adult sibling grief, Poems and Reflections

I Had a Dream

I Had a Dream
by Donna Fields

Sharin Childress
Sharin Childress

On Monday, February 23, 2015, as Sharin Childress drifted off into a deep sleep, she was having a dream of dreams. She was at the Orange County Beach standing by the shore where she stirred the darkest waves. As she reached for that far tide with its powerful sweep, Sharin buried her troubles in the shore where no mortal could see. Sharin began to pray, humbly making her supplications known. While making her supplications known, she began to imagine Heaven and what it would be like.

Sharin began to walk along the shore. As she walked the shore, she noticed a set of footprints in the sand. She followed the path. The footprints led her to the end of the Orange County Beach. Upon reaching the end of the shore, Sharin saw a Fisherman. He was gathering fish from the shore. Continue reading “I Had a Dream”

adult sibling grief, The Road Less Traveled

Running With Vince (adult twin death)

by Jonathan Kuiper

Excerpt from my self-published book, adapted for this article.

Jonathan154X193In 2005, my twin brother Stephen was killed in a car accident. I clearly did not understand until his passing that the grieving process is ongoing and there is no time limit. It wasn’t until a few months ago when a second edition of my book, Running With Vince, was published that I completed that part of my journey.

Running With Vince was an idea that popped into my head, just a few weeks after his death. I wondered what it would be like if Stephen, my twin, had been with me the morning and days that followed his death. The first wink that led to this idea came early on, even before he passed fully over. At the time of his death, even though we were miles apart, I was wide-awake and knew that something was odd about that morning. Continue reading “Running With Vince (adult twin death)”

adult sibling grief, Parent Loss, The Road Less Traveled

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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adult sibling grief, adult twin grief, The Road Less Traveled

The Climb Out Of The Valley

by Judy Haughton-James

JudyA new year is here and I seem to be on an endless climb out of a valley. I found myself tossed into this deep valley following the deaths of two family members. At times, I have felt the stress of it all which has made me listless and weary. However, I have kept on climbing as that is the only way to make life meaningful.

I am writing this article a few days after the first anniversary of the death of my brother Sutcliffe who suffered a heart attack on December 28, 2011.

This past holiday season was yet another difficult one as just over 4 years ago on October 16, 2008 I lost my identical twin sister Janine to stomach cancer. The strong bond that my twin and I shared made it a monumental task to prevent my life from coming to a total standstill.

My climbing equipment through these difficult times have been my Bible, religious books, books on twin loss and grief, the support of relatives and friends, the internet and twinless twins and twin loss groups. I have also taken quiet time to find solace in meditation, the repetition of affirmations and Yoga exercises. In addition, my career as a Freelance writer has put me in “keep on keeping on” mode. I firmly believe that whether you are a professional writer or not, writing is an important tool to use in pouring out one’s thoughts and emotions in such a situation. You can express yourself in a few words, essays, poems,sutcliffe articles etc. As a matter of fact, if you are good at art you can express yourself in artwork.

I am so glad that a cousin in New York suggested that I start a blog and I finally did so in March 2011. While I have shared some of the sadness and loss I have felt following the deaths of my twin sister and brother, I have found the healing process enhanced by relating the good times, wonderful memories, hobbies, interests, etc. that were a part of our lives.

Nature walks have also been very uplifting whether I saw an awesome skyscaper, flowers, birds, etc. My interest in photography has deepened tremendously so I always have my digital camera ready at hand. Sitting and looking at some of these sights help me to experience a sense of peace.

My brother Sutcliffe died only 3 years after my twin sister and this made me slide lower than where I had reached in my upward climb out of the valley. The minute December arrived I felt a level of trepidation. I struggled as to whether or not I could decorate this past Christmas. I looked in an area where I had some decorations and even took some shots of my favourites to display on my blog. Nevertheless, up to a few days before Christmas, it seemed as if my living-room would not even have one decoration. Suddenly, I decided to have what I called a special memory table. I placed photo frames that carried pictures of Sutcliffe and Janine on the centre table in our living-room. After that, I decorated it with many decorations that were our favourites and two red candles. Just before 6 p.m. I lit them in memory of Sutcliffe and Janine.

