Sept. 21, 2022

Holding on to the “Never” - Birthday Special Episode

As a surviving sibling or anyone that has experienced loss in their life, birthdays, holidays and milestones are always difficult days. Mostly because it is a reminder that our siblings' physical form is no longer with us. What I do is have a glass of...

As a surviving sibling or anyone that has experienced loss in their life, birthdays, holidays and milestones are always difficult days.

Mostly because it is a reminder that our siblings' physical form is no longer with us.

What I do is have a glass of champagne by myself every year, that is for my brother and is one of the many ways I decided to honor him on his birthday, a birthday that we share.

In this week's episode, I am sharing about how I have dealt with celebrations and holidays in the past six years, my first ever memory during my third birthday - the day that Andreas was born, and how I decided to honor and commemorate my brother during his birthday and other holidays and so much more.

In this episode I’m covering:

  • Intro [00:00:00]
  • How I’ve dealt with Celebrations and Holidays [00:02:00]
  • My first vivid memory [00:08:30]
  • What I focus on as I get older[00:15:00]
  • How I commemorate my brother on our birthday [00:21:30]
  • How I commemorate him during other holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas [00:28:50]
  • The most challenging year in the grief journey [00:35:50]
  • My advice as a surviving sibling [00:39:10]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here

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Maya: [00:00:00] Welcome to the surviving siblings podcast. I'm your host, Maya [00:00:10] Roffler as a surviving sibling myself. I knew that I wanted to share my story. My brother's story. I lost my [00:00:20] brother to a homicide in November, 2016. And after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story [00:00:30] and his story. And it's taken me quite some time to come to the mic to tell it, but I knew it was an important one to tell. So here I am to share [00:00:40] his story and mine with you. And it's important that I tell the story of the surviving sibling, the forgotten, mourn the story that is [00:00:50] not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey. And now it's your turn to share your stories.[00:01:00] 

That is correct. We are back for season two and it is now about telling your stories. [00:01:10] And I wanna thank each and every one of you for listening to my story. My brother's story Andreas in season one, it means the [00:01:20] absolute world to me that I can share this with such an incredible audience and fellow surviving siblings.

And we have an incredible season ready [00:01:30] for you. And today is a special edition episode. It is not only my birthday, but more importantly, my brother [00:01:40] Andreas's birthday. We share the same birthday, September 21st, as I've mentioned in season one, but today I wanna spend [00:01:50] talking about my brother. I wanna spend talking about being a surviving sibling, someone who shares the same birthday as her brother [00:02:00] three years apart.

And I wanna tell a little bit more, tell a little bit more about the story of my brother and I, and our birthday stories. And [00:02:10] I wanna share with all of you how I've dealt with the past six years, specifically around celebrations and holidays and [00:02:20] things like birthdays and the highs and the lows, and just be completely vulnerable with all of you, as I continue to be and the purpose of this [00:02:30] podcast.

And when I was sitting there mapping out season two with my incredible, incredible producer and editor, [00:02:40] she's a rock star. So thank you. We always released the podcast on Wednesday and soon realized that this would be coming [00:02:50] out on my brother and I's birthday, the second episode.

And I thought it would be. Really quite beautiful and appropriate to [00:03:00] one of course, talk about my brother and talk about his birthday and what it meant to me and does mean to me still to share his birth date and [00:03:10] birthday with him, but also take advantage of the fact that it falls on this day. And even though we're sharing your stories in this season, [00:03:20] kind of reconnect with all of you.

And I will do that again in the final episode, this season. And focus on something that is just difficult for all of [00:03:30] us, which are holidays and milestones. And that's what I'm gonna talk about today. So it was interesting that this, the second episode fell [00:03:40] on our birthday. So here we are to talk about that.

And I'm sure a lot of you go through this today on his birthday and my birthday. I'm thinking about how [00:03:50] old he would have been, and he's forever 27, but he would have been 33. And I think a [00:04:00] lot about that. I think it's quite natural that we all think a lot about that. I noticed that in a lot of my surviving sibling groups that I'm a part of, or even the individuals that [00:04:10] I interview that you're going to hear on this season.

And just people that I meet that go through this on TikTok and different social media. It doesn't matter. We all kind of go through [00:04:20] this where we really think through a couple different things. You know, if we are, are getting to the age, you know, that our surviving sibling, you know, was [00:04:30] at when they passed away.

