Happy Birthday Bert

March 31, 2023

Happy Birthday Bert

A Dedication to My Brother

In my book, With Me All Along, I have a chapter dedicated to grief for a reason, as it hits incredibly too close to home. Chapter 4 was surprisingly easy to write; Things tend to come easy to us when they are familiar. I have gone through many types of grief in my life. From losing pets, to moving schools, moving homes, losing my health for over three years, and even family members passing away, my most intense grief of all came from the death of my dear brother. Today, his birthday, I dedicate this post to him. Bert would be 36 years old. It is easy to imagine what he would look like. A few grays, more facial hair, perhaps even a few fine wrinkles to reflect his aging. I can imagine that our relationship would be much the same as it was; His unconditional acceptance and offering of secure attachment; My reliance on him as an unwavering, grounded presence of practicality, religiousness, and support.

We would probably be watching the same handful of animated movies together and laughing about the same old stories and jokes we always liked revisiting. Bert liked his cartoon movies, but he was also deep. We spent a lot of our time together as we got older discussing complex and dynamic topics. He loved talking about how the body worked. The different types of diets, supplements, nutritional therapies, physical therapies, he enjoyed it all. He was passionate about so many things. He was even interested in opening a restaurant or health and food-related business. This is something I will never get to see him do, but I can only imagine how magnificent it would have been. He gave me a heart for taking better care of myself and educating myself on my health.

My brother was a patient, kind man. He was the kind of person that you could lean on, because you knew he could handle it. He was not emotionally fragile. In fact, he was about as grounded and safe as one could be. He was grounded in who he was as a person, with a quiet confidence that need not be paraded around. I would lean on him in the craziest of times in my life, when my health was at its worst. I was very sick with immune system dysregulation and severe food allergies. I would be very emotionally reactive some days, like a tornado, whether it was from overwhelm, fatigue, or sadness. He always had sound advice. He always listened before he spoke. He held me many times in a loving embrace when there were no words for the suffering.

Grief and Joy

I lost my brother over 7 years ago. And I am still grieving. I do not know when the grieving will end, or if it ever will end. And that is okay. Sometimes, weeks, or even months go by, and I do not get emotional when I talk about him. During those times, when I think of him, I only feel love in my heart and admiration for the man that he was and is. Then there are other days, weeks, or months. My emotions unfold differently. I feel deep sorrow, a pit-in-your-stomach sorrow from looking at a picture of us or thinking about all that we did not get to experience together. Sometimes I sob, and other times it is just a simple tear or watering of the eyes.

I think one of the greatest grief misconceptions is that grief and a happy life can’t coexist together. I have learned that they can. Knowing the heaviness and depth of grief makes joy all the lighter to experience. For those of you trying to navigate through your grief, wondering when it will end, when you will be happy again, and when the joy of life will return, I want you to know that this is all normal. Let yourself grieve, and in that permission, the lightness of allowing will welcome joy and fulfillment in through the cracks. You will feel it. Allow the anger, the sadness, the disappointment, the anxiety, the emptiness, to sit with you and be with you. You don’t have to run from it and you don’t have to change it. Just because it is uncomfortable does not mean its presence is a mistake. We all grieve in unique ways that are beneficial to us. It offers us the gift and experience of processing change. Lastly, it is important to know that grieving our loved ones changes over time. It changes color, shape, size, and the way in which it impacts us daily, both mentally and physically. Some days are indeed easier than others. And you can feel happy again. It can start as short pockets and moments, with gradual expansion over time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you find comfort and healing in honoring loved ones that you have lost. In writing about them, in thinking about them, in appreciating the impact that they had on your life, you can heal and process the magnitude of your grief, one day at a time. And in that healing, I am right alongside you doing the very same.

To missing him, to remembering him, and to continuing forward in making the world a better place, in memory of him. He was always about doing the right and moral thing for others.

I love you, Bert.