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My brother died


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I'm not sure where to post this so here goes. I have one brother, he's 10 yrs older than me. We never got along even when I was a kid, he didnt want a pesky little sister. I used to try hard to have a relationship with him but it didnt work out very well. Time marched on, we were not close. In fact it was like living with a third adult in the house along with my parents because he's that much older than me. But I did try to be friends and in contact. We had a sort of weird email-only relationship as adults even tho we lived only an hour apart. I'd go years without seeing him as he never wanted to get together, only invited us to his house at Christmas, and that was every other year. Then he'd act like we were bothering him, so it was not a fun time at all.

 

I moved with my husband and kids about 3 hours away (over 20 yrs ago) and we kept on with our odd email-only relationship. The longest I went without seeing or speaking to him via phone was at least 10 years, so we were definitely not close. After our mother died 7 yrs ago he seemed to get quite hostile towards me and lashed out via email regularly. He then took to phoning my husband on his cell to tell him what an awful person I was. Hubby blocked him so that stopped the calls.

 

He inherited everything mother had save for a few bucks my kids and I got. He made sure I got nothing from her house and all I had wanted was one desk that our dad earned the money to buy for the family. He made sure I didnt get it. In the end I said screw this, I dont need to be treated like this anymore by him or anyone else, and I stopped emailing him. We then had zero contact for about 5-6 years.

 

I moved about a month ago and no extended family had my new phone # and today my daughter called to tell me my brother had died 3 days ago. He had her phone # in his computer and a cousin contacted her as nobody had my current #. Seems he had cancer for about 1.5 yrs and about a month ago he was on palliative care at home, so he knew he was going to die. I admit I am sad for a loss of any life, but I am not distressed at all that he's gone as he treated me like sh*t all my life and I truly can't muster up any feelings of sadness or despair.

 

What gets me is this cousin knew he had cancer and it seems like he was sworn to secrecy as nobody else knew. I am more annoyed and upset that my brother knew he was going to die and never bothered to even email me, never mind phone me. It hurts that he disliked me to the point of making sure I didnt know about his condition and therefore had no chance to try to make amends. I'm not sure I would have tried, if I could have, but I probably would. So that's what upsets me the most. I wasn't worth being told.

 

I can't quite figure out how I feel about all of this. He's likely been cremated by now and there's a memorial service in early June for him and I am not sure I want to go. To top it all off, he had a PhD in psychology so he was not a stupid man at all, just very bad with a relationship with me.

 

Any thoughts?

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Thank you. I am baffled by all of this. Any chance I had to try to communicate with him was taken away from me and now is not going to happen. I really wonder why people are this hostile/angry/negative etc. None of us are perfect but most of us aren't that bad that we need to be excluded from such important things in life.

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We're supposed to say that we're sorry for the loss of your brother and that's one's initial reaction when you learn of a death of a close family member. In this case it doesn't really apply here. I'm sorry you were robbed of the chance to reconcile your differences and to not be able to grieve him in a healthy way. I can only imagine there are some conflicting emotions around this. Feelings of anger are probably normal and possibly a sign that you are processing this loss in your way. At least I hope so. I'm not sure I would go to his funeral if I were in your circumstance, it wouldn't be appropriate with these conflicting feelings. I would only go if there was someone there that I cared about that would have wanted me there.

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I think it might help to talk to your brother and resolve your relationship.

 

Sometimes it's useful to treat death as a transition, a move from one place to another. Talk to him. It will force you to untangle your thoughts and find peace.

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I am more annoyed and upset that my brother knew he was going to die and never bothered to even email me, never mind phone me. It hurts that he disliked me to the point of making sure I didnt know about his condition and therefore had no chance to try to make amends. I'm not sure I would have tried, if I could have, but I probably would. So that's what upsets me the most. I wasn't worth being told.

 

Any thoughts?

 

I am sorry for your loss. When it comes to losing a family member or someone close, whatever one feels (or not feels) is valid. I don't think that this was about you not "worth being told" though. To me it sounds like he had very complicated and conflicting feelings about his upbringing/own life existence in general and in such cases family members such as siblings can become an "easy target"/outlet for personal frustrations that have nothing much to do with them. Having a PhD in psychology could be another indication that there was something internal troubling him, that he was trying to resolve. To me it sounds like something was bothering him in his own life but sadly he was never able to resolve it. You have until June to decide whether you want to go or not. By then your feelings may have become more clear and you can do what you feel. Either is OK as long as you are in peace with it. In my opinion, he didn't necessarily dislike you as much as there was something he disliked within himself and sadly he used your relationship as an outlet. Human existence can get very complicated at times.

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It is always dangerous when we assume motivation.

 

Instead, I suggest,

 

It hurts that I didn't know. I'm angry that you took that choice away from me, the choiceoh how to use that time worth you. I'm sad that you felt so much pain that isolation was easier. I can't say why you did what you did, but I wish you had felt open and welcome, that you could have trusted others, me, with your story.

 

I see why you didn't. Always so much anger, all of your life. I wish it weren't so.

