November 21st 2016 was the day that changed my life forever, it was the day that I lost my brother. As I have shared in previous episodes, my grief journey hasn’t been linear. There are many things that I have done to cope with the loss of my...
November 21st 2016 was the day that changed my life forever, it was the day that I lost my brother. As I have shared in previous episodes, my grief journey hasn’t been linear. There are many things that I have done to cope with the loss of my brother. Creating this podcast was a way for me to honor my brother, to tell his story, to tell my story, our story. As surviving siblings we go through different stages of grief, one day our grief might be in the drivers seats, while others in the trunk of the car. Or it can feel like you’re carrying a backpack full of rocks… moving forward in your life after losing a part of your soul, means you’re able to grow while carrying that grief with you.
In this week's episode, I am sharing about what I do on November 21st to honor my brother and remember him, metaphors and takeaways from season 2 of The Surviving Siblings Podcast, how my grief journey has evolved and continues to evolve everyday, the current dynamics with my family and so much more.
In this episode I’m covering:
For full episode show notes and transcript, click here (PodPage link /season2-finale)
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[00:00:00] Maya: Welcome to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Ruffler. As a surviving sibling myself, I knew that I wanted to share my story, my brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November, 2016, and after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story 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 his story and mine with you, and it's important that I tell the story of the surviving sibling. The Forgotten Warner, the story that is not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey, and now it's your turn to share your stories.
[00:01:02] Maya: We are here with the final episode of season two of the Surviving Siblings Podcast, and it's on a day that is, A special day, a dark day, a difficult day for me as a surviving sibling. As most of you can understand, it is November 21st. It is my brother's death date. It is the day that I walked away from him for the last time from his physical body, and I thought it was the right day to close out season.
[00:01:39] Maya: And tell you guys all about my journey through launching the podcast, how I'm feeling on year six on this anniversary date, what I do on this anniversary date for him, and what's next and how I'm feeling. So. As I mentioned, it's a difficult day. It's a difficult day for all of us as surviving siblings. I lost my brother to a homicide on November 21st, 2016.
[00:02:14] Maya: As many of you know, he was actually initially taken from us. The crime was committed on November 19th, but he was declared no longer alive on November 21st. So this day is a dark day for me. It's a very difficult day, but I wanted to. Honor him, honor all of you as surviving siblings and come to you with raw emotion with this episode to close out the season because I am overwhelmed by the support that I've received from all of you as listeners for season one and season two, and a huge thank you to all of the incredible guests that came on for season.
[00:03:06] Maya: Today is a really tough day for me. Some of you guys call it like your sibling's heavenly birthday, which I think is just such a beautiful term. I'm always learning from other surviving siblings from all of you, and it's a day I'll never forget. It's a day that I walked away from my brother's physical body for the last time, and I really didn't walk away as, and I'll say this several times in this episode, as I mentioned in season one.
[00:03:33] Maya: So have you. Wanna listen to my full story. If you haven't listened to it yet, please feel free to go back to season one. I share everything very openly. Honestly, rawly, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, which I'm gonna share with you today, like my full journey about all of it. And what happened is I really didn't walk away.
[00:03:53] Maya: I was the last one to leave the room because they declared him dead. And my father kind of. Dragged me out of the room. Not in a horrific way or a negative way, but in a way that was like, it's time to go. And I remember collapsing in my father's arms, like right outside of my brother's room, so, It was difficult.
[00:04:19] Maya: It was very difficult. Um, this is a very intense way to begin this episode, but that's kind of who I am as a person, and it is who it was and is who my brother is. I speak of my brother in the present tense very often because I feel like he's still with me. But that was the last time I saw his physical body.
[00:04:37] Maya: Very difficult time, and I think about it every single, single, uh, year at this time. But I want to, as I express, go through what my journey's been like with this podcast, what all of you have meant to me, which I can already just say you've meant more than you'll ever know, and thank our sponsors. , uh, give you those references and resources again and let you know where I'm at, but also tell you where we're going.
[00:05:12] Maya: So to kick it off, Again today, I want to thank, thank all of you for listening to this special episode and supporting me on this difficult day. What do I do on November 21st? How do I honor my brother? Well, my brother's ashes. I have some of them still, as some of you know. In, uh, in urn in, I keep it in a special place.
[00:05:35] Maya: I have like a place to memorialize him, which I think is really important. So if you haven't done something like that and you really want that, you want a place to go, I have that in my house and I talk about that on other episodes, like how I've made mistakes, putting it places that it didn't make sense.
