Keep Them In Your Heart

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 two and a half years later trying to pick up the pieces.

Some tips for grieving early on … My first tip would be to just allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Don’t shut it out. Grief is both your friend and your enemy. I started writing days after I lost Rudy. I didn’t have much to say. I was still too numb, in shock, emotionally shut down. But, as the days went by, and we had to plan a funeral and the day to day stress was too much on top of the intense start of grieving at times, writing was a way to get everything out without dealing with judgment. Everything would just come out … all these feelings about losing Rudy, the aftermath and still to this day, how his death has affected me.

Rudy and Aly. Aly is on the left wearing sunglasses, a braid over her right shoulder and a sparkly red bow in her hair. Aly is behind and in between Aly and Rudy wearing black Mickey Mouse ears, glasses and a black and white t-shirt. Rudy is on the right wearing a red t-shirt with white writing.

Early on, I read articles, books and magazines about grieving and sibling loss in particular. There isn’t much out there for sibling loss, but after a lot of research, I have found some really good reads. There are plenty of books on grief. There are even grieving journals with prompts for each journal entry. Book stores are your friend. I might also suggest Modern Loss (Candid Conversations About Grief: Beginners Welcome). I started reading a lot more poetry. Sometimes reading something someone wrote when they’re feeling what you’re feeling or have just felt makes me feel less alone.

For me, music has really helped me heal. Listening to music you connect with is just another way to cope. Going to see the music live is a great feeling and can also be emotional at times. Believe me, as the person who has cried in every public place possible, it happens and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve met some pretty amazing people along the way. My band, my people .. It’s just something I continue to do for myself. We all have to find something to break away from the constant heartbreak.

Alyssa wearing a spaghetti strap red stress with yellow spots on it and glasses with the members of the band Pepper and several other people

In the beginning, it’s hard to even think straight, but we have to be thankful for the time we had with the people we love. Whether it’s one year, 15 years or 33 years, that is the time you had with them. Hold on to those memories and the way you felt while they were here. That’s how you keep them in your heart.

Alyssa, Rudy and their family

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