Two years ago yesterday my younger brother, Charles (the one without a fedora), ended his fight with a glioblastoma. A glioblastoma is an aggressive malignant brain tumor. At age 43, his battle was over.
I despise cancer!
I immediately wanted to take the high emotional and spiritual road that says, “This was for the best. He is no longer suffering, etc.” He might not be but we – the survivors did and in some ways still are.
Grief is real.
I originally posted this article on grief the week of Charles’ death. I know that since that time and currently others faced and continue to face the same emotions and concerns our family faced. I am revising this for you.
Those that study grief tells us that there are five stages to the grieving process:
- Denial & Isolation: This isn’t happening, this can’t be real, I am dreaming, or similar thoughts run through our minds.
- Anger: We lash out at family, friends, co-workers, hospital or medical staff, God, or our loved one who is suffering.
- Bargaining: We try to regain a sense of control. The “if only” stage. If only I had had more regular check-ups, If only we had _______________.
- Depression: Depression over the financial costs of the illness and funeral. We begin to wish we had only spent more time with them and less time bring busy. We think about the deceased and intensely miss them.
- Acceptance: We know what happened is real. We have moved passed anger and worked through our bargaining stage. We still miss them and will still feel sad all along, but we are recovering. We focus on the good things our loved one left us and we smile, maybe for the first time in a long time.
Everyone moves through these stages at different speeds, some take very little time, others may take years. You may even experience more than one of the stages simultaneously. The best we can do as we grieve is to allow ourselves to experience the grief as it overcomes us. To quote the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Resistance is futile.” Resisting grief only acts to lengthen the time it takes you to go through the stages.
In other words, it is okay.
- It is okay to deny the reality of the situation for a time. It took me a week or more to accept that my brother had a dangerously malignant tumor that would eventually take his life.
- It is okay to be angry. Confession time. I am still ANGRY at cancer! I am still ANGRY that this world broken by sin and Satan takes life.
- It is okay to bargain and try to control. I have wondered if I should have seen changes in my brother’s personality that are common with glioblastomas.
- It is okay to be sad, to cry, to be depressed. I was here too. In moments of solitude I would tear up. Re-writing this two years later is harder than I thought it would be. I think of song he liked, I see a meme of Kermit the Frog and I laugh and cry. Charles did a spot on Kermit imitation. I miss him.
- It is okay to accept the loss. I think I have generally accepted that Charles is no longer living. I know life goes on for the survivors. I don’t like it, but I know.
I talked with my parents on the phone last night on the anniversary of Charles’ death. I called to talk about a number of things, but we also talked about what day it was.
Death is a part of life. Allow me to put on the “preacher hat” (I never really take it off, but you know what I mean) and encourage you to ensure that you are ready for that day. In Christ, we may lose a battle, but He has won the war.