; it doesn’t matter.

Mother and Son
Mother and Son

I saw my brother two weeks before his passing. It was the best night ever! We talked, we laughed, and we danced. He had a smile on his face like I had never seen before and he was just so happy to be with three out of four of his sisters. I still remember that great big hug he gave me, and the kiss I gave him gently on his neck.

I have moved forward from my losses, and made progress with each one. I still miss my brother, I still cry for him, and still wish he were here, as I do my mother and my husband’s mother. You can lose someone in the blink of an eye. So remember to never go to bed mad, let go of the small things, forgive and forget, and always say I love to your loved ones!

I am doing so many things to release my tears, sadness, guilt, pain, anger, and so on. I have made a quilt with scraps of my mother and brother’s clothes. I have made scrapbooks of those I’ve lost and I have started blogging my stories. Find something that works for you. And for those who believe in the spiritual world, our loved ones do send us signs that they are with us. I have got many. I have cried a thousand and one tears and there is nothing wrong with that. So cry and let it all out. Remember, there is no time limit on grief!

Here are some books I have read:
Wake Me Up! A True Love Story about Life After Death by Lyn Ragan
We Need To Talk: Living with the Afterlife by Lyn Ragan
Talking To Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life after Death by James Van Praagh
Signs From Above: Your Angels’ Messages about Your Life’s Purpose, Relationships, Health and More by Doreen and Charles Virtue
We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us by Allison DuBois
Angel Miracles: Connecting with Your Loved Ones in Heaven (I’m featured in this book) by Cindy Adkins
Do You Need a Hug from Heaven by Cindy Adkins
Angels at My Door by Cindy Adkins

Brooke Ninni Matthews
Her blog: Just Breathe

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