[00:05:51] Maya: No, I have a beautiful spot for it now. Pictures, his urn, just things for him. A John Lennon candle, like things that make sense for. , and that's a huge way to memorialize him. But on this day, I am down at the the creek where the majority of his ashes are because yes, I have them in an urn, but I also have them tattooed in my body, which some people thought was kind of eerie and weird that I did at the time.
[00:06:18] Maya: But I talked to that on season one, and I go down there every year. I have not missed a year. And I bring as many sunflowers as the years that he's been gone. So this year he'll get six and I throw them into the creek that where his ashes are. Before I leave, they come with me and then, you know, I throw them down there, always bring champagne because my brother just loved champagne.
[00:06:48] Maya: That was his thing. Pop and models, that was his thing. And I bring his favorite pizza. From this local pizza place in Peachtree City where we grew up. And I leave him a little slice, so I'm sure some creature ends up eating it or maybe he takes it away. I don't know. But it's something special that we do.
[00:07:09] Maya: Um, the first year. After he passed, I had a very dear friend come with me. Michael. I wanna always thank you for doing that. That was really beautiful. It really just bonded us in a way that I, I don't think anybody else would understand. He lost his mother and her ashes were somewhere very similar and that was very really beautiful.
[00:07:30] Maya: And then since then it's been my husband. One year I've gone by myself because I really needed that to myself. It was just something I was going through this that, that particular. This year, we'll go as a family, but that's my point of this particular episode is that every year is really different. Every year you grieve it's, it's different.
[00:07:55] Maya: It's a journey. It's not linear. You go through different things. But those are the things that I do on this day. For him to feel connected to him. And it's so interesting because every year, like I mentioned, I wanted to go by myself one year. That was like a first for me. I don't feel that way this year, but I just, I needed to, I don't know, I needed to feel really connected.
[00:08:19] Maya: And I guess my advice to you would be if you have like a tradition like I do and doing something like that, like trust yourself if you need to have some time alone or you want people around you, like I've kind of just gone. What I've needed and like what I needed for myself and really trusted that and listened to that.
[00:08:41] Maya: And I don't know that all of us are aware of that. Like I don't think I really knew the first year what I needed. So I'll always really be grateful to my friend, Michael, shadow to you for giving me what I don't think I needed. I didn't know that I needed at the time, and. Grateful for my husband who came in 2018 when we first started dating.
[00:09:06] Maya: I mean, it was pretty new. Our relationship. That must have been so overwhelming to watch that, and I spent a little time by myself down there too, so at the creek. But the point of me sharing this with you is this day is so important to me because it's a dark, dark day and it's a difficult day. And my brother passed two days before Thanksgiving, or his official death date is, was like two days before Thanksgiving and barely, barely.
[00:09:39] Maya: It was like really super late at night and then the following day, and then there was Thanksgiving. This year's not that much different as far as timing. It's really not, we're here on a Monday. For November 21st, 2022. But circumstances have totally changed. It's been six years.
[00:10:02] Maya: We hope you're enjoying this incredible episode of the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Rother. We'll be back in just a minute. After hearing from our incredible sponsor, are you feeling lost in your grief journey? Perhaps even stuck. As a surviving sibling, I too have felt lost, stuck, confused, angry, well fill in the blank.
[00:10:28] Maya: I felt so many emotions along my grief journey. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about too. Along the way, I found that what I needed was answers to all of my unanswered questions. Validation. Permission to feel everything that I was feeling at different times, and ultimately I needed guidance. That's why I created the Grief Guide for Surviving Siblings. This is a 23 page guide that guides you the surviving sibling along your grief journey, written and created by a surviving sibling. For surviving siblings. Click the link in the show notes to get your copy or visit the surviving siblings dot. Where you can also find more show information, merchandise for surviving siblings like you, and more resources and support,
[00:11:26] Maya: and a lot of people like to say that. Oh, you know, you'll move on. Ugh. Please don't ever tell me that. Like we don't say that in this group. We do not say Move on , so that we say move forward. It's so important, but people will also tell me it gets easier. It's not that it gets easier, and I really wanna spend some time on why that is not something that should make you feel defeated.
[00:11:56] Maya: Make you feel depressed, make you feel like you can't go on, even though I know how you feel, I know you feel like you can't go on. If you're earlier in the process of your journey, maybe you're, um, six years, maybe it's two years, three years, maybe you are six years and you still feel like you can't go on.
