My Mother and Brother Are Dead

Dear Advice Column,

I could write a book here, but that’s not the point, is it?

In short, I lost my mother in 1987. I was the one who found her when I came home from school. I was 15 years old. The door was locked, and through the mail slot, I could see that the breakfast dishes were still on the table, so I knew something was very wrong.

My grandparents lived 100 meters from our house, and they had a spare key, which I fetched. I went in and found my mother in our basement. She had used my older brother’s shotgun to end her life.

The following years were not happy ones.

My brother, who was five years older than me, decided to follow my mother, and after five years, he gave up and shot himself.

My father was, of course, already devastated when my mother passed away, so alcohol became his medicine.

This all happened many years ago for me, but believe me – it is all very clear to me!

I don’t know exactly why I’m writing this, but it feels good to put it into words.

Kind regards,



Dear M,

Thank you for your letter.

I want to start by commending you for writing to the Advice Column. You have experienced significant losses at a young age, and I completely understand that it feels good to write it down. There is some relief in seeing in black and white what you have actually been through.

I have also lost my son, who was nearly 26 years old, four years ago. His brothers, who were 23 and 18 at the time, lost their big brother. It was – and still is – very hard for them to be without him, and they miss him and think about him every single day. I imagine that this is something you can relate to.

You write that everything about the losses of your mother, your brother, and your father is very clear to you. I feel the same way. Right after my son’s death, I was so afraid that I would forget him, but he is clearer to me than ever. For me, it has been comforting to experience that the person you lose continues to be a big part of you and stays with you for the rest of your life. The love doesn’t disappear, even though the object of that love is gone. Grief is homeless love, as they say.

I can’t tell from your letter how much you talk about your losses with other people. For me, it has been important to be able to share my grief with others, partly because I have needed to tell my story again and again, and partly because it has been helpful to learn to put words to very difficult feelings.

It is not always possible to use friends and acquaintances for this because they can get a bit tired of talking about the same thing repeatedly and do not really understand why you continue to need to talk about it.

I hope you can recognize some of what I have described and that you might find some of my input helpful. I think it is incredibly brave of you to start addressing your grief by reaching out to us, and I wish you all the best in the future.

Feel free to write to the Advice Column again if you want to share your grief with someone else who has also experienced loss.

Warmest regards and thoughts,

one of the volunteers

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