That's something that happens for me. It's different because my brother was younger. So I think about where I was at at 33. And [00:04:40] I was, you know, newly married and doing entrepreneurship. And, you know, I'm thinking through all these, all these things and it's interesting. And so you, you [00:04:50] can't help, but fantasize, what would they have been doing if you're kind of the older sibling, right?

Or you're a sibling who watches that individual never get to the [00:05:00] age, that you know, you're, you're thinking about and just thinking through all those different aspects of it, but I think that's normal. And I, I wanna [00:05:10] tell you that. So you know that you're not alone. When you think about those aspects of birthdays and you're thinking [00:05:20] about, oh, well, my brother is forever say brother's forever 33 and you turn 33.

you know, you now know what it feels like to be 33, but then when [00:05:30] you start to turn 34 and 35 and 36, he's never going to turn that age. So it's, you start to realize that and, and that can be [00:05:40] very difficult and you start to think about all the things you're doing at those ages that they'll never get to do.

And I knew that that would be challenging, I think, [00:05:50] pretty early on because. I talked about it in the eulogy that I read openly to all of you for the very first time on season one, I talked about [00:06:00] not focusing on the things that he wouldn't do, but focusing on all the things that he had done. And I think that's probably my advice to all of you as surviving [00:06:10] siblings, to do that, to focus on what your surviving sibling was able to do and not so much what they were unable to do.

And however long their lifetime was, [00:06:20] if it. Five years, 50 years, whatever it was anywhere in between, in my case, it was 27 years for my brother. [00:06:30] And so I choose and I'm, I'm in a different place now, but in the eulogy, I chose that path, but in my heart, [00:06:40] And in my head, I was still battling a lot. I was still wanting to lean into more of the, the negative side and I wanted, I was angry.

He's never gonna get married. He's never gonna have kids. He's never gonna [00:06:50] fulfill his career. He's never, he's never, he's never, I was getting really caught up in the never, and I find myself sitting here turning 36 myself, [00:07:00] and he would've been 33 thinking about, you know, what life was like for me at 33.

It's not that long ago, three years ago. And, [00:07:10] you know, he never got to see me get married and do these things in my life, my business ventures and things that this gets me [00:07:20] emotional, but I, I choose to trust when I start to think about that, that he is with me. And, [00:07:30] and this is a part, a part of, of the bigger story, for me and my personal story. 

So I can completely understand how it can be [00:07:40] emotional and how you can get caught in the, the never he will never, or she will never as your sibling. I understand. 

And so that leads [00:07:50] me to how, how do we celebrate them? How do we honor them on these significant days, like birthdays [00:08:00] and do it in a way that is uplifting. That's a challenge, right? It's a, it's a big challenge [00:08:10] and it was an evolution for me and with it being my own birthday as well. I wanna take you back on a little journey [00:08:20] with me and again, be very open, raw, and vulnerable with you. And my first real vivid memory. [00:08:30] You may have shared some of this in season one, but I'm gonna go real deep with you.

My first vivid vivid memory, I may have some that pop up [00:08:40] of like me at two, maybe some of three, but I truly remember this was my third birthday. When Andreas was [00:08:50] born, this is the most vivid. one I remember everything that I was wearing. I remember this blue dress with stripes on it. I [00:09:00] remember how long my hair was.

I remember my grandmother, my mom's mother being there. I remember my sister running down the [00:09:10] hall. My sister who's a year younger than me running down the hall, screaming my baby brother. I'll never forget it. I'll like I can hear the echoes of her voice. [00:09:20] Just sitting here talking to you right now. That was my first real vivid memory.

That's carried with me 33 years later. [00:09:30] And I remember walking into the room where my mother was. My mother had a cesarean for him. And so she was, that was, those [00:09:40] were the days when you actually got stay in the hospital a little bit more. So I hear, so she was staying in the hospital. My father was with her and we turned to the corner and we walked into this room.

