Too Many Losses

Tracy M

I have lost both of my brothers and my father. I am now an only child with my mother the only remaining member of my family of origin. As I write this it is still hard to believe my life has changed so dramatically even after all these years.

I lost my younger brother and his fiancée Dec. 30th 1989. They died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning at my family's' cabin in Northern Maine. They were only 23. Travis and I were 16 months apart in age and very close during our pre-adolescent years. I miss him so much. There are so many things in my life today I would like to share with him. My only consolation is knowing they died together, painlessly, while sleeping. My family fell apart after their deaths. No one knew how to deal with their grief and we all suffered separately.

Then in July of 1993 my older brother Troy died of an accidental overdose. He was found in his garage unconscious with a plastic bag wrapped around his head. Apparently he had been inhaling something and passed out only to suffocate. (That's how he deal with Travis' death). He left behind a wife and two year old son. Troy developed a drug and alcohol problem in his early teens that everyone was in denial about even after his tragic death. His widow sued my parents over rights to a family business that had been passed down to Troy. There was no room for grieving his loss because of all the other insanity that immediately followed.

Shortly after Travis' death, my father's self admitted favorite child, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. After several years of treatment and surgery his condition became terminal and he died in February 1995. At his request there was no memorial or funeral. His ashes were scattered at the graves of my brothers.

To complicate matters even worse my older brother sexually abused me as a child and my father was an active alcoholic who was extremely emotionally abusive and sometimes physical. Grieving these losses has been so difficult for me. I stayed in the shocked stage for over a year after Troy died. At the time I had two young children ages 3 and 1 to care for. In some ways it helped to have to get up every morning to care for them. It was so hard. I fell into a serious depression and developed chronic headaches, gastrointestinal trouble, and muscle soreness as a result of all the stress. I never felt like I would feel like myself again. I didn't think I would ever smile again. At one point I had a breakdown and hospitalized my self for 10 days. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and have been in therapy for over 3 years now still working on the grieving process. I also take anti-depressants. I refrained from taking them for a long period because I thought they would make me numb, sort of put me on autopilot for a while and just keep me tuned out. Amazingly just the opposite happened, I was able begin working through the grieving process, but also put the pain away for awhile when it became too intense or interfered with my ability to function at home caring for my children.

It has been a long, arduous road that has felt lonely much of the time. My husband has been great through all of this, I am amazed we are still together. Still, he cannot even begin to understand my pain because he hasn't experienced any losses of his own. I've learned not to expect him to understand the pain and not to feel guilty for what I've gone through and how it has impacted my life and my family's.

I just had my third child 9 mos. ago. A son. The first night after delivery I began having nightmares about people trying to hurt him or take him away from me. At such a joyous time in my life I had more garbage to deal with that I didn't even realize was there. Will this grieving ever end?, I often ask myself. No probably not but it does get easier as I become more practiced at it. I know I have scars from all these losses that will never completely heal. The losses have changed my life. I'm beginning to learn to wear life as a loose garment and to be in the moment. I try not to live in the fear of "what could happen next" alway trying to prevent any tragedy that could happen again. I've become a more spiritual person through all of this. Although for a long period I was angry with God and couldn't allow God's healing power in to help me. I won't ever be able to say I would choose this life over again if I could, even with all the wonderful things I've been blessed with. But this is my life and I need to make the best of it. I truly know how fragile our lives can be.

Tracy M

You can send email to Tracy at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date Brother Travis & Fiance: 12-30-89 Brother, Troy: July 1993 Father: February 1995
date of post 02-02-99

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW