Grief - my brother's coffin is carried from the churchMy eldest brother Tony was 69 when he unexpectedly died a few weeks ago. The emotions associated with grief aren’t static, they evolve. When the death of someone close to us occurs, nothing appears black and white. I oscillate. I have described how I have felt since as cloudy. I am probably not one to compartmentalise, I like to wear my emotions. So, it seems I wear a fog and it lingers.

Perhaps this lack of clarity is the brain trying to process, understand and decode the emotions that are being worked through.

A family photo circa 1963

I am the youngest of 7 children. Already, two of them have died. My brother Mark died a in July, 2008, Mum in October 2012 and my father when I was in my early twenties.  My father’s death was the most painful. I was too young and not yet at ease in my relationship with him. I thought at the time, that it was impossible for someone to know what the feeling of intense pain and loss is like until it happens to them. But each time it is different. Each is a reaction based on my emotional journey with that person.

My mother’s death at 92, a release from her suffering, was almost a celebration. She was very loving. In her last years, I had spent what I considered a lot of time with her and a lot of that time was also with Tony. The three of us, and whoever else we were with, enjoyed chatting away, enjoying simple pleasures like basking in sunshine. We felt we were making hay.

My brother tony dies 2 days after this photo

A couple of days before he died, Tony and I walked around Centennial Park with one of our nieces. The last photos I took of him of him alive are naturally special. More than that it is a record that we had made the time, and appreciated the simple pleasure of being with each other. Too often these are too few.

All family are special, but many would attest to the importance of Tony in their lives. I was/am no different. Tony was going to be a very important part of the next stage of my life. We talked a lot, used Skype, facebook, emailed, phoned. We talked about lots of things like the mystery of life, sex, music, but mostly we talked about family, his family, my family, our family. For Tony, the families’ happiness was the foundation of his happiness. These conversations, this time spent has been an important part of my sense of well being and I had banked on this essential part of me being around for a while –  another decade I had thought. As his wife, Robbie said; we have been robbed. And there’s the sorrow, there’s the cloud.

Our last words to each other were I love you. We didn’t always say it but it wasn’t unusual either. That helps. It is the memories that help with grief. The little things, the snippets of conversations, the enjoyment and the understanding of what we had going that makes the loss,, while painful, bearable.

The 16th century saying is such a profoundly simple truth.

‘Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say. Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away’

Tony and I lived and loved together, we made the most of it.

We are in the wettest June for six years, though it seems wetter. It has rained and rained and on this wet Sunday morning, the sun has appeared, the first time, it seems for days.

My remaining brothers at the wake