And [00:09:50] my, I remember climbing up these little steps, which they were little to look over into like the clear [00:10:00] baby bed that are in hospitals to look at my brother. and my perception of that at the time was it felt like a mountain climbing a mountain, cause I'm this [00:10:10] tiny little three year old girl. And I remember my mother feeling kind of like if you watch modern family [00:10:20] I was talking about this with a girlfriend recently, but if you watch modern family, when Gloria is gonna have her next child and they're gonna have the same birthday and she wants to keep her child in, [00:10:30] I kind of felt like my mother it was a lot like Gloria in that way. And I don't think that she was trying to force that or anything, but I think [00:10:40] she knew that was going to be a unique situation. Having, you know, two, two birthdays and I was the first child and that was always special and that is [00:10:50] special in life. But I looked down at my brother and that's one of my first memories.

And I remember also looking on to the, the other side of like the curtain. And there was this [00:11:00] woman who actually favored my aunt on my father's side. So she's married to my father's brother and it was, I remember that so vividly. And I [00:11:10] remember looking back down at my brother and I remember being in this room and I remember my mom having these roses and these peanut M and Ms that she, that was like her thing.[00:11:20] 

And just those specific little memories. And it's so special to me now. that's. That is my first [00:11:30] big memory. The first thing that I remember. So every, every birthday that I have, of course, I remember that. . But throughout my childhood, I, you know, I can't say [00:11:40] I loved sharing my birthday with my brother.

You know, when you are moving through different time periods, I wanted unicorn parties and he [00:11:50] wanted to dig up dinosaurs in the backyard. And even though we were exceptionally close, Our entire childhood. It wasn't always fun [00:12:00] to share the spotlight, but when we, so we'd have to kind of trade off so my mother would say, okay, so this year you get to celebrate on the actual day.[00:12:10] 

And next year Andreas gets to do what our vice, you know, vice versa. We would trade off.

We hope you're enjoying this incredible [00:12:20] episode of the surviving siblings podcast. I'm your host, Maya Roffler. We'll be back in just a minute after hearing from our incredible sponsor, [00:12:30] sibling relationships are eternal. Our siblings are such an integral part of who we are. We don't move on when we lose a sibling, although we can [00:12:40] eventually move forward.

That is why it's essential as surviving siblings to hold onto our sibling memories, stories and precious moments. was created to be your online memory book. It was designed and built by a surviving sibling for all surviving siblings everywhere. It is a [00:13:00] secure and private platform for surviving siblings to Chronicle memories through storytelling, pictures, and videos. is a virtual [00:13:10] platform for you. The surviving sibling to commemorate and honor your sibling relat. Visit sips today to create your free [00:13:20] profile and start building beautiful commemorative webpages, including photo and video galleries featuring you and your sibling.[00:13:30] 

And then as we got older, we didn't care. Obviously it wasn't a big deal. We just wanted to go party and have fun, or, you know, as that, [00:13:40] that age started to occur. And then we thought it was really cool. We thought it was really cool. That we had the same birthday. There was no competition [00:13:50] for a party. We just wanted to go to a big party.

as we got older and my brother and I were never in the same school because I was young [00:14:00] for my grade and he was at the right age. So my younger sister. Who's just a year younger than me and him were like freshman and senior together. And I [00:14:10] was a freshman in college, so my brother and I never were in the same school unless it was when we were super young and we were in private schools.

So, [00:14:20] you know, it was like when you got older, it was weird. Was the party at, it was a, it was a different shift and. It was also freaky because we had the same due date and we [00:14:30] were both two weeks late and we weighed the same and we were born on the same day. It was really bizarre, really bizarre and had such a deep connection.

And [00:14:40] his and his passing has affected me in such a deep capacity. And so this day brings all of this up, [00:14:50] brings all of the memories. Sharing this birthday together with him and the evolution of what that was like, you know, having to have the separate unicorn and dinosaur parties. And I [00:15:00] can still hear his, his voice.

Maya, Maya, Maya when he found these like fossils from a museum, a birthday that my mother had done when we lived in Minnesota [00:15:10] and I'm like, I flash through all of these birthdays and it makes me very emotional and. I choose to live in those memories [00:15:20] and, and those moments, because I feel like if I live in the nevers, it would eat me alive.

It would [00:15:30] take me to a place where I don't know that I would be able to get out of it easily. And I've learned that you can't live life like that [00:15:40] because if you do, you'll start to think life doesn't make sense at all. And you'll have difficulty making sense of anything. Then that's at least my [00:15:50] perspective and my opinion of it.

