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anniereborn's avatar

What do I do now?

Asked by anniereborn (14765points) October 7th, 2013

My brother died on Saturday. He lives in Hawaii and I live in Illinois. I won’t be able to go to any memorials. He is being cremated anyway, so it will only be a memorial, not a traditional funeral. The memorial service is TBD as it could be done any time. Not sure if any of my siblings will be going.
Anyway, I just feel lost. I know all the details now. Been talking to my family a ton. I just don’t know what to do now. I don’t know how to process this. He was always so far away anyway, it doesn’t feel real at all to me. I’m someone that needs closure. How do I make it feel more real?

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20 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Grieving is a process. There is nothing that you can do to make it go away. It will take the time that it takes. What did he want done with his ashes? Will there be a grave site? If so, have someone tke a picture and send it to you. If his ashes are to be scattered ask someone to videotape that ceremony for you as well.

Have someone videotape the memorial service and send it to you. That way you can watch it and share in the remembrances.

janbb's avatar

I am sorry for your loss.

Maybe stage a memorial service for him locally with nearby family or friends of yours or his. You could discuss memories of him and tell anecdotes.

Or do something like the Jews do when they sit shiva. Have an open house where friends of yours can come and offer you their condolences.

I think some kind of ceremonial grieving – which does not have to have any religious content – could be of benefit.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Both good ideas. I learned to use the funeral or memorial service to provide some closure. Having someone else to share memories with helps me. Is this the first close relative you’ve lost?

anniereborn's avatar

@marinelife His ashes will just be going to his wife who will be keeping them. There will be no grave/memorial site. I have no idea when the memorial service will be. that’s one of the things that makes me feel like I am in limbo.

@janbb I’d like to do this with my local siblings, but they just aren’t like that. I dunno, maybe something can be worked out.

No, this is not the first. But it is the first in a long time. The last was my grandfather in 1994. But, he was local and we had the traditional funeral and all that.

JLeslie's avatar

So sorry for your loss. Can you plan a trip to where the ashes are? Maybe all your siblings together to meet sometime in the future and hold your own memorial? It can be months from now, it doesn’t have to be right away if right away is too complicated. My sister did not come to our maternal grandmother’s funeral, but she was able to come to the unveiling (when we unveil the grave marker) which was almost a year after her death. I think even being months later it was helpful. She was not happy to have missed the funeral having been rather close to our grandma. I had the same situation with my paternal grandfather. I didn’t feel very close to him, even though I saw him regularly. I was a young teen, I had not gone to his funeral, but a year later I went to the unveiling. My father said some words that really chenged how I perceived my grandfather. It was very meaningful to me, even so long after the day he had passed away.

You can do your own memorial now if it is important to you for closure. Invite family, have some of his favorite foods, tell stories, remember, etc. My great uncle gave his body to science and there was no service, no burial, and no grave and it upset my grandmother a lot (it was her brother).

Also, he just died, you will go through many emotions over the next few days and months most likely. Give yourself time to mourn his passing.

Judi's avatar

Do you have any family members near you? When my first husband died we held a memorial service in the town we lived in when he died and then we had another memorial in our home town. It doesn’t take much to have a memorial service, just two or three people reminiscing the good times. there could even be beer involved.
Talking, remembering, crying and laughing. Sometimes switching between rapidly, sometimes just lying in bed with a pillow over your head, sometimes punching a hole in the wall.
You run the whole gambit of emotions and it’s all normal because none of it is normal. There is no right way to grieve. Inevitably guilt will find a way to sink it’s insidious claws into your heart. Sometimes you just embrace it and sometimes you yell in it’s face. Sometimes you forgive yourself and sometimes you see it for the lie that it is.
I can say, “sorry for your loss” but I know how hollow that sounds.
I hope that through the painful process of grieving you find a beautiful part of yourself you didn’t know was there, and that you emerge a healthy more whole person.
Nothing I can say will take away the pain and I can’t promise it will go away, but in time it won’t dominate your every waking thought.
Live a life that would make your brother proud.
a virtual ((((hug)))) for you.

