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18 months ago my brother died. On Sunday we remembered him with a memorial service. I was surprised by how uplifting it was. By the effect of being with others who knew and loved him and had supported our family. He would have loved it.

The clean break is the easiest.

The slow, progressive wrenching break is much harder. Our family is enduring one now in the form of recently diagnosed terminal illness. When my brother died suddenly it was weirdly easy to find words, to analyse and reconcile and comfort and celebrate. But I am silent before that which is ongoing and visible, and which I am powerless to stop.

All the emotions which flared and then faded into acceptance at the news of my brother’s death continue to flow from this new wound; anger, confusion, sorrow, regret, fear, to name just a few. I am afraid to spend time with the sufferer, afraid of adding somehow to the pain, ashamed to have nothing to offer, desperate to make it all better but knowing I can’t. I searched for something meaningful to say but found nothing. I heard myself talk but the words were not connected to my heart, which was simply breaking. Wordless. I prayed, feeling that if I had anything to offer it was this. I don’t know if it even made sense. Somehow that didn’t seem to matter.

I’m sure these emotions will fade into acceptance too. Over time. But learning to live with dying feels like stumbling into a whole new landscape.

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