And sometimes things don't make sense in life. It doesn't make sense sometimes to me that my brother was taken and then sometimes I've gotten to a [00:16:00] place as I described in before to all of you. And I talk about often on social media, I have gotten to a place where sometimes it does make sense to [00:16:10] me because he was struggling in.

In a lot of ways with different things, with substance, with emotion, with, you know, [00:16:20] just different aspects of his life. But what doesn't make sense to me was how he was taken from us. So that's why I feel diving into the [00:16:30] never or holding onto the nevers as I like to call. My own, I guess my own psychology disclaimer, I'm not a psychologist.

So please don't take that as [00:16:40] true therapy, go to a real therapist, but you getting caught up in the nevers is something that I think could be detrimental. So focusing on the things that you [00:16:50] had together, those moments that you had together, and I talk to my brother as well. I talk to him all the time.

Trust me, I've talked to him a lot while producing [00:17:00] this podcast and wanting to know, you know, if, and prior to wanting to know if he wanted his story out there, and it's been a, [00:17:10] that's been a beautiful experience for me and knowing that he's with me, but a lot of people ask me, how do I [00:17:20] deal? Like this is the emotional side of dealing with these days.

Right? What memories do I think of what, you know, where do I go mentally or emotion? That's that's the answer. This is what I [00:17:30] do. I think back to the first memory, I think back on all the good times, all those things, and it makes me emotional. It makes me emotional sitting here right now, talking to you about it.

He's the most special person, [00:17:40] and I'll never see him in the physical world again. And that will always be hard and there's that never. And so [00:17:50] when. Focus on what is something that I can do to celebrate then that what shifts me to my ceremonial things that I [00:18:00] do. So my brother. Absolutely loved champagne. I mean, think rap videos, guys think like spraying the champagne everywhere and then also think like [00:18:10] fine dining that was like his, the best way to maybe merge him together and talk about him in that respect.

Cuz he loved really good food. And interestingly enough, I [00:18:20] married a chef, so he loves champagne. So I always have a glass of champagne for him on my birthday. [00:18:30] If it's. If it's a celebration day, or if it's like a birthday thing, I have a lot of champagne, but if sometimes you know, my birthday falls on like a weekday, so I'm [00:18:40] just having a glass or two at dinner.

And then, you know, when the birthday celebration happens, there's bottles popping. always happens always for him. You'll always see me post a picture [00:18:50] on social media about that. I constantly have sunflowers around as well on his birthday and also his death. And some of you call this a couple [00:19:00] different things the day in which your sibling has passed.

I've seen a lot of different terms for it and like heaven, anniversary [00:19:10] or heaven like your heaven birthday, and there's a lot of terms out there. And I think there's so beautiful. They're much, much more beautiful than the terms that I have. So I really love that and feel free to drop a message and [00:19:20] share.

but those are things that I do where it's just special. And, and we'll add this as well on, on our birthday, cuz it's, our birthday will [00:19:30] always be our birthday. I always have a glass of champagne. Oh this is gonna be emotional up. So today, if you're listening to this on, when it comes out on our [00:19:40] birthday, happy birthday, Andreas to myself, I will always make sure even if you know, I'm having a celebration with friends or with my husband, [00:19:50] I always make sure that I have one glass of champagne just by myself and that's for him.

That's for my brother. And that makes me very emotional. [00:20:00] see, six years later it still happens guys. And you'll hear from people on the season. Ugh, choked up. You'll hear from people on the season where it's 20, 30 plus years. [00:20:10] It still happens and it's okay. It's okay. And I. sit there at least one glass, just me and [00:20:20] him.

That's a moment. That's something special for me. And it's shifted my mindset about our birthday. [00:20:30] You guys gotta understand. I was like the like September 1st hit. I'm like the girl that posts on social media, Rihanna putting her crown on it's my [00:20:40] birthday month. I was obsessed that all ended. that ended very quickly right afterwards.

And I really tried to get that back by [00:20:50] having this like huge housewife's party in 2017. And it was fun. It was a fun party, but I, I was very sad. I was very [00:21:00] numb. And then after that I spent my birthdays with girlfriends and then I had met my husband. And so I ne learned that I needed. something to [00:21:10] connect me and wanted to have something to connect me to my brother, to have that special, deep relationship, because we had had this whole journey together.[00:21:20] 

My first memory is of our birthday. how am I going to continue the rest of my life without something special? And once I was [00:21:30] able to craft that, and I'm sure it's gonna continue to evolve. And I'm excited to continue to share that with all of you, how I commemorate him, but that's so special and [00:21:40] important to me that I have a moment where I sit with a really fabulous champagne that he loved.