Emmy1234's avatar

Really sorry for your loss. My dad passed away last year and I am still not over it. I think about him every single day. I went to my dad’s funeral, packed up his house, and picked out the headstone and I still don’t feel like it’s real. I thought it would give me closure seeing him in the casket but it didn’t look like him at all. My dad lived 2 states away and we saw each other 1 time a year and spoke maybe 4 times a year over the phone. I think everyone is different when it comes to accepting something like this. I don’t know when I’ll find closure maybe tomorrow, maybe 15 years, or maybe never. Not being able to be there I think will make it very hard to have closure. I understand that sometimes things going on in our lives don’t allow us to be present when we really want to. I hope you are able to find it and lean on your family because they will need to lean on you too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@anniereborn Can you step forward and take the lead on organizing a local memorial service? Sometimes all it takes is one person to start the project and everyone else follows. It might be helpful.

rojo's avatar

@Judi has the right idea, again. Have a get-together/memorial service with local and semi-local family and any of his old friends that might still be around. I know when my father died the service really did nothing for me; it was the conversations and reminiscences over the next couple of days that helped me to come to terms with the sudden loss and gave me closure.
Pull out some old photo albums and look through them together, prepare and have a meal together. Toast your brother and celebrate your time together and his life.

anniereborn's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, I think I will talk soon to my siblings around here to have a get together. He moved away from Illinois (our hometown) about 40 years ago, so I think only my siblings would still remember him.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@anniereborn Good. I hope it helps all of your family.

Coloma's avatar

Yes to @marinelife sharing.
You are still in shock and denial, you can’t rush anything, and “closure” really is a phantom expression. All that really means is that you find your way to acceptance, which is the final stage of the grieving process.
I’m sorry for your loss.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

There’s Coloma shaming me for my poor manners. @anniereborn I’m sorry for your loss as well. Each one hurts. We’re here for you.

Sunny2's avatar

Plant something to remember him by. It may be as much as a tree or as little as a kitchen plant. It may not last, but that’s the point. None of us do.
You weren’t able to be with him as much as you might have wished, but that, too, is part of life. You shared what you could under the circumstances. Mourn by remembering the good things, not the things you regret. You have my condolences.

creative1's avatar

Have you called the airlines to see if they can give you a dicounted flight to attend the services, would the services give you that closure? I know we cremated my dad but we still had a full funeral and wake for him. Its all in choice of the family as to what is done. You could always set up a memorial service at your local church for any family members and friends to attend where you are now. After you could have them over to your home for coffee and….. So to everyone can talk about him and maybe bring you the closure you are looking for.

anniereborn's avatar

I’m afraid there is no way in the world I can afford to fly round trip to Hawaii. I know there will be no full service and wake there anyway.
Pretty much the only ones around my area that would still even know my brother anymore is myself and my 3 local siblings.

creative1's avatar

Then I would definately set something up and have a get together in honor of him and the talk would all be about the memories you all had with him. I don’t know how religious you are but if you do go to church most will be happy to have something put into a service in memory of a loved one. If not at very least and I also think it would be helpful to the mourning process is to have the get together with the other siblings. I know its the after the funeral get together that always helps me remember my loved one and reflect on times with them.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is very sad. Death steals so much from us. You have my deepest condolences.

I have nothing more to add than has already been said. Stage a ritual for yourself in the privacy of your room. Include whatever feels right. Do it for you.

Jeruba's avatar

@anniereborn, It sounds to me like your plan to get together with your local siblings will probably be the answer for you. If you can introduce even the briefest of formalities into it—just a simple “Hey, folks, can we pause for just a moment? Let’s just have a moment of silence for our brother Bobby”—you will feel the difference.

I agree with @Hawaii_Jake that you can also create your own ceremony in whatever fashion is meaningful to you.

My condolences. Coming to terms with loss is one of the greatest challenges we face.

CWOTUS's avatar

I am also very sorry for your loss, @anniereborn.

May I suggest, especially if it seems that you may not receive a lot of support from your siblings and remote family, that you make up your own memorial ceremony, no matter how elaborate or simple, that means something to you to memorialize and mark your brother’s passing. Invite them to join or not, but don’t depend on others to mark the event or participate.

As others have said, grieving is a process, and when the “traditional forms” for that aren’t observed, or when they aren’t helpful when they are, then it’s a good time to invent and observe our own. It’s a long process, too. I lost my father 10 years ago and my mother 9–½ years ago, and I find that there’s more for me to process, even now.

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