I wanted to yell, “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” I wanted to run over and give them both huge hugs. I wanted to smile and uncork the champagne. But most of all, I wanted Izzy.
My brother got engaged to his wonderful wife on Christmas Eve 2018, only a few months after we lost Izzy. I am sure I mustered up a few congratulatory words, but I’d be lying if I said I remembered. I was in the room physically, but emotionally I was in my own world.
My wife and I opted out of Thanksgiving that year, and if not for the engagement, we would have stayed home for Christmas as well.
How can you be happy when you are drowning in your own grief? The answer, at least for me, was that I couldn’t. I wanted to be there for my brother, but all I could think about was how Izzy wasn’t there. We were a family of three, but only two of us still lived in this world.
That holiday season was pure hell. Not only for my wife and I, but I suspect for my family as well. One son is celebrating a huge milestone, while the other is stuck in a pit of despair. Everyone did their best to balance an impossible situation. I will always be grateful for that.
For those who are navigating this for the first time, please know it is ok not to have all the answers. My advice would be to prioritize yourself, your spouse, and, should it apply, your living children. In short, it is ok to be selfish. You can do more damage trying to appease others’ expectations. Most importantly, those who love you will eventually be understanding. “Understanding” is different than “understand”, it is a privilege not to understand.
Take care of yourselves.