And I sit there and I think about it, man. I cry, but it's not the same as it used to [00:21:50] be. I cried because I miss him. I cry because I'm sad, but I cry because I'm also happy because it's a moment just to be together. And [00:22:00] I would highly recommend it, whatever that is for you. Maybe you guys really loved a certain cake or maybe he loved a certain cake, which I do that kind of stuff too.

But champagne is the thing, [00:22:10] like that's his thing. and it's special. So you'll see the picture. If you're watching it today, you will September [00:22:20] 21st, but this isn't just isolated to our birthday, even though that is probably the most special. [00:22:30] there's also November 21st, which interestingly enough, it's also a 21 when he died.

That's his heaven [00:22:40] date or his heaven birthday. You guys, I love that. I've, I've read that. That's so beautiful. I'm gonna start using that. And on that day I have a [00:22:50] ritual as well. I go down to where his ashes are, even though I still have. Some of us in the family decided to keep them as I've [00:23:00] shared in the past.

But that's where the majority of them were, where they were put into the, the Creek where he spent a lot of time. But I go there every single year and I [00:23:10] bring the, a number of sunflowers. Now it's, you know, when, when he first passed, I just brought sunflowers. Now I bring the number of sun flowers. for the years [00:23:20] that he has been in heaven and I bring him champs, of course cuz we all know now he's like a champs lover.

And I [00:23:30] also bring him this specific pizza from this place in our hometown, cuz it's in our hometown. So people will know this place. It's called partners pizza. [00:23:40] If you're local to there, no one else will know what I'm talking about, but it's my family is Swedish and Swiss and they make this like potato pizza it's yep.

Super fattening, a [00:23:50] million million calories. And I leave like a little piece of it there with him. But now my husband and I sit there and we eat it together and I talk about him and my husband just [00:24:00] listens and I just talk and I've had. Different experiences. Every time I've gone, every time I've gone, it's been [00:24:10] totally different.

I do cry every single time. I'll cry again this year. I'm sure and I laugh though. I laugh about certain stories, certain things come [00:24:20] up. I talk to him. I, I spend some of the time alone as well, and that's a huge, these are the two most important things that I do during the. [00:24:30] and I know it's gonna be different for everyone, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally, everything.

For me, they're both [00:24:40] just so important. I, I just, I can't miss it. I don't wanna miss it. It's a milestone. It keeps him alive. [00:24:50] It keeps him in my heart. Not that he wouldn't be, but when I, I can't describe it. [00:25:00] beautifully enough, but I'm gonna try, cuz I always wanna try for you as my surviving siblings. I want you to know what this feels like and if you know what it [00:25:10] feels like you're gonna relate, but I, I, it's so hard to bottle these feelings or put them in words sometimes.

But when I get up from that rock, cuz it's like a rock [00:25:20] that goes into the Creek and when I've. I always throw each one of the sunflowers into the water and I leave him this little piece of pizza and I dump some of the champagne into the water [00:25:30] and don't worry, I'm not contaminating the water. It's just a little bit here, a little bit there.

And the food doesn't necessarily go into the water. Disclaimer. okay. [00:25:40] But it's, it's ceremonial. And when I get up from there and I walk back through the woods [00:25:50] to. My car. There's a feeling inside of myself where I walk and I, I [00:26:00] usually feel quite heavy at that time of the year and quite sad. And I can feel it coming over me right now, as I'm telling you this.

And [00:26:10] when I get up after, after that, having that time, having that moment in time with him. my brother in that space and [00:26:20] making conscious and an unconscious effort to just be completely open and there for him and celebrating him. [00:26:30] It feels like sometimes I don't even remember walking back to the car. Like I do remember walking to the rocks and no, it's not the champagne.

Okay. I [00:26:40] that's when you were gonna say that, it's not that it's, it's this feeling of Levity. That I have this feeling of connectedness. I feel recharged. I [00:26:50] feel plugged back in. I feel like I'm not alone yet. I know that he's physically not going to walk around [00:27:00] that corner or say, just kidding. This isn't real.

