Grieving Takes Time

Have you heard this song? I listened to it daily after my brother died. Somehow it brought me comfort. "The hands that hold the world are holding my heart." It's a good reminder. I needed it at the time. And I guess I still need it almost four months later.

I began listening to it each morning when we were in Houston as I was getting ready to go with my dad for an early morning Starbucks. Those were sweet mornings with him. I don't know if any of you have ever lost someone close to you, but in the midst of so much pain, nothing else matters. Your whole world just stops. And it's the little things, like trips with a loved one to Starbucks, that really matter. My emotions were so raw then, but I wish I could have that sense of urgency back, that sense that all that matters is what is in front of me. I was just months away from graduating, finals and papers due in less than a month, and naturally I had not started. I don't know how to explain it, except that it just didn't matter. I could have been told I would have to wait a year to graduate. (Well, I actually was... after the fact.) But at the moment, when I was in Houston that week with my family, it just didn't matter. I just wanted to be with those I love.

I have found that when I think about my brother or start to get sad, I'll try to stay busy. Or if it's nighttime, I'll just go get in bed and go to sleep, trying to escape the pain of my loss. But no matter how much I do that, I still have this huge void inside me. It's like how people say "There's a Jesus-sized hole in so-and-so's heart." I have an Austen-sized hole in my heart. (That's a big hole... after all he was a big guy.) But I can't fill it. Nothing can. I don't know how to make it go away.

Since we were so close in age and have such a large age gap between our other siblings, we were pretty much raised one way and them, another, as typically happens when siblings are more than five years apart. Consequently though, there are a lot of things Austen would "get" that no one else would. There are ways we related that just can't exist with others. That's part of that void. There are times when all I want is so desperately to talk to someone that "gets" it. I miss that.

A couple of nights ago I had a break down. It had been building up. I found myself in tears over the memory of my brother. I was remembering how we shared a room, and even a bed briefly, when our parents first got married. I was five, and he was almost four. There was another bedroom, but at the time, my uncle was living with us. It didn't matter to us though. We loved being together and having a sibling. Austen would be so excited to play in the mornings that he'd lean over me and pull open my eyelids "to see if I was awake." Then when my Uncle Paul moved out, Austen moved into his room and got a bunk bed. So naturally I migrated to his room too, and I, of course, insisted I should be the one to sleep on the top bunk. A few years later, we moved. And many nights, especially after watching Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Austen would wind up sleeping on my floor. And I was okay with that... until I got to high school anyway. So for almost 10 years of our lives we slept in the same room, even when we had our own. And I expect myself to just be over that?

My counselor said it takes divorced couples the amount of time they were together times two to get over their lost spouse. And that's in a divorce. Austen and I were siblings and buddies for twenty plus years. Why do I expect myself to get over that so quickly?


  1. I'll be praying God gives you the comfort you need Ashleigh. I read your post you wrote on your brother back in moving and touching. Its wonderful you have sweet memories of your brother. :-)

  2. I will continue to pray for you as well. I guess it is almost a relief to realize this aspect of grieving...that it's okay. What a blessing that you have so many loved ones around you to be with amidst your grieving.

    I could really related to the room sharing. :) My little bro and I shared a bedroom downstairs in our house when we were little even though we had our own bedrooms upstairs. We wanted to be closer to our parents. Then when we migrated upstairs, he still slept on my pull-out bed in my room. As I got older and neared middle school, I whined and complained about it...but now I look back on those years and treasure that time tremendously!

    Praying those treasured times calm your heart as well right now!

  3. I stumbled across your blog today. It was probably no accident that I was able to read this post. Thank you for sharing this with all of us that are able to read it. Saying a prayer that you will be able to find some comfort in your memories of your wonderful brother


  4. Ash, I love your writing - it so real and raw and just flows. You really have a gift of putting your feeling/thoughts into words that people can relate to. Praying for you as I lay in bed, sweet friend.


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