Response

Response #
8
Person who died
Brother
Category
Current experience of grief
Respondent details
18-24 | Female | British
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
My brother, P, died a year ago. We were incredibly close siblings, seeing each other regularly.
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
Immediately after my brother's death I felt like I was in a liminal space where nothing existed around me except my family. I couldn't envision much of a future for myself for a few months after. I was having difficulty eating and sleeping, had short term memory loss and would often have panic attacks whilst asleep. I was, and still am even a year after, in a state of disbelief, likely because the death was sudden.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
My relationships with my family and friends, have become a lot stronger. I have relied on them more than I ever have before and have been a lot more emotionally open with them since my brother died.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
I often feel like I'm in a bubble and that sometimes the external world doesn't really exist or isn't really important sometimes. I have also noticed myself finding increased beauty in the world and in friendships and relationships.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
I definitely felt like time didn't really exist in the first few months after my brother died, particularly future. As time has progressed it feels like my life is cut into two periods of time, one before my brother died and now, when he's gone.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
Physically my body has been affected. Immediately after my brother died, I had short term memory loss, difficulty writing and remembering facts, I was constantly exhausted and fatigued. I also had panic attacks whilst sleeping.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
I am a student so I had difficulty reading and writing my assignments for a long period of time. I was able to write my brother's eulogy very easily however, so this was also potentially due to a lack of determination.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
I think over time my grief has become a lot more complex. Rather than just shock and sadness which could be debilitating in the beginning, over time it has turned into a far more complex feeling. I think my grief now encompasses feelings of happiness for memories, gratitude for the people around me, guilt for not noticing potential signs of my brother's possible ill health, anxiety surrounding death and fear of forgetting.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
I have often found myself thinking I've seen my brother around when I see people who look like him.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
Birthdays, anniversaries, fathers and mother's day there is definitely a particularly notable absence. For me I also feel his absence when having difficulty with my university work as he always used to help me with this.
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
Yes I do sometimes feel his presence.
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
I only feel a connection to him based on my memories. If I am having a difficult day I feel a connection by remembering what he would have said.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
I have been writing down my memories of him, however small. I have been keeping his photos and birthday cards he wrote to me, looking at photos and listening to music he liked.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
I have avoided going to the area of [place name] where he died.
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
I think talking to people, making sure I sleep, journaling and exercise. I also think letting myself cry when needed has been very important.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
Everyone who I have told have been very understanding and supportive. But I have definitely felt even less people check in as time goes on.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
I think I am definitely more resilient and stronger than I was. I am a lot more decisive about what I need. I also have found so much more value and strength from my relationships with people.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
Grief over the death of a person is more persistent, changeable and something which I don't think I will ever recover from. I think you can 'get over' other forms of loss but I think you can never get over the death of person, so much so that I think it forces you to be the one to change and adapt.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
I think just how many emotions can be packed into the word 'grief'. I think as a society we are told that grief is equivalent to sadness but it is so much more complex. I think the complicated nature of what grief is is also one of the hardest things to deal with.
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?
Perhaps the relationship between what society expects from grieving individuals and how grief is portrayed and what grief actually is.