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My son is almost the same age as my brother was when he died.....

(58 Posts)
PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 22:43:39

.....and I am freaking out, a little bit.

My DB (feels odd to type that) died when he was 3yo and 3 days. He drowned in an accident. I was nearly 6 and saw his body pulled out of the water, heard the wailing and realised that he was dead and gone. My parents never spoke about him, ever. I was the only other child so it was quite lonely, until my sister was born a year later.

As I've grown up, I've developed a narrative about how my brother died and the detail of his age has always been carefully noted. Now my DS1 is nearly 3 (it's next week) and I am just irrationally afraid that something is going to happen. I am taking care to try and be just as careful as I ever was (i.e. not to over-egg it and inadvertently bring on an accident by striving to avoid one) but the fear is still there and I am not sure how to cope with it.

If anyone else has experience of relevant milestones like this then I'd be grateful if you have any advice for how to get through them. All I keep thinking is that in just over a week's time my son will be older than my brother ever was.

Thanks in advance.

trappedinsuburbia Thu 05-Jun-14 22:51:21

Im so sorry, could you speak to your parents or is that a no no

heyday Thu 05-Jun-14 22:54:10

My brother died aged 5 and I was 2. I don't even remember him but I am convinced that the emotional trauma that his death brought about has caused me untold problems. I don't believe that you can ever truly get over the horror of that day and when your family refuses to speak of it, which my family also did, then this leaves very large gaps in the healing process. What happened to your brother was a terrible terrible accident which is very very unlikely to happen again. If he had died of an inherited disease then there is a possibility of history repeating itself but he didn't. I wonder if you ever received grief counselling as it sounds as if you could benefit from it. It's totally understandable that you are feeling so anxious at the moment. Hopefully you will feel a little better when this landmark day has come and gone.

HypodeemicNerdle Thu 05-Jun-14 22:58:23

Gosh OP what a sad situation with your little brother.

I have no relevant experience so please feel free to ignore me if my suggestion isn't appropriate for you. My thought would be, could you mark your DS's 3yr and 3 day 'birthday' with something special linked to his uncle? Maybe your brother loved trains for instance so you and your DS could do something train related?

I know my mum found it very wierd when she approached and then passed the age that her own mum was when she died

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 05-Jun-14 23:01:09

My DSis died when she was 3yo and I was 5yo.
I could see my DMum becoming quite agitated as my DD headed gradually towards the age my DSis was when she died. I think we just had to wait. The stress diminished gradually once DD passed the milestone. We have always talked about my DSis a lot, have photos of her and my DCs know all about her - so she is very much a part of the family.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:01:43

I'm speaking to a counsellor at the moment, actually - my mum died 2.5 months ago and I needed some help to deal with all the contradictory feelings (she wasn't always that nice, briefly).

I've spoken to my dad a little bit, mentioning this fear. He just nodded and looked sad. I never had any sort of explanation at the time - I asked my dad about that as a result of talking to the counsellor and he said 'We didn't realise we were meant to comfort you.' hmm He wasn't even trying to be unkind - it was very matter-of-fact.

I'm sorry for your loss heyday. My little sister struggles with the ghost in the family, I think, esp as she knows full well that she probably wouldn't be here if he hadn't died.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:03:04

My elder daughter died of leukaemia shortly after she turned 9. Now, her younger sister is coming up to the same age and I just roll with it.

It's normal and natural feeling. Do what you can to minimise risk and don't feel bad or guilty AT ALL. It won't harm your son.

If only there were such a thing as inadvertently bringing on an event because you thought about it, well, then that would work both ways and my daughter would still be alive.

That's not how it works. You can think about something from now until the world ends, it makes no difference.


Hope the weeks pass quickly and uneventfully.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:04:48

Hypodeemic needle yes, I've heard that women go a bit odd when they approach their mum's age of death. I've got 26 years to go....

My brother was autistic (they told me this in passing at the age of 17!) so that explains why he never actually spoke. I used to read him Winnie the Pooh stories and he'd go 'Pooh'. That was it. I don't really have any other memories of him than that. It would be a nice idea though.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:07:06

'My brother died aged 5 and I was 2. I don't even remember him but I am convinced that the emotional trauma that his death brought about has caused me untold problems. I don't believe that you can ever truly get over the horror of that day and when your family refuses to speak of it, which my family also did, then this leaves very large gaps in the healing process. '

This! With bells on. 35 years ago, our neighbours' and good friends' son drowned, age 6. His younger brother was 3 and the elder brother's name was never mentioned nor was he spoken of or remembered.

The mother died early from cancer (she smoked like a chimney after that) and the surviving son, now in his late 30s, was able to tell me, we have been friends our entire lives, that he sincerely hoped we did not bury our child the way his brother was as it royally fucked him up for a long time.

We are very open about our daughter, our younger daughter was 6 when she died and her brother was 3.

