I’m funny about grief. Somewhere along the way I learned if it isn’t your close person, you can’t claim the sadness as your own.
I’ve been hesitant than to talk about our family’s recent loss. My husband’s cousin died last week and the old cliche that the world has lost its light has never felt less cliche.
I hesitated to share here because his story, their story, is not mine. We are devastated with sadness here, but as usual I have felt unentitled to it.
Then it hit me; when someone like Brian dies, everyone feels it deeply, because that is how he lived: affecting everyone deeply. So, I thought I should share. Because, if you weren’t one of the lucky ones to know him, you should.
I met Brian when he was a young boy. I’ve been around a while and he was of the younger crew of cousins. The Husband gave me some Intel on Duchenne MD before the family party at Brian’s parents’ house, so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard.
It turns out, I was caught off guard when I met Brian because he was just a typical tween boy, cute, funny and even a little sassy as all kids his age are apt to be. The thing that strikes me most about that meeting though was that he was surrounded by other kids his age and they were acting as if there was nothing at all different about Brian. Just goof-ball eight or nine year olds having fun at a party.
There was no pity or sadness, because Brian didn’t live that way. That’s the thing about him, Brian lived more fully and vibrantly than most anyone I know. He was constantly surrounded by friends and cousins and lately nephews because people just wanted to be in his space. He was smart, and funny and welcoming and warm and when he smiled you could actually feel it in your soul.
He talked to my kids like peers and always knew what we were up to in our little world and would always ask about it. He just made family gatherings better simply by being who he was. I suspect that is true of any gathering that he attended. Brian made the world better. It’s that simple.
Brian’s loss is not mine, like it is his mom’s or dad’s or brothers’ or sister’s. I tried not to claim the grief so deeply. But when someone touches your life like Brian touched all of ours, it’s impossible not to feel the loss.
We’ll miss you so much, Brian. I hope all the movies in Heaven are King of Film approved.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.
Amy, Using Our Words says
Sending you love as you miss this sweet man who touched your family’s hearts. My boys have friends who are brothers who are both fighting the same battle as Brian. Their spirit and zest for life is so contagious and I loved hearing about Brian’s life too. Thank you for sharing your love and grief.
Amy, it may seem a weird thing to say, but I’m guessing your boys are very lucky to know those two. That indomitable spirit is something to behold.
Grief is grief in my book, and when we lose someone to death, our hearts break from longing and missing then, no matter what the ‘official’ family relationship is. Your loss of someone special to you gives you a legitimate place in the mourning for your husband’s cousin in my book. You wrote a lovely and loving tribute. Sending you warm wishes for peace in your grief.
Thank you. I’m learning.;)
Cristie, Thank you for writing this. The overwhelming sadness I have felt since Sunday morning, at first, was making me feel guilty and unentitled as well. I have been in this family a lot less longer than you, so imagine how unentitled I have been feeling. This week, during moments by myself, I have found myself getting very emotional and thinking non stop about that branch of the King family. And at times I felt my grief was disproportionate to my relationship with Brian. But then I started to really think about it and I have come to the conclusion that I am entitled to my grief because not only am I grieving for the loss of Brian, but I am also grieving for this enormous King family, who despite it’s size, is incredibly close knit. I also think watching your husband be completely devastated by the news makes your heart heavy as well. Brian was special, he had different abilities, not disabilities. I always enjoyed speaking with him at family parties. Admittedly, the last few gatherings I did not get to speak with him as much as I would have liked because I was chasing after the girls and that also makes me sad because now there are no more chances to chat with him. He knew and remembered things about each and every one of us and had a way of making you feel included. He was a special person. Also David and Kathy hold a special place in my heart because their annual Memorial Day party was the first King event I was invited to. And from the minute I met them they made me feel welcome; clearly the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Also I think as a mother you feel things more deeply than you ever would prior to being a mother. Every unspeakable thing that happens to another parent makes your heart hurt for them. So, even though, at times this week I have felt unentitled to my grief I did decide to give into it today and let the tears fall freely at a beautiful ceremony that celebrated a beautiful life that ended too soon.
You said it all, Cathy. This family is something pretty special-these cousins especially and losing one is harder than I thought for all of us. Also, Brian’s parents are the best of the best and my heart just breaks for them every minute I think of it.Your words about him are beautiful and your tears totally justified.