Monday, November 3, 2014

My Truth About What It's Like When Someone You Love Dies

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Sometimes when I tell people about my sister, they make comments about me being so happy or seemingly unaffected by it now, and I'm writing this post today because that's both frustrating and really untrue. It's not through any fault of theirs that they see that (although it is quite ignorant to think that I'll ever be unaffected by it), but more because I never really say anything about the really sucky parts. In an effort to be honest about what it's like to live after someone dies, I'm writing this post, both because I want people to know, but also because as I've said many times before, writing about these things helps me to work through it in my head. And even though it's been two years, I've just really started working through my feelings about it. 
When I say "the sucky things," I don't mean the obvious sucky things, like the sheer fact that you have to deal with never seeing or talking to someone you love ever again for the rest of your life…that's really freaking heavy. I mean the things that can make you resentful and bitter. The things no one talks about because they're scared that people will tell them they're selfish, myself included, but it is what it is. 
Firstly, I should say that both my sisters have had fatal illnesses, for those of you that didn't know. My little sister had Leukemia and my older sister had Cystic Fibrosis, which she eventually passed away from, two weeks before I left for college. I don't mean to say that casually, but there really is no other way to say it. 
First thing that really frustrates me about that whole situation is that people automatically assume that I had the walk in the park while they went through those things totally independent of me. And that is an absolutely wrong assumption. Even if I was a total psychopath who didn't care about their only two siblings being sick, them being sick interrupted my life in material ways too. Imagine for me that your two siblings are both sick in different hospitals in different count how many parents you have. Assuming that we all both only have two, dividing that between two sick siblings leaves 0 extra. And I'm not trying to say I was neglected during that time, but I'm just trying to make the point that in that situation you become the last priority, and that is really sucky, even if you know it has to be that way. And yes, I have great grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, but please understand that that is not the same. 
Also, she died two weeks before I left for college, a time that should've been one of the greatest in my life, and it was pretty sucky. I didn't want to go out, I really wasn't in the mood to make new friends, and I basically cried in the shower all the time because I was too ashamed to cry in front of everyone else. Now don't get me wrong, that's no one's fault, least of all hers, but I'll never ever get that back, and I feel robbed. I hate that. 
On to issue number two…have you ever tried to measure up to someone with cancer, or for that matter any other serious illness? If not, I'll just let you in on a little fact, it's not fun. It's like doing double the work for half the attention. And I know we aren't supposed to say that, we're supposed to say things about how that sick person is such an inspiration and how we're okay taking the back seat and flying under the radar, but we're all humans, and we all know that while we may say that on the outside, no one feels that on the inside. 
Now try to imagine trying to measure up to someone who lived that life, with a terminal illness, and then died. You never can. And I'm not discounting my sister, at all. She was amazing and strong and made everyone love her with her easy confidence and wild personality, but she also sometimes sucked, and was mean, just like everyone else, because she was a normal human being. The only thing is that everyone forgets that now because she's gone, and it's extremely frustrating for those of us that are still here and remember that. It's hard to constantly be measured up against someone that you will absolutely never measure up to. And not because Mallory was a superhuman and I'm a lackluster human, but because she suffered her whole life with CF and then died, and I've been healthy and I'm still here. And don't get me wrong, everyone I know would say they don't compare us, but let's be real, when you say things like "Mallory would understand," "Mallory would do this for/with me," "Mallory would never say that," you're comparing, and it's awful, because I'm not her and I never will be and that's 100% fine, or it should be anyway. 
And slightly unrelated to that is the very frustrating way people try to prove their connection to her by saying things like Oh, this was her favorite movie/favorite food/favorite thing, when it absolutely wasn't. Or people who try to pretend they knew her so well and were so close to her when they weren't. Or when people say "Mallory would want me to do this" or "Mallory would say this", because lots of times, they're just doing what they wanted to do or saying what they wanted to say and just using her as an excuse, and it drives me up the wall. 
The most frustrating thing though, is when people write things about our family. My sisters have been featured in several newspaper and magazine articles, and at the risk of sounding like a spoiled teenager I'm just going to say it, if you didn't know our family, you would never know I existed. I almost never read things anymore because they never care about my opinion or point of view. They don't want to know what it's like to be the only healthy one going through those things, because they don't really address the fact that I ever went through anything at all. They write as though I lived happily in my own little bubble while they went through treatments and were there for each other and had such a close relationship, and I just did my own thing, oblivious to their struggles. I assure you that is not how it happened. 
I don't mean to be really negative or selfish, but I just want people to realize that people don't cease to be people when they die. They weren't perfect and their lives weren't perfect and it's especially frustrating for me to be compared to that and have to listen to that and I think people that have ever gone through what I've gone through will understand, even if everyone else thinks I'm being dramatic and whiny. No one has it easy in these situations, not my parents, not my family, not my sisters' friends, not anyone, but I am frustrated with always getting shortchanged, because when people do that it makes me bitter and resentful towards everything that we all went through together, me included. It shortchanges all my feelings about all the things I struggled with, having to deal with the idea that not just one, but both of my siblings might die, actually die, while dealing with all the pressures of life and high school at the same time. They had the support of everyone from friends and family to hospital and school staff to support them and talk to them about their feelings and fears, and I'm just feeling sucky right now about the fact that people only ask me about mine when I get visibly upset about them. 
And lastly, I am afraid of everything now. I think that's just a side effect of losing someone you love, but it's become such a huge element in my everyday life and I don't really know how to fix that. I'm afraid to miss anything, but yet I'm so worried about the future that I can somehow never manage to live in the moment. I'm so afraid to fail and be disappointing or embarrassing that I work myself up to a panic about any mildly serious life decision. I avoid relationships like the plague, not just with guys, with basically everyone, because I'm scared to ever get attached and lose anyone ever again. And it sucks because I was never like that before. And it sucks even worse because all these things that have happened to me have changed me, and my life, but no one recognizes them, because I'm "the healthy one." 
I don't really know where I'm going about this. I think I'm just going through that frustration/anger stage of grief at the moment, but I just meant to say that there are a lot of frustrating things about death that no one really ever talks about and then I got really frustrated and brutally honest, but this is my blog, and this is my real life, and I guess it's time people knew it.
I don't mean to whine or be negative and bitter and selfish, but I miss her. And I'm just trying to deal with all these things at the same time and still love her and miss her and not be angry when I think about her, and I just really don't know how to do that.  photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg
P.S. - Please do not take any of these things as me hating on my sisters and shortchanging their struggles. They are both awesome and amazing and very strong and I would never say that they aren't, but they are also both normal people who are/were sometimes bossy, and mean, and spoiled, and selfish, just like me and everyone else in the world, that's all I'm saying. 


  1. You're such a beautiful person Sarah, and I love you absolutely loads XXX

  2. This takes so much courage to write and I hope you know that you have a supportive audience here in the blogger community.

    Emily | Emily and Dot

    1. Thank you so much for saying that…it means very much!

      Xo, Sarah


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