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Saying Goodbye to a Sister (brianbailey.me)
118 points by felipebueno on Mar 30, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

Losing someone close is really hard. I am not good at eulogies, but I lost my grandfather to cancer earlier this year and for some reason I wasn't able to function at all for the coming few weeks. I grew up in a joint family and he was a constant positive presence in my life growing up; but after moving away for school/college, I hadn't had much real-life interaction with him except for phone calls/holidays. As a recent college graduate, who was a few weeks into a new entry level job, I had to take a break because this was the single most depressing period in my life. I had never experienced death of a close relative or friend before this, and for some reason I never thought death could be that painful. I had imagining it akin to a really bad breakup, but it was much uglier and painful.

I think the single worst thing is coming to the realization that they are just gone. I can never again hug him, hear his him laughing, talk to him about the n number of awesome shared experiences, or just enjoy another moment with him.

I still haven't fully dealt with this as I am not sure there is a protocol for dealing with such events except picking yourself up and keeping your mind engaged other stuff till you don't feel that much grief. I guess another approach is to push grief into the background and celebrate the life lived. Good luck to the OP dealing with this loss.

I know this pain, and mine comes from a similar place. My grandma lived with my family for my entire life, and she was always there for me, sometimes before my parents. I didn't call her as frequently as I would have liked during college (or my parents, for that matter), but I have atoned for those sins, and got better as I finished school and started my adult, not-living-at-home life. After her first heart attack, I called her twice a day until she was home, then nightly since, with rare exception. We were both the night owls of the family, so talking to her was how I ended my day. She passed just over a year ago, and I still get overwhelmingly sad when I consider that every day is one longer than the the longest since I've talked to her. Saying I miss my grandma puts it in too easy a light. I keep an alarm set on my phone for the time of the night when I would call her. It's not the same, obviously, but it's a little time set aside to think of her.

I honestly don't know how to deal with it, either. I think being 29 before losing your first really close loved one is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I got nearly 30 years with my grandma - time I wouldn't trade for anything. On the other hand, I'm a grown man who can't deal with death. I think you're right - a big part of it is just continuing to move forward. Because, like it or not, the world doesn't stop spinning, even though it feels like it just did. One last anecdote - when we knew grandma was in the hospital and probably never leaving, I went to pick up my cousins and take them to say goodbye. We stopped to get some flowers, and I remember looking at everyone at the store and thinking how could normal the rest of the world felt, whereas I felt like my world was ending. Alas, it doesn't. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you laugh. But you never stop.

My story is almost the same as yours - I lost him in my last year, not my first year post-graduation. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about him, or miss him.

However, I notice a lot now, almost 2 years later, that some of him lives on in me; the jokes that I tell, the reactions to some events, are from him.

I hope you find peace and remember that they aren't really gone if you let them live on in their own special way.

Quick tips:

- You should choose when and where to talk about her and her death. See, people who know you will want to know how you are doing and how it all happened, or why you are not yourself lately. Or you hear from someone who doesn't know about your sister who says, "What's up with you these days". You'll feel like you have to tell them, including how you are doing with it. But you don't have to tell them. "I don't want to talk about that" is a perfectly good response. Pick and choose when to talk about it or you are allowing anyone you interact with the power to send you into a tailspin.

- People will want to show empathy with you by telling you about the time they went through what they think was something similar. And yes, when the loss is similar, it can be a source of much increased mutual understanding and friendship with him/her. But usually it's more like, 'My grandmother died at age 87 so I know what you are feeling'. As you know, they do not (usually). They are just inexperienced in life. They mean well though. Again, I'd recommend "I don't want to talk about it". Feel free to interrupt early in their story.

I've always wished I had had a sister. Most times I picture her younger, but Brian makes me reconsider. I wish I had had a sister like Brian's, and my best wishes go to him and family, this was a powerful piece and like a good movie it made me feel a part of it. Laura is exactly the name I have always wanted for my first daughter. I wonder if she'll cry on my shoulder when boys break her heart.

Relevant song[1], from the Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin album cited exactly here on HN on a previous thread for an article regarding the loss of a father. Coincidentally it was at the time my dad had a motorcycle accident of which he's still recovering. The feeling of being close to loss was real, and this song, and album, is now loaded with feeling for me.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzU6vinZwhc

I'm really sorry about your sister. Reminds me how "right now" is so important. I'm going to call my sister to say hello.

What is that?

A fairly obvious analogy, I thought.

first of all: i am so so so so sorry for you!!!

i have a older sister, and i guess i love her more then my parents, it would be the worth if she was gone. we are separated by five years, and we both in totally different things, but there is this connection between brothers and sisters which are stronger then everything else.

but there is a bad part about my comment, and that was more the intention i make this comment, and i already know i will get a lot of down votes, but: what the fuck has this do to on "HACKER NEWS"? it's not against you personally, but in the last weeks a lot of personal storys filling this page more and more, and i do not like this trend. i'm very ver sorry for this part of my comment! but it is bothering me since weeks.

but in the end i want to say again: i'm sorry for you i have a kind of an idea what it feels like, after my grandma past away 3 years ago.

It doesn't appear that Brian Bailey actually posted this here ... and we do occasionally support our fellow hackers here.

You're right. I posted it here because I feel really sorry for Brian and wanted to share his words.

I actually really like the focus on personal & emotional issues we have here; I think that a lot of readers here suffer and/or have suffered alone, and this is a bit of a community of sorts for many.

It doesn't scale particularly well though. With many thousands of active users here, posting when they have implemented some really cool technology they want to share furthers the HN community. However, posting when they have personal or emotional issues would dilute the HN community and turn it into something different.

That said, there will always be exceptions and I'm neither the person nor am I qualified to make such determinations other than to choose to upvote or not.

I think the upvotes work it out well. It isn't like the front page is inundated with personal life stories. If one in a while is voted up it likely left a mark on people.

I agree with you that this is not "Hacker News". But, this story really hit me.

I do take some opposition to your post, given the context of this thread I think that you could have raised the issue in a politer and less confrontational way. Especially since this was brought to HN by a 3rd party instead of the author.

As an additional side point, one of the HN rules is that "deeply interesting" stories are permitted. Given that OP is one of us I think this qualifies, certainly a few people have found it interesting.

Brian appears to be a hacker of sorts, judging from the rest of his blog and his "uncommon.cc" site. He writes beautifully, and suffered a tragedy with grace. As hackers, we could learn from his example.

That's how it's hacker news. Now shush and go give him some money to help bury his sister.

I also lost a sister very recently. If you ever want to talk, my email is: trevor (at) strieber (dot) org.

Does anyone else see an interesting idea for a start-up here??

I could see a volunteer, side project. But a startup? Monetization is going to be rather awkward.

  "Get support and share with others who have suffered a loss.
   Several plans available to support your level of grief:

   * Grief Lite: email one person, FREE! 

   * Grief Pro: email and chat with 5 people, $19.95/month

   * Grief Enterprise: unlimited email, chat, and phone
     with up to 50 other people: $99.95/month

   Developers: REST (in peace) API also available."

Could work as a non profit like Watsi, people could donate to keep the site going if it helps them.

Already exists, it's moreloveletters.com

There is already sub-reddits for this

You might find the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius to be helpful in dealing with the grief and pain of dying, or at least confronting it. They Hays translation is worth reading: http://www.amazon.com/Meditations-Translation-Modern-Library...

Good luck.

I just happened upon this via HN Store [1].

I own several translations and have to recommend "The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations" [2] most highly.

1: http://www.hnstore.co/ 2: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0743233832/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

I was the youngest in my family and my older sister (2 years older) died suddenly when I was 16. Thanks for sharing this.

I still imagine that I'll bump into her one day, as if she never died and she had just gone off to college and gone on an adventure. It sucks, but talking about it, at least for me, does help.

Sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful tribute. I think I'll go spend some time with my brothers.

I lost my brother almost 3 years ago now. I still think about him every day.

I lost mine about 4 years ago. So sorry you had to deal with the pain.

Likewise. It's not something I'd wish on anyone, though seeing how bad it was for my parents put my own pain in perspective.

I lost my sister a little over a year ago from cancer and can relate.

RIP Laura, God bless her soul. May I ask how she passed?

The medical expense fundraising site he set up [1] mentions that she "passed away on March 29, 2013 after living with cancer for more than a year."

[1] http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/in-memory-of-lau...

It was not Brian that posted it here but you can talk to him on twitter @bb. I shared this link here because it's not possible to comment on his blog.

Achingly sweet. Thank you for posting.

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