 

...

 

And so on.

 

This allows you to focus on his actions, and not make assumptions about his opinion of you based on your interpretation on his actions.

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My heart goes out to you, Mel. ((((HUG))))

 

As an older sib to a younger sister, I lived out the same kind of resentment toward 'the baby' who entered my home as millions of other kids who outgrow that stuff. But your brother grew deeper problems over the course of his life, and while that's very sad, those were likely only tangential to the one he never resolved about having a sister.

 

That speaks nothing about you. Brother spent 10 years as a household star, and he was not equipped for any perceived competition as he bordered puberty. He likely already had developed certain issues that would have played out in different ways over time, but you were a convenient scapegoat for him to channel the rage and resentment that courses through adolescence. At puberty, his problems got worse instead of better, including his inability to adjust normally to a sibling.

 

That speaks of him, not you, and while you probably know all of this already, I hope it helps to see that it's apparent even to an unknown stranger.

 

To top it all off, he had a PhD in psychology so he was not a stupid man at all, just very bad with a relationship with me.

 

It's not about intelligence, it's about mental illness. Plenty of PhD's excel at their studies because they are voraciously fascinated with their own problems and their ability to intellectualize them even while they cannot resolve them.

 

Instead of growing more mellow and loving over time, brother used his studies to fuel his rationalizations for feeling ripped off. Every person I've ever known with emotional issues has been fluid in material on psychology in order to ascribe to themselves convenient justifications for what ails them--especially if it means blaming those who are powerless to nurture them into liberation.

 

While it's difficult for you to separate yourself out from brother's projections, please know that an objective observer can see this as having absolutely zero to do with your lovability--or anything about you--other than the unfortunate position of your birth in relationship to one who already had problems brewing that would only grow larger and more complex throughout his life.

 

Regardless of your choice to attend brother's service or not, I can appreciate how much pain this has likely caused you throughout your lifetime. I hope you will consider working with a counselor at this time, because someone who is trained to help you process this stuff might help you to resolve it in ways that you may not be able to conceive of right now.

 

Please write more if it helps, and I'm holding you in my thoughts.

Cat

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I think it might help to talk to your brother and resolve your relationship.

 

Sometimes it's useful to treat death as a transition, a move from one place to another. Talk to him. It will force you to untangle your thoughts and find peace.

 

Ummm...he's dead, I can't talk to him.

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We're supposed to say that we're sorry for the loss of your brother and that's one's initial reaction when you learn of a death of a close family member. In this case it doesn't really apply here. I'm sorry you were robbed of the chance to reconcile your differences and to not be able to grieve him in a healthy way. I can only imagine there are some conflicting emotions around this. Feelings of anger are probably normal and possibly a sign that you are processing this loss in your way. At least I hope so. I'm not sure I would go to his funeral if I were in your circumstance, it wouldn't be appropriate with these conflicting feelings. I would only go if there was someone there that I cared about that would have wanted me there.

 

Thanks for your reply. I'm note disappointed in him not telling me of his condition than I am angry. It makes me feel like he never got over having me as a sister, that he spent his live wishing I was not a part of it. There is no funeral per se, but a memorial service in early June. As of now I am not going. Sure I may change my mind but I doubt it. You can't treat people like crap forever and then expect them to show up at your memorial.

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I am sorry for your loss. When it comes to losing a family member or someone close, whatever one feels (or not feels) is valid. I don't think that this was about you not "worth being told" though. To me it sounds like he had very complicated and conflicting feelings about his upbringing/own life existence in general and in such cases family members such as siblings can become an "easy target"/outlet for personal frustrations that have nothing much to do with them. Having a PhD in psychology could be another indication that there was something internal troubling him, that he was trying to resolve. To me it sounds like something was bothering him in his own life but sadly he was never able to resolve it. You have until June to decide whether you want to go or not. By then your feelings may have become more clear and you can do what you feel. Either is OK as long as you are in peace with it. In my opinion, he didn't necessarily dislike you as much as there was something he disliked within himself and sadly he used your relationship as an outlet. Human existence can get very complicated at times.

 

Thanks for your reply. I often wondered if there was something up with him internally that caused him to be the way he was towards me. He never actually knew me, didnt take any interest in anything I did, or what my kids were doing etc. Just not interested. It's weird that a sibling can have almost zero interest in family members. Hard to say what was going on in his mind, I had many years to try to sort that outing my own head and never did.

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Catfeeder thanks for your insight, it was very helpful and enlightening. I think you are pretty accurate on his outlook from the time I came along. I'd thought much the same things as you have said. I always felt on the outside looking in, and he was also mother's favourite child, which sure didnt help. There's plenty of other stuff that went on that's too long to get into here but I am pretty insightful and have had many years to mull it all over and decipher what's what. While my husband is too close to the situation, he is very insightful too and sees things I dont, so he's been good to talk to about this mess. A counsellor could help and I am certainly not against seeing one, so thanks for that idea.

