Surviving Death


(Photo Credit: Uploaded by ZaNuDa)

What does it feel like to suddenly lose someone you love?

Like when my friend, in her first pregnancy, asked me what childbirth felt like, I have no words to accurately depict what one goes through in such an event.  But unlike childbirth, experiencing the death of someone close to you can be predictably said, across the board, to be some degree of excruciation.

Over the past 25 years, I have been on the other side of grief: I have seen people lose their loved ones, and I’ve remarked on how they displayed such a  civilized mourning.  They silently suffered, or gracefully grieved, and then they picked up the pieces, careful not to cut themselves in the process.  I would stand back and witness such functionality with awe.

When my brother died, there was no grace in my family’s grieving, we did not send him gently into that goodnight, and the casualty was 5 out of 1.  I’m sure there were people around trying to support us – I remember the mountain of flowers and wreaths piled upon his mound after the funeral.  And cards.  So many cards from people we didn’t even know.  In retrospect, we had a lot of kind people in our community that reached out to us, although we were a close-knit family that kept to ourselves.

But what I remember most was death (I had developed a heightened awareness of death and its potential triggers), fear (everywhere I turned, the ambush of sudden death threatened to strike again), pain (more pain than all the Catholic lectures about hell had me imagine), confusion (there is nothing as disorienting as having to replace every pore of your existence where your beloved once occupied, with nothing; this is absolutely outrageous to the psyche).

How much fear, pain, and confusion one experiences following a loss may vary, but for us, there was just such a dastardly amount that:

my father’s successful construction business folded;
my parents’ once-happy marriage dissolved;
my parents lost their house;
my solid father lost his way;
my fractured mother started losing her mind;
my young, surviving brother got into gangs;
I attempted suicide numerous times, and ended up in an abusive relationship that would take a decade to escape, and nearly another one to completely be free from.

It took us 20 years, each in his/her own hell, to finally start healing.  20 years.  I know this is not normal.  Nothing has been normal for my family since my brother died, and we were knocked so out of orbit that we did not know how to regain footing.  We were spinning, and everyone saw our spinning.  Some tried to help, but many moved away because they didn’t know what to do with a spinning person.

Then we stopped spinning on the outside, but inside, we had still not found equilibrium.  We walked around, each going our separate ways, in feigned normalcy.  If people got close enough, they could hear the whirring of fear, death, pain, confusion.   It scared some, disdained some, and made us easy targets for yet others.

But our season in grief, though long and relentless, has finally passed.  We have survived, albeit in pieces as a family, but individually, fortified.

In retrospect, clearly, we went about it all wrong.  I cannot, however, beat down that broken-spirited family further by blaming them for dying.  We loved so deeply and thoroughly, and grieved accordingly.  Grief, after all, is a story about love.

Yes, I can find the meaning and purpose for my brother’s death, or rather, the role it played in who and where I am today.  But would I go through it again to learn the lessons?  Unless it is part of my story to save the world, no.

It is not even worth having gone through it once unless it could be turned into something positive, healing, to help others, and to restore grace to our own lives.

And so, here I am.

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12 Responses to Surviving Death

  1. Carrie Brummer (@ArtistThink) January 24, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Thank you for sharing. I commend you for your openness and willingness to share. While death is something we all face at some point in our lives, dealing with death can still be so taboo in some communities, for some people. We need to talk about it! Thank you for being an example for everyone.

    • Yazminh AB January 24, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      Hi Carrie,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, I think people are afraid of the topic, as it’s not a happy, sociable one. Also, unless you’ve experienced it, you really don’t understand it. One thing our society can learn is how to be more compassionate than fearful, no matter what the subject. For survivors, however, I wanted to let them know that there IS life after death, and it can be good again.

      • Hendrick January 31, 2014 at 3:51 am #

        Beautifully said..thank you for that deeply insightful post.

        • Yazminh AB January 31, 2014 at 9:04 am #

          You’re very welcome. I hope it was helpful. Thank you for reading and responding. ~Yazminh

  2. Denise February 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. You posted it 3 days after the 10th anniversary of my brother’s sudden passing. Everyone in our family dealt with it differently. For me, it was the beginning of learning about my own spiritual feelings and growth. So as devastating as it was, it was also a gift. I receive signs from him often, and know we will see each other again on the other side.

    • Yazminh AB February 24, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

      Hi Denise,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and journey on this experience. Yes, I truly believe that there is more than what science has uncovered – much more. I have a post on that in my line-up. Much love and positive energy your way.


      • Denise February 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

        I’d like to read it. What is it titled, or the date posted?

        • Yazminh AB February 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

          It’s not published yet, as it is a bit complicated and I’m trying to find a way to simplify/streamline it for this blog. I may have a few articles in between, but it will be coming, I promise! Thanks for your interest, and stay tuned! 🙂

  3. Denise February 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    I’m looking forward to it!

    • Yazminh AB February 24, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      I’ll have you in mind. 😉

  4. Joyce October 16, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you Yaz for sharing this to me. I can’t find the right words to say to you right now, maybe I am still lost in the abyss of grief but I appreciate your love … I’ll try to be strong Cuz!

    • Yazminh October 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      This is for you; you don’t owe me anything. Allow yourself to grieve. Don’t feel guilty if it takes some time, or if you find yourself suddenly here again, out of the blue, years later.

      You are filled with and surrounded by love, Joyce. Keep yourself connected to that acknowledgment. The crossing paths with death is a lesson in life. Embrace it. But allow yourself to grieve as you need to. *HUGS*

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