She died of natural causes but was not terminal.

trappedinsuburbia Thu 05-Jun-14 23:07:07

Expat sad

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:07:18

Thank you expat, that is appreciated.

I think the idea of making the day in question (not DS1's birthday, obv) more about my brother is a very good one. Turn the focus onto remembering someone who has passed rather than fretting that another person may be about to.

trappedinsuburbia Thu 05-Jun-14 23:09:37

I think this is where the stiff upper lip has a lot to answer for and not in a good way.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:12:10

A very good idea, and share him! Share how you feel, who he was as you remember him, etc.

My father is half Native-American and finds the idea of never mentioned a dead relative utterly abhorrent and disrespectful. His mother had a first husband and daughter who died of flu in 1920, and he and his siblings were well aware of both, as were all us grandchildren.

They were honoured and remembered as were other close relatives who had passed on.

Why not?

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 05-Jun-14 23:12:52

I recently took my DD to my DSis grave. We live quite a long way away now. We turned it into a visit of the area I grew up in (looked at my school and house), planted some flowers on the grave, tidied it up a little, took some photos. I talked about my DSis. It was a lovely sunny day. It felt like we were making good memories together.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:13:38

I've found attitudes to death confusing over the years. My father's mother lost 7 out of 13 children confused as she lived in a 3rd world country and in those days it just happened. I remember her crying and talking about one of her lost babies and that my main thought was 'Gosh, she's TALKING about them.' I was slightly shocked and also a bit intrigued by the possibility that the dead were not completely lost to us.

I also found it nice when one of my younger cousins saw a photo of my brother on my laptop background. She said 'Oh, that's my cousin DB' even though she was born after he died and could never have met him. I was comforted by the fact that she acknowledged him as a part of her family. My grandmother came along then and looked too, exclaiming 'Oh, my grandson' as she saw him. My mother then came in, asked what we were looking at, saw the picture and went ballistic, insisting we shut it down and stop looking at the picture. There was a language barrier between us and my grandmother/cousin, so they were very confused.

It was a lesson for me that there isn't necessarily just one way to grieve - that we can remember our loved ones publicly too.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:15:24

Absolutely! We visit our child's grave and have a picnic there and eat cake. By chance, we found out a 12-year-old girl whose mother I know online lies just yards from DD1, so we visit her, too, when there.

We visit the grave of another boy who died of cancer when we visit a certain place, to say hello and thank you so much.

Death is part of life. It does not mean the dead do not go on living, because we are part of them, too.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:16:46

I like that notion. MrsCakes. My DB died in another country and according to their tradition, a) females can't attend the grave and b) the graves aren't marked. My mother said once or twice that she wished she knew where it was, although my dad recently confessed that he knew the rough area and had been back once or twice when visiting hmm

He also had a harrowing story of transporting DB to the cemetery in the backseat of a jeep with a driver for company, because that's what they had in place of hearses sad

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 05-Jun-14 23:20:26

I agree so much expat. The father of one of my school friends lies near my DSis, the husband and son of a friend of my DMum is on the other side. The names in the churchyard are the names of the families that I went to school with. They are all still part of the community. It makes it feel somehow companionable and comforting. That DSis is not alone. I think of these people and their families whenever I visit, and I know that their families think of us as DSis' grave is usually very neat and often has flowers on it on the rare occasions we visit.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:23:21

That sounds nice.... we still haven't decided what to do with my mum's ashes. They are sitting in a cupboard in her old house. It would be nice for them to actually be settled somewhere, I think. I'll suggest it to my dad and sister.

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 05-Jun-14 23:24:08

Plump - it sounds as though your father has stories to share, not just about your DBs death but about his life too. And understanding how traditions work and what was cultural expected in a given place at a given time can be really helpful in making sense of what happened.

Remembering and talking is so important.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:24:38

Just keep hold of them, when the time is right to do anything with them, believe me, you will know.

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:42:07

It's actually easier to talk to him about all these things now, because when she was here he'd have been too worried about upsetting her. However he does get worried about hashing over the past, as he sees it.

I've been going through my old photos and I have found a few nice ones of my brother - we don't have many as it was the eighties and film was expensive then. I am going to get one or two re-printed and actually display them. Because, you know what, I am fucking allowed to.

I don't mean to sound angry, but I've started feeling upset on his behalf for having effectively hidden him all those years. I know it's irrational, but still.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:44:55

He is your brother. You are allowed to remember him however you wish!

PlumpPartridge Thu 05-Jun-14 23:49:21

I think this might be a good route to go down - separating DS's birthday from the milestone of DB's death. My brother died at that age, but my son won't.

Or at least, it would be ludicrously ironic if he did.

I realised earlier that my two DSs have the same first name initials as me and my DB did (other order though). I had honestly never ever realised this before and it gave me a shiver down my spine. As if I need more irrationality.

expatinscotland Thu 05-Jun-14 23:51:00

It is only the society we live in that makes you feel irrational.

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