[00:12:16] Maya: I have those days too. But we've had people on the podcast this season on season two that are 20. 30, 40 years in the process, and they still have that that time. So I wanna give you hope by telling you this and, and going through a couple of these metaphors that I really just loved from this season and my personal, my personal metaphor that I just connect with so much because there are still days, and again, I, I'm not telling you this because I don't want you to feel hopeless.
[00:12:46] Maya: I just want you to feel hopeful knowing that you, you're. It's okay. Like we're in this together. This is normal for a surviving sibling. There are still days where it's hard for me to get outta bed. There are still days where it's hard for me to just grab a shower or make breakfast for myself. Thank God I married a chef, right?
[00:13:09] Maya: Um, . I try to bring levity to some of this stuff. Now is one of the things that have changed for me, but some days are just, They're just hard, but the hard days become sprinkled as time goes on. That's what I've found for myself. But to give it a bigger picture, a bigger context, I also created a life for myself where I want to achieve things and I want to build things, and I kind of redefined my life.
[00:13:47] Maya: And this podcast is one of those things because giving back and talking to all of you and connecting with all of you, and even if I give just one surviving sibling hope, it means the world to me. And so redefining my life like that was so important. But to go into a couple of really strategic metaphors that I think will change your life, and they're a part of season two.
[00:14:12] Maya: The first one I want you to think about is the. That I resonated with first before I got into some of my amazing guests. And you've probably seen this if you're on Facebook groups like me, or if you're in any kind of like non-profit help group or if you're in a group or if you're just on social media in general and you see anything about grief, you will see this.
[00:14:39] Maya: There is this, um, metaphor about this, um, envision this ball. And when I say a ball, I'm not talking about like a baseball. I'm not talking like they, the, the image of this is like a bowling ball. It's like a really hard circular ball or even like, it almost looks neanderthal, sometimes like a heavy stone ball.
[00:15:01] Maya: So we're just gonna say the heavy stone ball so everybody will understand because bowling isn't everywhere, but. It's a lot of places, but that's what it reminds me of. But a heavy stone ball. And the first image that comes up in this is this vase, which is really like a aff. So if you like a, like a, a good brunch like me, it looks like something that would hold in a moosa, , like a miza mix.
[00:15:29] Maya: But you know, most of us have been to a restaurant where they have like a quaff where it's very. Like it's a holder of water and it's quite big on the bottom and it has a very small, like hole at the top for water and it's just open and you can pour your water. That's what it the quaff is. But anyway, so there's this big, big like ball inside of it and it's filling up all the room at the bottom.
[00:15:53] Maya: There's no way you could get that out. It's almost exploding this craft, this rock ball. and you'll see it say, this is what grief is like. You'll see this often. And I remember seeing that for the first time and being like, well, yeah, I feel that like this heaviness in me. I feel this heaviness in me even talking to you right now about this.
[00:16:15] Maya: Like my voice gets choked up. But then we'll show another image, and another image, and another image where the ball, this rock ball, which, how does this happen? Riddle me. Gets smaller, and then the next image, it gets smaller and the craft stays the same size. The container in which it's in until it gets quite small, almost to the point where it can perhaps be poured out or at least more things can come in.
[00:16:47] Maya: At least liquid contents could come inside of the quaff, and that's what grievous must be like that ball. And I remember feeling so angry looking at that going, that's not at all. And then I remember seeing a post for the first time where it took that as the example, and at the bottom it said, this is what grief is really like.
[00:17:13] Maya: And had that saying craft and that rock ball. And the rock ball never changed size. As it went on and it moved through the different examples, the quaff is what grew. The container grew, it grew in size as far as like height. It grew in strength and it grew and it grew. And it said, we see this off now, but the first person who did this, your genius, it said That is really what grief is.
[00:17:47] Maya: Boom. That is absolutely what grief is like and this type of grief as a sibling, a sibling who has lost a sibling when we don't. This is not what's expected in life. This is what we talk about all the time here in the, on this podcast, in groups. We expect to lose our grandparents, our great grandparents.
[00:18:14] Maya: If you are lucky enough to know them, great, great. Whatever your family dynamic is, it's a loss. It's hard. It hurts, but that ball is not, in my opinion, always is big. It depends on your relationship. It's heavy though. But the same thing applies to that. We expect to lose our parents. We know they're older than us.
[00:18:36] Maya: We know we're gonna lose them. If you lose. Younger or unexpectedly. Yes, that is traumatic and I will never take anything away from that. But with our siblings, it's so diminished all the time because to lose a child is the worst thing in the world or to lose your spouse. Like all these we're diminished all the time.
