Feeling ashamed of my grief after brother’s death

Hi! I lost my brother 7 years ago when I was 13 and he was just 18 due to a drug related accident. I guess I’m writing because I feel really ashamed about my grief and that’s why I can’t talk about it to anyone and I can’t ever express it. I feel like it’s not acceptable to be this sad anymore after so many years. I still get panic attacks thinking about his death and I have days where I can’t function because I again suddenly feel the grief so strongly. I am generally able to live my life and even enjoy it while feeling like this but I also feel like people think that I’m somehow supposed to be ”over it” by now and only a little bit sad. There are days where I can’t eat or sleep because I feel so guilty about being alive and I hate that every single happy moment in my life is also filled with sadness because he isn’t here to share or experience any of that. The significant moments in life, happy or sad, highlight his absence. I often feel like I shouldn’t have been able to make it this far in life and it feels almost unnatural to be alive and I recognize that that is crazy and irrational thinking but even knowing that doesn’t make me feel any different.
It feels like I have just found more aspects to grief. As I grew older and myself turned 18, only then did I fully realize that he was just a kid when he died. Everyone keeps telling me that this age is the beginning of my life and all I can think about is how he didn’t get the chance to have that. Another thing is that I’m starting to forget every year more and more what he looked and sounded like. I only have the few same old photographs of him but they can’t remind me of his different expressions, how he laughed and talked. And that feels like losing him again. I almost wish that I could just completely forget everything about him OR remember him and his voice and face still very clearly and that I wouldn’t have to live in this middle stage where I can’t forget but I can’t quite remember either.
I once told someone that my brother died and they asked when and when I said 6 years ago they said ”oh well that was so long ago so it’s not as bad for you anymore”. I think that person meant well and certainly I have been able to learn to live with my grief every day since then. But it doesn’t mean that the grief wouldn’t still be there every single day. Because even after 7 years it hurts just as much as when I first heard about it but I’ve just learned to live with that hurt.

I lost my sister in April this year. Its, still early days for me. I described my greif as haveing someone remove my heart trample on it pop it back in and then expect me to continue my day and my life.
I found that people focus on the spouse the parents and as a, sibling they don’t realise how utterly devasteing it is to loose a brother or sister.
1 year ten years 7 years I don’t think I’ll ever get over her loss. Like you I feel guilty if I’m haveing a happier day I feel she should be here. I feel sad at what she’s missing out on and will never now do. She was older than you’re brother 50.I can’t imagine what it’s, like when you loose someone so much younger I only know the pain of looseing a sibling.

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I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your brother at such a young age. There’s no timeline on grief, and it is understandable that it still affects you - it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Especially as you have reached and passed the age he was when he died, it is natural that will bring up lots of thoughts about him and what he has missed out on.

Do you feel that you have had lots of support and a chance to talk about your grief when it happened and as time went on? Or do you think this is something that has been mostly bottled up over the years? It’s really important to have outlets for your emotions, as bottling them up can make things worse, so I’m glad you’ve been able to write things down here.

The memory of your brother will always be with you, but it does sound as though you might benefit from getting some additional support to help you deal with the panic attacks and reduce those bad days when you don’t feel able to function.

Here at Sue Ryder, we offer an online bereavement counselling service, where you can speak to a counsellor via video chat. Find out more: www.sueryder.org/counselling

Alternatively, The Mix offers telephone and webchat counselling specifically for people aged under 25, if you might find that would work better for you: https://www.themix.org.uk/get-support/speak-to-our-team/the-mix-counselling-service

Mind also has information and resources about panic attacks, which you might find useful.

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Hi. JeanH. Welcome. I am so sorry you feel as you do, but delayed grief can be as strong as when it first happened. I just wish I had a magic wand to help you, but alas no such thing exists. But why are you ashamed? There is nothing to be ashamed of in grieving. Emotions will come and have to be allowed to. But you are alive and he is gone, is that it? You can talk freely on here because everyone knows and understands. ‘Over it by now’. Oh yes, and how many times have we all heard that! But what is ‘by now’. What sort of measurement can you place on such grief? Have you had any counselling? If not it may be a good idea to talk it over with your GP. They can offer advice on the various services available. Sue Ryder also have a counselling service. No one is ever to blame for what has happened. It’s life. You certainly should have no regrets. You love for your brother is self evident.
That love is not gone and never will. Did you grieve when it happened? By that I mean allow your emotions to come out. You were very young and must have been so confused. Now you are grown up the shock of what happened may be beginning to emerge. Go with it. Please try not to feel angry or ashamed, it’s so unnecessary and will only cause more pain.
Take it easy, and above all give yourself time and space to grieve. Take no notice of what the uninformed say to you. Unless they have been there they can never know. Blessings. John.

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Hello Jean-So sorry for your loss, There is no expiration date on grief. Society foists these feelings of shame and embarrassment upon us, because others “assume” we’ve had ample time to grieve, This is rubbish. We never get over the devastating loss of our loved ones. Granted, we learn to live with it. We carry on, and even appear to be fine, but the truth is we carry that pain in out hearts all of the days of our lives. You were so young when you lost your brother, as was he, At the tender age of 13 you had not developed the capacity to process the gravity of this catastrophic life event . You likely suppressed these feelings of shock and confusion, and at this juncture ( passing age 18 yourself) your grief is now flooding back with overwhelming intensity. I understand the concept of “survivor’s guilt.” I lost my younger Sister two years on, and I still ask why I am still here. Why her and not me? Your feelings are valid, and all part & parcel to this grief journey. Try to ignore those judgmental comments by others, they have not walked in your shoes. I would suggest seeking out a counsellor to help you work through these feelings, in a safe and secure environment. And of course you can always post here. There are so many kind & compassionate folks on this forum, who will be here for you. Take care, and be gentle with yourself.
With caring thoughts, :broken_heart: Sister2

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Hi Paula-So sorry for the loss of your sister. I too lost my precious Sister, and your description of the ensuing grief resonates with me. I have compared it to “an amputation of my soul.” I have been left empty and hollow . It is a bit over two years for me, and life has never been the same, nor have I. I concur that people often dismiss or minimise the grief of the remaining sibling, and rather focus more on parents & spouses. Such is the hierarchy of grief. Hench my recommendation for a “Sibling Loss” category on this site. I also relate to feeling guilty that I am still here to do things that she & I used to do together. I feel for you in these early days of your grief journey. Here for you anytime you need to share your pain.
Xxxx Another Sad Sister

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It’s made worse by the fact that her husband is dateing and out with other woman, he’s had them at there home and stayed over at hotels. It stinks. Yes I know he’s doing nothing wrong technically but I feel hurt over it. I’ve cut contact with him.

I’m so sorry for your loss. Like you said it’s true that other people might often get more attention than the siblings which is why I think it’s good to find places like this to talk with people who might better understand you and your grief.

Thank you for your kind response John! I guess I haven’t properly let myself grieve because of feeling ashamed of it which I do know is stupid and I’m working on it. But again thank you, it feels good to know that people understand.

Thank you Sister2 and I’m so sorry for your loss! It is good to finally hear people say that grief is okay because I’ve always felt like you shouldn’t express it because it makes you look weak or something which of course isn’t true

Never “weak” Jean. It takes tremendous courage to express our grief, and leave our selves vulnerable. But how comforting and validating it is to hear someone say “I understand, and I care.” You will hear those words here.