1,095 days since my brother passed away. Three years.

Three too many. Three too heartbreaking. Three too surreal. Three too confusing. Three too stressful.

Three years. 1,095 days.

There’s a piece of me that is permanently sad without him. Most of the time it’s a small piece that I can compartmentalize and keep control of. Most of the time it’s manageable. Most of the time I can keep going.

But I’m human. And sometimes I can’t.

Last night I cried so hard that I had a headache within minutes and it took all the restraint in me to not rip my hair out. I missed him hard. Maybe the hardest since the day I found out he was gone. I thought about the specific instances where looking back, I could have done more. It was daunting. I couldn’t breathe. I broke down… I just completely broke down.

But after awhile, I slowed down. I kept breathing. And then I did two things: I accepted the comfort of my boyfriend, and I called my twin sister.

I leaned on someone else so that I could stabilize myself. Stabilize my mind, my aching heart, and my battered body.

The tough part about grief is that it’s so sharp that you don’t want to share it with anyone else for fear of hurting them. It’s too painful. It’s too risky.

But surprisingly, grief also gives us a great opportunity. It allows us to connect with others in a way that is so raw and so real it’s practically impossible to ignore. If your grief is honest and true, it can bring you closer to those you lean on.

Grief can even bring us closer to those who are gone, because in a way, we lean on them, too.

We lean on them to give us signs that they’re still with us in some way, even if they’re signs that no one but us understands.

We lean on them to talk to when we have our quiet, private moments of prayer or reflection where we are absolutely sure that they can hear us.

We lean on them to still be here for us in those milestone moments, even if it’s in a way that’s not what we originally imagined.

We lean on them to protect us as guardian angels in times of strife and hardship.

We lean on them all of the time.

So the next time you find yourself in a dark moment of grief, lean into it.

Let it catch you and cleanse you and bring you closer to whatever and whoever it is that you need to keep yourself going in that moment.

Go ahead, lean. You’ll find yourself standing soon after.






Of the essence

Two years have gone by since my brother passed away.

Two years since I got that phone call.

Two years since I wrote his obituary.

Two years since I read his eulogy.

Two years.

I know as the years continue to pass i’ll say, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!” and, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!” I’ll always be in a state of disbelief.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we have all lost someone dear to us. And it’s tough to tell how you’ll feel when a day like this sneaks up on you. Because there was such a strong unpredictability about how today would feel for me, I decided to plan ahead and give myself one simple thing: time.

Time off of work for one day. Time to perhaps organize my apartment, go to a yoga class, spend time with one of my most uplifting girlfriends, call my twin sister, check in on my family… just a little extra time.

Because one thing I realized is that time is a luxury we rarely ever have when we want it the most.

I don’t have the luxury of time to go back to my brother and have the million conversations that I wish I could. I don’t have time to hug him once more or tell him I love him. I don’t have time to argue with him over whether or not to keep Taylor Swift on the radio, or whose team is going to win the football game.

In the relationship between my brother and myself, I am completely and utterly out of time.

That is a heartbreaking reality that two years later i’m still learning how to both manage and adapt to.

Yet on the positive flip side – because I always fight to find one – I’m now acutely aware of this luxury of time, and day by day am trying to take advantage of the brutal lessons i’ve learned through the loss of my brother.

I’m trying to make the most of the time I have with those who I still have it with.

Whether that means taking extra vacation time to see my family over the holidays, or finally – after 10 years of friendship – having the courage to commit to a relationship with the man of my dreams, I’m giving life every ounce of effort I have left in this battered yet beating heart of mine.

It’s no secret that every day comes with a struggle and a challenge- for all of us. But it also comes with the opportunity to make the most of our time and the love we have for life and those we’re fortunate enough to share it with.

Life without my brother will never get easier. But the lessons i’ve learned from his loss will help me to make this life as beautiful as humanly possible.

I promise you that time is a luxury I will never, ever take for granted. And I hope you don’t either.

So now, how will you make the most of the time you have?