Over the years, I have lost my father, twin sister and brother. While I will always miss them dearly these words of Philippians 1:3 sum up my love for each of them – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

the twins

About the Author: I am a Jamaican Freelance Journalist who holds an Honours Diploma from the London School of Journalism. I have had articles published in national publications including Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner newspaper and international publications including Grief Digest and Twins Magazine. I have a Blog titled Judy H-J’s Thoughts – A Twinless Twin.

adult sibling grief, The Road Less Traveled

The “Perfect Death” (adult sibling grief)

by Emily Paquette

It seems almost like an oxymoron of some sort speaking of death and the word perfect in the same sentence. But it’s also interesting how uncomfortable death makes people, and how uncomfortable many people become when the death of someone is brought up. I know this first hand since my brother passed away. At first, people will try consoling you by saying things like: he’s in a better place, at least he isn’t suffering anymore, you’ll have so much more time on your hands now, it was God’s will, etc. Some of these, to some, may sound offensive, and I will tell you, they really are. My brother was born with multiple disabilities, endured over 18 operations, and was not expected to live more than 24 hours. He, however, defied the odds and lived a very full 20 years.

Whenever people saw him, their first impressions often were of pity. He was in a wheelchair, had some facial anomalies, breathed through a tracheal tube in his neck, suffered from scoliosis and kyphosis, had very poor fine motor skills, ate through a G-tube in his stomach due to issues with swallowing and processing food, as well as other difficulties he often encountered on daily basis. However, despite all of this, and despite it seeming like he would be miserable and/or not even know he was miserable, he was very bright, and was ALWAYS smiling. Over the course of his life, we made probably about 20 trips to Disney World (his favorite place). He advocated for special needs in Washington DC, was part of various other special needs groups that tried to spread further awareness, traveled up and down the East coast and even made some trips to Canada and Texas. Bryant, my brother, was a fighter, and had a certain glow to him that is impossible to describe, it was one of those “you would have had to have met him” or at least seen pictures or videos to better understand.

Bryant passed away in his sleep in March of 2009. My parents had always expected him to pass away due to some type of medical issue since even the common cold affected him ten times as worse as you or me. I remember waking up to my parents screaming, and knowing without seeing or hearing a confirmation what was happening. My parents opted not to do an autopsy due to the many operations Bryant had to go through over the course of his life. My mother recalls that he looked so peaceful, and when they found him, it appeared there hadn’t been a struggle of any sort. The doctors, as well as Bryant’s lifelong pediatrician, believe that it may have been heart related, possibly an arrhythmia.

Whatever happened to Bryant, all we know is he went to bed after having a particularly good day with his tutor and nurse, and went to bed happy after watching his movies. Even before this had happened, I had occasionally thought of how I wanted to die. I thought that going in my sleep would probably be the ideal way. It’d be peaceful, (or so I’d hope), and wouldn’t be a long drawn out thing for my family and friends.

Before dying, I want to accomplish so much. It scares me that I won’t be able to; whether it is due to lack of money, work, prior attachments, etc. I get nervous that I have some grandiose goals in my mind that are just too far out of reach to ever be fulfilled. I want to travel the United States before traveling outside of it. I’ve only seen the East coast, and there is so much more out there that I want to experience. I want to see the Midwest, and travel up and down the West coast. [Addendum: Recently, Emily has been to California to attend The Compassionate Friends conference and Nevada visiting the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas]. I want to get married in Disney World, and stay at the Grand Floridian before heading off on a luxurious cruise. I want to graduate college and possibly pursue my Masters and get a job that I actually enjoy. I want a beach house somewhere, maybe in California, maybe in Cape Cod. I want to have time to spend with my husband exclusively, creating our own life and our own normal. Maybe somewhere down the line I’d like to have children, and I would hope to be able to raise them as my parents raised me. I want to somehow make a difference, whether it is big or small. I want to write a novel that will one day become a huge success and maybe even a feature film. I want to travel all over Europe and Australia. And I want to keep my brother’s legacy alive.