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Ok, I understand now what you meant. I have "talked" to him over the years and he didnt know it. Dont think it helped anything other than making me feel better for voicing my opinion.

 

Helping yourself feel better by shifting your perspective is what's it all about. None of us can change anyone else unless they want to be changed. If he didn't want to see your perspective, or couldn't see it through his own noise, or needed to hang onto his view as a way protecting himself from some truth that was more difficult for him... it's hard to say. All we can do is change how we think about things.

 

It seems false, but it's actually more true, to strip out all of the stuff about how he perceived you, because you don't really know. Sometimes - especially with someone dealing with internal conflict - what is said and what is deeply felt are very different things.

 

My own brother was violent towards me when I was a child. I was the target upon which he could fling his anger. It seemed I was the cause of his anger, but I never was. It's more like, he was lightning and I was a metal rod nearby.

 

Decades later, and for decades now, that has become obvious. He is incredibly smart, and completely dysfunctional, and he and I have an enduring soft spot for each other. All he has ever wanted was to feel loved and accepted. He never has felt that, maybe never will. I don't know. He almost died a few years ago. I don't know anything more about him then I did before. Only, that I have resolved to love him like crazy, and keep a big distance between us. As a human, he drives me freaking batty and I find his conversation minimally tolerable. As a heart, I find him rather like a puppy. So I see his heart, and keep the human part out of my regular life. No favors, no phone calls, no invitations, except ones that include the whole family crew.

 

And when I see him, I love him up with eye contact, big hugs, and hellos. Then I find a way to be somewhere else in the group.

 

I've never discussed any of this with my brother. It is how I came to place that allows me to love him at no cost to myself.

 

So that's my story. Not the same. Still, its similar in that It's his struggle, and whoever is nearby is bound to get mud on them. He almost died, then recovered, and the same dynamic continues. I mean, he has two advanced degrees and I don't think he even has a job, it is so difficult for him to set personal boundaries, to not get hurt - which he displays as anger, to stay level headed.

 

With your brother, it may have been similar. His struggle, and the dynamic between you, reinforced over the years through repetition. Yet, nothing to do with his view of you, really, and it doesn't have to be the only lens through which you think of him.

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I'm so sorry!!!

 

I have an older brother by Seven years and his and my relationship is not good at all! I doubt he would care if I died and I would feel the same as you do now if he died.

 

I understand the mixed emotions you are feeling. For so long you wanted some kind of friendship but he disliked you and you never knew why.

 

I still say now that he has passed away, try to forgive him as much as you can. Take the time too grieve, he is still family.

 

Where he is there is a different clarity then we have on earth. I don't know if you believe in that.

 

 

Hugs!

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I'm so sorry!!!

 

Where he is there is a different clarity then we have on earth. I don't know if you believe in that.

 

 

Hugs!

 

Thanks, I dont believe in any sort of afterlife and have no idea if he believed or not, I rather doubt it. I am so used to his crap towards me that it's borderline impossible to think any other way, but I do try to keep an open mind about what may have made him the way he was. He too had a serious injury to his head which did alter his personality, and that was about 7-8 yrs ago, before mother died. After he recovered he had an altered memory of events and became more hostile towards me than he ever was before. It was about 3-4 yrs into that period that I quit emailing with him as the abuse was too much. He still had his intellect and sense of humour but was so mean to me.

 

I will get over this, I do tend to bounce back from adversity fairly well, I dont hang onto things especially negative things like this. It's going to take a while, tho.

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Thanks for your reply. I'm note disappointed in him not telling me of his condition than I am angry. It makes me feel like he never got over having me as a sister, that he spent his live wishing I was not a part of it.

 

You could opt to flip that on it's side, and credit him for recognizing that his resentment was irrational, and he was likely ashamed of himself after each time he acted out. So rather than continue those cycles during his weakened state, he opted to avoid giving you information that might draw you to him.

 

This may have been less a decision that you didn't 'deserve' to know, and more an attempt to prevent his physical illness from baiting you while his mental illness could not be controlled and contained.

 

There is no funeral per se, but a memorial service in early June. As of now I am not going. Sure I may change my mind but I doubt it. You can't treat people like crap forever and then expect them to show up at your memorial.

 

You could also view this through a different lens. Some people view these services as more for the living. If there might be anyone in your shared history that could be beneficial for you to see, you might enjoy some comfort from the experience rather than making it about a tribute to brother.

 

I'm not implying a rightness to any of these views, just offering some alternatives you could find useful.

 

Head high. You may find yourself cycling through various views. Just allow them to roll through until you discover which are most beneficial to you.

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Thanks catfeeder, you have some wise words!

 

Wiseman2 I think I agree with you that there really isn't unfinished business now. Yeah death is so final.

 

I think there was likely a lot going on within him that I had no clue about and never will. He was a very private and closed person, so the odds of anyone else being able to shed light on his actions probably doesnt exist.

 

There is nobody I particularly care to see who would be at his memorial. There's not many cousins and most are a long distance away so not likely to go to it. If I wanted to go my husband would go with me, but so far I will not go.

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