There's a part of me that feels [00:27:10] refueled with his spirit in some. And whatever those holidays or milestones are for you, [00:27:20] whatever those times are for you, with your brother or sister, or if you have multi losses in your life, I would encourage [00:27:30] you to do what would be special for your brother or your sister, whatever was special between the two of you.[00:27:40] 

It's life changing. For me to know that that's going to happen. And I love the fact that I share the same [00:27:50] birthday as my brother. It's something that I'm so proud of. And I giggle at the fact now that we thought about this as kids, it's, it's funny. It's really funny to me. [00:28:00] All those, all those types of things are funny and I like talking about them and I like sharing them with you.

And I'm sure you can listen to this and, and think about you. [00:28:10] A three year old boy and a six year old girl, and he's saying, I want dinosaurs. And I'm saying, I want unicorns. I mean, this is very believable [00:28:20] to anybody listening. And you know, then we get into our, you know, teen years and we don't care about this stuff anymore.

We don't really, you know, doesn't Bo bother us. We just wanna go [00:28:30] party when we wanna have fun, maybe too much fun. And. Then the clubbing years happened and we just wanted to, my brother always just wanted to pop bottles [00:28:40] and, you know, Christmases and Thanksgivings, those holidays. I wanna move into those and I wanna talk about those.

So [00:28:50] for me, it's a little different in commemorating. My brother. He's very much a part of those holidays in my home. He has I have [00:29:00] ornaments on one of my trees. Because we have one tree downstairs, disclaimer, we have one tree downstairs. That's just like frosted and sparkly and like there's nothing on there.

It's nothing. But [00:29:10] our other tree that has all our ornaments, like there's ornaments on there to commemorate my brother and to remember my brother and he's definitely a part of Christmas, Christmas is my [00:29:20] not so favorite holiday. I'm not really into. I went through years and years of dysfunctional family holidays, and my brother was a [00:29:30] part of those.

So I don't really choose to make that about my brother because that's not a time. [00:29:40] We have some really great memories, but it's not the time. It's not my time. It's not where I find my [00:29:50] strength. From him, it's not where I find my beautiful place and it's not just isolated from him. I mean, we came from a broken home and we came from a family where we did have [00:30:00] some really beautiful holidays, but we also had some really screwed up holidays.

And so I'm being, being just very real and honest and open, not only with all of you, but with [00:30:10] myself. And that was a game changer for myself. I don't particularly hate Christmas, but I don't particularly love it. And. Been redefining what that means for me and my own family, [00:30:20] as we build a family and it's, it's a game changer.

It is, but there are small things that I will do. Like my husband will [00:30:30] make things that we had traditionally. And so there's a little, there's a few accents there because I do, I do find myself missing my brother around the holidays, [00:30:40] but you know, there's a specific. There's these things called St. Lucia buns, their Swedish.

My brother used to lather on like tons of butter or like [00:30:50] peanut butter and just weird things on top of it and eat them nonstop. And so. I think it was last Christmas, Christmas of the Christmas before my husband, I think yeah, past two [00:31:00] Christmases. He's been trying to make them gluten free so I can have them because that is something that keeps me close to my brother.

So little things like that, same thing for like [00:31:10] Thanksgiving. I am not a huge Thanksgiving fan because my brother died less than two days before Thanksgiving. [00:31:20] It's a very traumatizing holiday for me. What I do. And it typically falls right around there is that's when I go down to the Creek. That's when I do the ritual for [00:31:30] my brother and my, my family's very aware of the fact that that's a fragile time for myself.

And so I, I like to be alone. I need that [00:31:40] space. And that's something that I also do because I wanna feel connected to Andreas and remember him during that time. And I kind of need a mental [00:31:50] and emotional break from life. It's I think that's always gonna be a time of the year that I'm just not into Christmas is growing on me though.

I will tell you [00:32:00] it's growing on me, which is probably why I wanted to incorporate some foods that remind me of my family and my brother, because I can bring, I can pull a little more [00:32:10] positivity out of that, but I find, you know, those are those for me. Those are the milestones. Those are the holidays. And that's how I choose to commemorate.