Similarly to my brother’s situation, I’d like to have had a nice fulfilling day, able to see the most important people to me, and just being happy. I’m not sure what age I would like to be, probably somewhere in my 80s if my health is still decent. Living to an exceedingly old age is not attractive to me. I want to live a full, happy, adventurous life surrounded by the people I love. But dying alone or close to it does not appeal to me. That’s why living into my 100s or even 90s just doesn’t seem appealing, plus by then health would be declining extremely fast.

As cheesy, cliché, and naive as it may or may not sound, I’d like to die with my significant other. I’m sure most everybody is familiar with the book, The Notebook, and how Ally and Noah both drift off together peacefully. To me, that would be the “perfect death.” Growing old enough to see my children and grandchildren, and also still being with the one I love. I don’t think it matters where it happens, I guess at home would be ideal. The place I grew to love and be most comfortable with. The place where laughter, tears of sadness and joy had taken place, where spills and accidents occurred, where gatherings and parties had taken place, where I went to escape the chaos that often surrounds us in this world.

As I said, death is something that is a part of every one of our lives whether we want to accept it or think about it or not. Eventually, everybody is going to die, but that’s the whole point of living. Trying to do things in the moment and trying to love everybody as much as possible and just be happy. My brother taught me that. He taught me to smile despite the things that are going wrong, and to not dwell on little things that may seem big at the time. He also taught me to be more considerate of others who have lost someone. I know now how painful it is, and how scary it is to think of that person being forgotten. It’s alright to talk about death and people we’ve lost, it’s a part of life and a part of trying to not forget or move on, but to at least find a new way of living without that person around. The saying “time heals all wounds”, I feel, is false. Nothing can heal the hole in my heart, or the hearts of my parents, that was left when Bryant died. But by talking about him, planning new trips to Disney, and keeping his spirit alive, we can start to create a new kind of normal.

About the Author: Emily Paquette is a 21-year-old college student (Psychology major). She works with special needs students and with her local recreation center after school program. She is hoping to go into teaching when she completes her degree.

Emily wrote this piece for a college essay on the “Perfect Death”. She is a frequent guest writer on her Mother’s blog with other essays she’s written on the death of Bryant and how his life has been something she treasures.

Read her mother’s article, Take Him Home and Love Him

adult sibling grief, adult twin grief, The Road Less Traveled

Born with a Soul Mate; Living on Without Them

by Linda Pountney
Twinless Twins Support Group International

My identical twin sister Paula died unexpectedly as her small plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean one Thanksgiving night. We were 21 years old. With the same genes and a shared history, we functioned as a unit growing up. Having our own language and each other as best friends, our reliance grew. Even before birth we developed a bond, which would prove hard to break.

I lived my life from age 21 to 39, managing to deny my grief. Unconscious denial (referred to as dissociation) can serve as a protection mechanism. Unable to cope with losing my other half, my grief waited for me. A cloud of feelings burst open, bringing Paula back through time, into my life, releasing me to feel the painful long-denied emotions.

Continue reading “Born with a Soul Mate; Living on Without Them”

adult sibling grief, The Road Less Traveled

Not a Walk in the Park (sibling suicide)

by Ben Sharples

My older brother, Paul, committed suicide on September 23, 1999. It was definitely the most devastating thing I’ve ever experienced. He and I weren’t particularly close, but that didn’t matter. Losing him felt like losing a limb.

After the initial shock – which was considerable – subsided, the grief set in. For a full year, I don’t think there was a day that went by that I didn’t fall asleep or wake up crying – usually both. And though it’s pretty foggy looking back on it, I remember spending most of my waking hours feeling pretty much torn apart.

Continue reading “Not a Walk in the Park (sibling suicide)”