I’m sorry I’ve been off the grid, our family has suffered a great loss. My brother-in-law Terry, my husband’s identical twin brother, passed away this week, after a brave fight against cancer. While he had been fighting cancer for many years, he had always come through his treatments, so this was an outcome that was somewhat unexpected in many ways. He had always fought through and come out on the other side. Cancer aside, he was a healthy, active man, and still relatively young, at 51 years old. It’s been mentally and physically exhausting for the entire family, and the worst of it is that he leaves a wife and three teenagers behind.
That said, I have always found writing as a way to process difficult situations such as this. I’ve never had a front row seat to this disease before, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I will say that I did learn some things throughout this process that I will carry with me, and thought they were worth sharing.
1. Savor the Times of Good Health
2. I Believe in Twintuition
I have to tell you, I’ve heard about the “twintuition” thing, but I have never quite seen or experienced it with my husband and his twin the way I did through this experience. Before we knew that things were starting to take a turn for the worse, my husband was up in the middle of the night. He said that was the first time that he had ever had the feeling that something wasn’t right. That continued through this process, and as my husband was on his way to the hospital on the day his brother died, he had stopped at a rest area, and when he came out, he said that the clouds had parted, and the sun shined down on him. At that moment, he said he knew his brother was gone. Then he got the call from his sister that his brother had passed.
My husband is on the right, Terry is on the left.
3. “God Nuggets” Gave Me Comfort
After my brother passed away, I asked for a sign that he was ok, and saw a sliver of a rainbow on that day. That has always been a special symbol for me, and it has shown up in ways that I just can’t explain. I experienced that phenomenon again with Terry’s passing, and I know his siblings have too. I find a great deal of comfort in that. In fact, this is the artwork that was in his ICU room at the hospital.
4. Make Your Wishes Known
Truth be told, I don’t think that Terry ever thought that death was a possible outcome. I don’t think any of us did as he went into this final treatment. Heck, no one wants to contemplate their own mortality, especially at a young(ish) age. But making your wishes known, to your family, to your spouse and children, both verbally and written down, takes some the guesswork out of things in the heat of a crisis. While I have some things in place already, I feel the need to write it all down. Letters to my husband and children. What I want in a funeral/memorial service. Maybe even record a video so that everything is crystal clear.
While the conversation may be uncomfortable, it is necessary. Ask questions, find out where important paperwork is. I’m working on a one sheet reference guide so that I know what to do after the worst happens (God forbid). This whole thing is hard enough as it is, there is no reason to make it any harder.
5. Take Care of Yourself
It’s very easy to get caught up in everything that’s happening. The hospital, the health decisions, the arrangements, etc… These are all important things that need to be attended to, I know that. But if you don’t exercise some self-care, you won’t be of use to anyone. Take a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, get a manicure, and yes, even laugh with friends and family. The stress of the situation can reach a fever pitch if you let it. (I have found that slamming medicine balls to be highly therapeutic.) Just remember, you’re of no use to others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Please keep our family in your prayers. Terry’s wife and kids, in particular. This loss is beyond devastating.