And [00:32:20] remember. I know that I've shared about tattooing and, you know, I have a huge tattoo down. the side now that I've added on, I had his ashes [00:32:30] and now I have flowers for myself and my brother. And that's been huge for me as well. And being able to have that [00:32:40] connection and have something on my body where I feel like an in my body, cuz his ashes are in me and he's with me every single [00:32:50] day.

but that was a personal choice, but I do see a lot of people doing that. I see a lot of people doing tattoos to commemorate, and I [00:33:00] think there's a reason we do that and we wanna keep the person alive. We wanna keep their spirit alive and we want them to be [00:33:10] remembered in a way that we remember them. I think that was.

A big moment for myself. I think [00:33:20] realizing that we want this person that we love, cuz we tend to talk about them in the present tense because we still feel like [00:33:30] they're with us and I believe they are, but we want. Ultimately, we want them to be remembered the way we, we are [00:33:40] remembering them. So that's why we do the things that we do with the birthdays, the Christmases, the Thanksgivings, whatever special holidays happen in your culture [00:33:50] or happened in your culture and maybe your reigniting them or bringing them.

you know, we name our children. Maybe our animals, [00:34:00] whoever after them. And to honor them, I think that's really beautiful as well, but we are doing this because we want people to see them through the [00:34:10] eyes of us. And I think some people don't understand that always. And may think it's maybe or think it's selfish, maybe think it.[00:34:20] 

you know, oh, get over it. Move on. Let me tell you something. If you have anybody in your life, that's telling you to get over it or move on, you need [00:34:30] to move on from them because this will be with you for the rest of your life. You will think about your sibling for the rest of your life. You are allowed to [00:34:40] mourn as long as you need to.

That is your timeline. That is no one else's and there's really no timeline. It's not linear. , but I can promise you this, you [00:34:50] can move forward just because I sit here today and I'm, I'm choked up and I'm crying about Andreas and our birthday. It doesn't mean that I feel the [00:35:00] same way that I did six years ago.

And that makes me choked up because I have an [00:35:10] inner strength that I didn't have almost six years. And it doesn't mean that I wanted my brother to die and it [00:35:20] doesn't mean that I don't miss him, but it means that you learn to move forward with your grief. And it means that you learn to move [00:35:30] forward because you have tools and you have support, and you surround yourself with people that are going to listen to you and embrace your grief [00:35:40] and know that this is a part of.

It's a part of you, it's not a part of a period of time for you. It's a part of you. My brother's a part of me. That's [00:35:50] why, you know, the, they say to go back to what we're focusing on in this episode, talking about a lot, though, they say that the first year is the most [00:36:00] challenging and in some ways it is.

And then in some ways that's kind of false. I mean, it is, and it isn't the first, you know, birthday, the first Christmas, the first death date [00:36:10] or heaven birthday. Those are, those are very challenging moments because you're realizing, oh my gosh. Like, like for me, the first birthday was, you know, my [00:36:20] 31st and I had to realize, okay, like, I'm gonna throw this huge housewife party.

I, my birthday is. I [00:36:30] don't share it with my brother. Like he's not moving forward. He's not moving closer to 30. He's not turning 28. That's what happens with those first ones. Like they're, they're not progressing in [00:36:40] life. Same with the Christmases, same with the Thanksgivings. Like they're not gonna be a part of the family situation.

And you know, most of you know, from season one, [00:36:50] my family dynamic was completely shot. It wasn't I was on shaky ground to begin with, but completely shot at that point. So it's not like we were getting [00:37:00] together anyway, but any chance for that? I don't know. I don't know. You never know what the future holds, but I think those realizations for me [00:37:10] were sad, tough, painful, and, and that's why the year of first and those milestones are intense because that it you're [00:37:20] facing the reality.

Oh, he or she, your brother or sister or whomever, you know, you're, you've lost if it's multiple losses, obviously we're [00:37:30] talking about siblings. You're, you're starting to go through realizations and that's why it's so difficult because [00:37:40] you're realizing they're never gonna see a Christmas tree with me again.

They're never going to sit down, have Turkey with me again. We're never gonna begun Easter [00:37:50] Sunday together. They're not gonna share Valentine's day with their spouse, significant other, you know, kids what no spring break with their [00:38:00] children or no spring break for them. You know, if they're a kid whate whatever, fill in the blank.

