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Old 05-06-2011, 08:45 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
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Dealing with the loss of a brother... and

Hey everybody, I'm new here and I need some advice. One year ago tomorrow I lost my older brother in a car crash. He was 4 years older than me but we were always extremely close. We lost our father when I was 3 and our mother was never very stable due to mental conditions so he was more like a parent to me. His death was very sudden and horrific. I'm 18 now. What I'm here to ask is how to live with "survivor guilt" Many people tell me that it's not my fault but I can't help but think it is. Here's what happened... Actually if it weren't for him I wouldn't be here today. I had just gotten my driving permit and he was teaching me to drive. We were on a small 2 lane road and a SUV driver fell asleep, drifted and hit us head on. Being the experienced driver he saw what was going to happen, grabbed the wheel and swerved our car and attempted to put himself between me and the wheel so that he would take most of the hit, and It killed him. He died in my arms. The police told me that with the speed the SUV was going I would have died if it hadn't been for my brother. I can't get past it that maybe if i'd seen it too, I would have been able to do something. maybe I didn't do everything right after we were hit. How do i deal with this. When does the pain go away...
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #2
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So So sorry
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Old 05-07-2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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I am so terribly sorry.

I am no professional, but I would think you need some counseling. You are not at fault, and I think you need to know that.

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Old 05-07-2011, 03:50 PM   #4
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I am so, so sorry. I agree with the other poster who suggested professional counseling. Objective third parties can tell you the truth: It was NOT your fault, but you need to work through these feelings. God's peace to you.

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Old 05-07-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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Oh my, I am so sorry for you and all the things that you are feeling. I think every one of us has some level of "guilt" over a loved one's passing. Even though it isn't the same situation as yours, the feelings are still real-and very raw.
I can't say anything to bring your brother back, but I truly hope that you can start to feel better soon. I agree with the idea of going to a grief support group, or one-on-one counseling. At least it gives you the opportunity to say what's on your mind.

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Old 05-07-2011, 06:19 PM   #6
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My deepest sympathies go out to you on this very painful anniversary. You have asked a number of difficult questions, and while I am no expert I will do my best to try to give you some solace.

You asked how to deal with your brother's death, whether you did everything "right" and when the pain goes away. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is different for different people. When my mom died I was just a few years older than you are now and I was similar to you in that, at that point in my life, she was the most important person in my world. It had been just the two of us all of my life and there was no extended family. Like your loss, her death was also sudden and unexpected although I did have several days, instead of just a few minutes, from the time she entered the hospital (she had a cerebral aneurysm) to the day that she actually was allowed to pass away. But, the reality was that from the moment that her aneurysm occurred, my world and her's was irrevocably changed.

I spent the first several years just "going through the motions". I made some very foolish decisions, mostly financial, tried very hard to continue living my life as I had when she had been alive and continued making choices based upon what I thought she would want me to do.

I also steadfastly avoided actually dealing with the feelings of anger, loss, abandonment, fear, grief, depression, loneliness, guilt and shame that I felt regarding her death. No, I didn't cause her death any more than you caused the death of your brother. And no it wasn't in any way my fault any more than it is yours. But even though I knew this with the front of my brain in the back of my mind and in my heart I didn't believe it either. So, I shut things off and decided that not feeling these things would be easier.

What I didn't realize at the time was that in turning off the lows in my life I was also turning off the highs. As a result of trying to shield myself from these devastating lows I in turn gave up all of those exhilarating highs that life can provide. Nothing good or bad moved me much.

Then one day a couple of years past her death I was sitting in a restaurant with my new roommate and something struck me funny. It wasn't something huge, definitely not a knee-slapper but the dam broke and out flooded all the emotions that I had bottled away, all at once, right there in the middle of Denny's. I was convulsed with truly hysterical laughter and awash in uncontrollable tears.

That moment was the beginning, although I didn't know it yet, of my starting to heal. I did get a therapist and that was extremely helpful. Oddly, while you are seeing them it doesn't really feel like it is doing any good (at least it didn't for me) but it is kind of like going to the gym.

When you first start going you walk in with hopes, dreams, goals and no idea of what it will really take to get you where you want to be. As you continue to attend and do your physical (or mental) workout you start to feel things you haven't felt before. Areas you were never aware of are suddenly painfilled. Things will get so uncomfortable that you will really want to quit going.

Things you thought would be super easy prove to be much more difficult than you expected and some things you never thought you could do you find you are able to accomplish with ease. Then, one day, after weeks or months of work you wake up one morning and find that seemingly overnight things have changed. You are stronger than before. The areas that were tender to the touch are once again smooth and painless and the goals you started with are not only with easy reach but may already have been surpassed and replaced by others.

You will never forget having the pain of the loss of your brother but there truly will come a day when you won't continue feeling it. Much like a scar on your skin which fades with time but never truly goes away, emotional injuries leave their mark but there does come a time when you can fearlessly poke about in their vicinity without fear of reawakening the beast.

You didn't cause your brother's death anymore than you caused his life. There wasn't anything you could have done differently or "better" that would have changed the outcome. This was the essence of a senseless accident. A horrible, terrible, earth shattering senseless accident.

His love for you was demonstrated not just in that moment when he took the wheel but in all the moments in your lives together before that fateful one, when he earned his place in your heart.

And your love for him is demonstrated by your continued thoughts of him and in all the moments that earned your place in his heart as well.

There never will be a time in your life now or in the future when you won't spend some time in the land of "what if..." but as time goes on your visits there will become briefer and instead of dwelling upon what happened then you will be able to bring him forward into your joyful now.

Someday when you find your true love, he will be there with you. When you start a family of your own you will see glimpses of him in your child's face. You will still share all your private jokes and there will come a time when you will find it easier to remember his smile without seeing it through your own tears.

I don't know what you believe but here is what I do. I believe that those that we love don't really die until we stop remembering them. And I also believe that their love for us continues just as ours continues for them.

Again, I am truly sorry for your loss and hope that I have helped give you some small comfort.

Take care,

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Old 05-08-2011, 01:59 PM   #7
Earning My Ears
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I just want to say thanks to everyone who's shown support. Meskamooska, that was probably the most comforting thing anybody's said to me in this last year. You had me in tears reading this because of how well you understood what I was going through. The way you described those feelings are EXACTLY how i'm feeling...
I did get formal counseling about a month after his death but at the time it was much to painful and was making things worse, so the counselor suggested I take a break from it. I think I'm now ready to get back to it. Maybe they can talk me into driving again. It took me almost 2 months to even ride in a car, and to this day, I see a car like the one that hit us and panic.
Yesterday was the anniversary of his death and to honor him a few of his closest friends and I visited his grave and then had a meal together as we talked of memories of him. By doing this yesterday I realized really truly what a great person he was. He was always my hero not only in his last minutes of life but all throughout my life. He always called me "his girl" and ALWAYS put me in front of himself no matter what! Our mother was in and out of mental institutions when i was a kid and when I was 13 she was permanently institutionalized. On that day my brother made me a promise to me that he would not let me go, we would not get separated, I would not go into foster care, and he would always take care of his "baby girl". The day we crashed, as he was laying there taking his last breaths he said to me, "I told you i'd take care of you baby girl" those were his last words. He was gone by the time the paramedics arrived.

Thank you guys so much for listening and helping me deal with this. It's been really tough. I think the hardest part of all this is carrying on and becoming an adult on my own. It was just the two of us for a long long time. I'm getting through it though, these last few days were rough though...
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Old 05-09-2011, 07:54 AM   #8

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Please don't blame yourself. We all think what if, we should have and it won't change anything. I believe we all have a time and unfortunately, it was his time. He will remain forever in your heart. cherish your memories - he wants you to be happy and live your life.

I have a thread below too - I mention it because we recently lost my brother-in-law, my dad in December and my sister in March. We were all there holding her when she took her last breath - and til today - I say that was a gift just like giving birth. Yet at the same time - I have those memories every day and it just kills me. I would not trade it for not being there for her.

I did not post - that my future daughter-in-law - they just got engaged - Thanksgiving day - before my dad's passing - was involved in a head-on crash. Her grandmother in the back seat died instantly and her parents (coming back from dinner) had very serious (surgeries) injuries. I have an idea is all I want to say - so please don't beat yourself up.

You should consider going back to counseling and see if it helps. Sometimes someone to talk to like a family member or a very close friend helps too. I thought of going to a support group too but right now I need to try to push those thoughts out of my way more than brining them up. My loved ones are in my mind almost every minute of my awake moments.

You definitely should not be going through this alone - try writing your feelings down on a journal too. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. Everyone says time will help - maybe later on - who knows....

We are all here for you too.
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