Grief During COVID

I lost my oldest brother Rudy in December 2016. It was sudden and still to this day, a shock. Sudden death or “out of order” deaths are harder to deal with, in my opinion. I have lost people to cancer, old age, other health issues, but nothing has ever compared to how we lost Rudy. It was a car accident. We had no warning, and we are still here three and a half years later trying to pick up the pieces.

2020 has become a challenging year for most of us, adding a thick layer of complicated grief. Mine has become more complex and a million times harder. How am I supposed to heal now? There are no therapy meetings, no grief support meet ups, no distractions, no concerts, no travel. How am I coping? How can I? With every new event that has unfolded, I ask myself the same question – “What would Rudy do?” I know for a fact we would have been more prepared for all this craziness. Rudy was a planner. I see that more and more every day, now that we don’t have him here to plan everything out.

This whole staying at home thing is hard! Being in this house filled with so many memories is painful. Having no distractions from my reality. Summer is ending. We’re heading into fall. Concerts are huge for me, and having none to attend since early March is really affecting me. It was an escape, somewhere where I could go and get lost for a few hours and forget about everything that has happened these last three years. I could see my friends who have become my family, my support system. Now it’s gone. Even going to the beach to sit and write and get all these feelings out is tricky. Having lunch with a friend, something I took for granted, especially with the friends I lean on and vent my heaviest emotions to is something I crave, especially now when it feels like my grief isn’t important anymore, now that the world is ending.

In other ways, it hasn’t been that bad. There have been a lot more family days at home, more lake days, more time to just be present, in the moment, since we have no distractions or plans, other than being together. At the end of Rudy’s life, he was so buried in work, so distracted and stressed. I hate that that’s how he was feeling when he died. Despite all the time we’ve had together as a family, it hurts knowing that Rudy isn’t here to enjoy the downtime with us.

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. Three years, and I am still stunned and in shock. In an instant, my life when from feeling whole to complete darkness. I don’t ever see myself being used to not having Rudy in my life. How odd is that? My brother isn’t in my life? I was supposed to watch him get old, go bald, have some grey hairs. I’ll never see any of that. Not seeing him become a dad will always bother me. Watching my brother Andy transition from husband to dad was wild. That’s my brother .. a dad .. not just bossing me around anymore. The secondary losses continue to add up three years later. Time does not heal or help. It makes it worse. And now? I wish Rudy was here to calm me down and let me know everything is going to be okay. But because he’s not here, I am learning to be that version of Rudy for myself.

Grief is isolating, but grief during the COVID lockdown feels like the ultimate isolation. I can’t just go out and meet up with the few friends who get it and don’t ask why I’m sad. Even the cemeteries are closed. That was one thing I could still do for Rudy – take him flowers every week. Something so simple felt so painful, thinking about him having no flowers. It sounds silly but it was really challenging for me. When life becomes too much for me, I get so upset with Rudy. Why did you have to go and die and leave me here all alone? As if it was his choice to leave us ..

When I stop and think about 2020, nothing will ever be as bad as the last three years. I’m thankful that this year has NOTHING to do with my family. Together we can get through anything. We’ve been doing a good job so far. Heading into the last months of the year and the anniversary of Rudy’s death is always hard, but I feel like this year, being home and not able to get away, might be even harder.

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