That's why, in my opinion, the year first is so tough because it sets [00:38:10] in the reality of the nevers, what they're never going to do again and what they'll never, they're never going to get to do. And so what helped [00:38:20] me. And what helped me move in the right direction with this was even though I sat it in the eulogy and I said, you know, let's focus on what he did do.[00:38:30] 

I was, my intentions were great, but I really had to go through the first year of, of everything to realize that, realize that pain, [00:38:40] realize the, never feel all of that, and then go, okay, well, how am I gonna commemorate? How am I gonna honor Andreas on our birthday? [00:38:50] How am I gonna make that special every year?

And how am I gonna make the holidays that I want with him special and his, his angel anniversary or his heaven [00:39:00] anniversary, which is the death date. How am I gonna make that special for us in a spiritual event? And, and not just this Glu event where I'm going down and leaving [00:39:10] flowers? No, I want a reconnection between us.

And so that took some, some work and evolution for me, but. , I'm very happy with where I'm at now with it. And [00:39:20] I feel like it continues to evolve in the positive and correct direction. And I definitely want that for every surviving sibling and it's gonna look different for every single one of [00:39:30] you. I guess my ultimate advice in commemorating your sibling, going through the [00:39:40] birthdays, the holidays, the big dates that we celebrate.

Is to learn to shift away from the [00:39:50] nevers, learn to shift away from thinking about, oh, they'll never turn this age. They'll never experience this. And [00:40:00] think about what you two experience together. Think about connecting with people who do wanna talk about the [00:40:10] positive things and the things. Your brother or sister did experience and, and the light and the love that they brought to you.[00:40:20] 

I know that, you know, recently for me doing that with my youngest sister is very special for me, was very, is, and was very special. And I'm [00:40:30] glad to be able to do that with someone in my family. Now I have not been able to do that with someone in my family and. That's been a new addition [00:40:40] to my ability to commemorate.

My brother makes me very emotional and to honor him. And that's why I tell [00:40:50] people in this journey is, well, you just don't know, you don't know where it's gonna go. And, you know, I have a very dark story about my family and it's very tragic, [00:41:00] but you're gonna hear. Some really positive stories on this, on this podcast as well.

And I hope that they give you hope. That's the point. [00:41:10] And I'm here to tell you that my story is still going. My grief journey is lifelong. It's still going and I have some, some wins and I'm, I'm going to live in [00:41:20] the positive and the grateful side of life. And I'm glad that I do have my youngest sister in my life.

To be able to talk about these things now, and remember my [00:41:30] brother in this beautiful way. And that's how I chose to shift. And I even talk about this now [00:41:40] and I feel pain in my heart, but I feel so much love. And I know he gave so much in the 27 years that he was here and I do know that he was hurting.

[00:41:50] And so I'm, I choose consciously to. Have my glass of champagne today on our birthday together, I'll always have at least one or, or two [00:42:00] little bites of something that we both love to eat as well. We both loved cheesecake. He loved peanut butter, you know, things like that. Always sneak that in there too little things like that, that make me [00:42:10] just smile and know that he's with me.

That's gonna look different for you and for your relationship. And I love hearing all of your stories in what you [00:42:20] do. So write to me, leave me voice messages on our website, or shoot me a, a message on social connect with us. I would love to hear what you do com to commemorate your [00:42:30] siblings who are now in heaven and have moved on to the other side.

What do you do to remember them on those special days today? I'll be remember. Andreas [00:42:40] my brother on our birthday. And again, my best advice to you is not to focus on the never focus on what you have together, because [00:42:50] they're still with you and focus on ways that you can keep their spirit with you and fill your heart instead of deplete yourself and surround yourself with [00:43:00] people who want to fill that light up with you.

And to remember that person in all of their, their beauty and glory, and to bring that strength to. [00:43:10] Happy birthday, Andreas. Thank you so much for listening to the surviving siblings podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, as much as I did creating it for you, [00:43:20] then share it on your chosen social media platform.

And don't forget to tag us at surviving siblings podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us, [00:43:30] remember to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast. And don't forget to follow us on all social media. We're on Instagram, [00:43:40] Twitter, and TikTok at surviving siblings podcast, all links can be found in the show notes.

So be sure to check those out too. [00:43:50] Thank you again for the support until the next episode. Keep on surviving my surviving siblings.[00:44:00] [00:44:10]