Angee is the oldest (and only girl) of four children. She is now a wife and a mother of three darling kids. She lost her baby brother, Aaron, in infancy, when she was just 9-years-old. Her family was surprised by his passing after he was born with complications too extreme to survive. Aaron only lived two short days.
Q: As a child, do you remember any acts of kindness that made an impact during that difficult time?
I remember spending quite a bit of time at a few houses of close friends and how they just tried to let us experience a normal, happy childhood in that moment. It allowed us a few hours away from the sadness to simply forget the heaviness that was going on in our home. Those are the happy memories I have of that time. I don’t remember any child reaching out to me specifically, just those families who offered support by being our home away from home, but without intruding on the space we needed as a family to grieve.
I think it’s also important to remember that everyone grieves differently and that we need to accept how people grieve, even if it’s different than us. Each member of my family has dealt with Aaron’s loss differently and continues to do so, and that’s okay. For example, one of my brothers, who was in kindergarten at the time, didn’t cry during this time. He seemed to not understand what was going on. But, a couple of years later, he ended up with a reading disability that they were certain was due to the loss. The counselors at the school worked through the grief process with him, including bringing in a cupcake on Aaron’s birthday so this brother could celebrate. Once my brother worked through the grief, he excelled at school and no longer struggled in reading!
(Angee, and her siblings)
Q: I hear many times, “Oh they are so little, they’ll bounce right back.” How has the death of your brother affected you throughout your life?
I’ve been surprised how the grief has continued into adulthood. It has been 27 years, and although I’ve accepted it and even embraced it, there are times that I still struggle.
When I started having children of my own, I had a fear that I would lose one of my babies like my mom did. Although Aaron’s death was a fluke and none of it was genetic, I was still scared. I knew I didn’t want a baby at 32, the same age my mom was when Aaron was born. It seems silly, but that fear was there. Well, my last baby came when I was 32, and things turned out fine! I really had nothing to worry about, but I think death takes away the innocence sometimes and puts crazy fears into our minds and hearts. (As a side note, we chose to name our last baby after my brother.)
The grief has come in waves through the years. For me, it hit the hardest when I became a mother myself, and I finally knew and understood a mother’s love for her children. My heart ached for my parents, my mom especially, and their loss. I know how sad I was when Aaron didn’t live, but I can’t even imagine what my parents felt during those moments and still feel now.
I was also surprised how the grief hit again just a few years ago when I attended the funeral for our dear friends’ baby. When I walked up to see her in the casket, the grief hit me in the gut and took me right back to being 9-years-old and seeing my little brother in his casket. You never know what will trigger it.
I guess I want people, especially parents, to know that even if their children cope with the grief of losing a sibling as a child, it may hit them again as adults. The grief will most likely be different than they’ve experienced in the past and something they will have to continue to work through. Grief is a lifetime struggle that will come and go until we can be reunited with our loved one again.