Happy Birthday to my Little Brother

Who would have been 62 today.

Grief is a powerful emotion. It can be debilitating and overwhelming. It can consume people, preventing them from living their lives.

Although it sounds a fictional cliché, In some societies ‘professional’ mourners will attend funerals, intentionally provoking powerful outpourings of grief by almost theatrical displays of wailing and crying; perhaps ripping their clothing, throwing themselves to the ground, and thrashing around in distress. This helps to move the bereaved through the process of loss, by bringing feelings and emotions to the surface, rather than allowing them to linger unexpressed for months or years. It helps the mourners to move on – not to forget, but to allow life to continue.

I can understand this, having met people who have been unable to move through grief, seemingly trapped in an ‘I’m okay’ situation, refusing or unable to display their emotions but presumably storing their grief up inside, unexpressed. Refusing help. People who have appeared unable or unwilling to move on. I was fortunate, my grief striking me like a clenched fist and, for periods, I had no choice but to allow myself to weep and rail at fate. But this allowed me to eventually move on, my grief evolved into sadness.

And for anyone struggling with grief themselves, something that helped me at the time was to write a letter to my brother. In my case after remarking it had been a while since I had heard from him, I filled it with humour, using in-jokes we had shared, although other people might have found a different approach beneficial. And the letter sits on my computer still and every once in a while I read it, and it helps me to smile and remember and, of course it makes me feel sad.

But that’s good.

I shall read it again today, and remember.

34 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to my Little Brother

  1. Dear Mick,
    in the classical cultures of Greece and Rome it was normal to pay ladies to mourn, the μοιρολογήτρα. This theatrical mourning was a well paid job. As more of these ladies were mourning as higher the reputation of the survivors. This outsourcing of grieve seemed to have worked if we believe Roman authors.
    All best. Happy Easter
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed, Mick.
        I travelled to Ladakh quite some years ago and was lucky see this tradition work. For me as a Norhern European person it looked highly exaggerated and rather operatic but it had its magic.
        All the best. Happy Easter
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I experienced mourning rituals like those you describe in Liberia, and they were functionally the same. While the mourners weren’t professional, the relief they brought was clear. It was a way for the community to surround and support the bereaved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, certainly it lends support. In the case of Ladakh, as I commented to Klaus, the bereaved family is surrounded by the community who essentially handle every stage of the process for them. One of the best examples of society working that I know of.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The older you get, the more people you lose, sadly. There are random times when I am so overcome by grief that I don’t know what hit me and then after a good two or three minute cry, it’s over and I feel better for getting it out of my body. I’m sorry to hear about your brother, Mick. I know this feeling too well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband’s nephew’s wife was just shot and killed in a drive-by shooting last week, a random act of violence. She was 47 and they had a blended family of six, some still teenagers. That kind of loss follows everyone always. We don’t deal with death all that well, we humans. I am trying to remember that those lost to me are just in different form and I can talk to them anytime but that’s cold comfort when all you want is a hug. I hope you feel your brother’s presence around you today and it gives you peace. Also, I love the letter writing idea, Mick. Of course a writer would do that! Why didn’t I think of that? I have a long list of people to write to. ❤️🌈

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s so awful. It’s the sort of thing we don’t really think of happening, here. And you’re right – that will never go away. I hope they find a way to get through that and find comfort.

          Yes, it’s not the same as a hug. When my father died the thought came to me that he was only only a few hours away, but at the same time even further than the end of the universe.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I never really thought about the letter writing idea, but maybe there’s something to it. Many years ago, I lost a sister to cancer. She had a four-year-old at the time, and a few of us wrote letters to the boy with the intent they’d be given to him when he got older to help him know his mother. I don’t know if he ever got the letters, or where the copy of the one I wrote went, but I suspect it was cathartic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The theatrical mourning happens in Rajasthan,Mick. In fact there was a poem called ‘Rudaali’ based on those who make this a profession.
    I’m sorry about your brother. Hope you were able to think of him with a smile. I’m able to move on past my losses because I don’t hold back the tears and the sadness. I write about it, I cry and then finally there are no more tears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rupali mentions Rajasthan too, Smitha. I think it must be something that was probably very widespread at one time. In many ways, such a sensible move.

      And you’re quite right about dealing with it. Bottling up our emotions with a ‘stiff upper lip’ is no help whatsoever.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.