[00:18:58] Maya: Lose your spouse. Our loss is always diminished and one of my missions for creating. This podcasts and starting to create groups, which, if you're not on our Facebook group, please join us. The Surviving Siblings Podcast, it's group, join us. My mission is to bring awareness that we are real people going through a real loss because your, your siblings are your first friends.
[00:19:28] Maya: Your your first best friends. They know everything about you. They watched your entire life, give or take a couple years, right? I mean, they're your first fights, your first enemies, your first loves, your first. I mean, like all, all of the in, in those ways, right? It's a beautiful relationship. First fights, you know, first, makeup first.
[00:19:48] Maya: Like I didn't say makeup. Makeup like you make up with each other, . But all these beautiful things that go on with friendships. You know each other, like, you live in the same house, you spend time together. I don't care. Even if you have half siblings or step, like, it's, it's, it's deep. It's deep because you're sharing dna, you're sharing family members and you know, I've had people ask me too about like step siblings and stuff.
[00:20:16] Maya: It depends on your dynamic. I, in my opinion. But if you grew up really close and you grew up in the same household, My opinion is that's deep, but it's, you know, that's not the relationship that I had with my brother, but I can completely empathize with that. So we're constantly diminished, and that's why it's just my mission to bring this up and to bring up in these two seasons and beyond how important this is and the validity behind all of it.
[00:20:49] Maya: That's the metaphor that resonates so much with me. And when I saw that for the first time, really explained and really brought into sibling laws, we are so strong. We build strength around that. It's not something that we just, it gets smaller and smaller and it'll be fine with timing. You move on. No, we don't say that here.
[00:21:13] Maya: We don't say move on . It's not what happens. . It was beautiful. It was really beautiful and it resonated and I still carry that, that as I call bowling ball or hard round rock is still in me. I've just gotten bigger and stronger. I know I have, I'm sure this resonates with a lot of you because I received a lot of comments and messages about another metaphor that happened on this season with Rhonda Salem's episode, and she talks about the rock backpack.
[00:21:47] Maya: So let's talk about the rock backpack. The rock backpack, she. It's there. That's your grief, and it's really, really heavy and it's on the ground. And when you go to pick it up, you can't pick it up. It's too heavy. But you've gotta take that backpack with you and I, you know, I'm giving my own twist to this, but this is what she says.
[00:22:10] Maya: Check out the episode though, because these are her words. Rhonda, thank you for. And then the next day you come back and you try to pick it up again. And maybe you can pick it up a little further, but it's still heavy. You come back the next day, maybe you can pick it up a little more. Finally you can get it on your back and you might fall over
[00:22:30] Maya: But one day you're gonna be there and you can finally put it on your back and stand. And maybe that's it. And then one day you're gonna put it on and you might take a step forward. Maybe that's it. And then one day you might put it on and take a couple. and then one day you might put it on and walk a little bit, and then there's gonna be one day where you just have it on because you have to bring that with you.
[00:22:55] Maya: It's a part of who you are, and you're walking, and maybe you're running in a good way because you're moving forward, but you've learned how to bring that with you, and you've learned how to move forward in that kind of way, and that makes you strong. That makes you stronger, and it makes. Total sense to me, that metaphor it, it resonates so much with me and I just thought that was so beautiful and I received, again, so many messages from all of you and I wanted to make sure that we all talked about that again as we close out season two, because it's very much like my.
[00:23:28] Maya: Big, hard like ball that I think of, which is like a bowling ball, is what I'm envisioning. I'm sure you've seen that metaphor too. So we've got the ball metaphor. We've got the backpack metaphor. The other one that was a huge, huge takeaway from season two is from episode one from Dr. Dawn de Armando. Who a lot of you know that like her book was such an inspiration to me and really kind of gave me that kick in the butt to start this podcast.
[00:23:58] Maya: And her and I have since connected quite deeply. And a reference that she made on the podcast and something she talked about very deeply. And even when we met for the first time, virtually, of course, welcome to Covid Days. She told me about the. The grief metaphor that she has. And I said, okay. And she said, it's a car.
[00:24:21] Maya: And I was fascinated by this, and it sunk so deeply into me because she said, grief moves with us. It's like a car. I can't say this eloquently as her. So please check out episode one of season two. But she referred to grief as being in different places of the car, and she talks about the fact that when we first lose somebody, It's the driver.
[00:24:48] Maya: It's in the driver's seat. And then as we move through some time it may become the passenger, it may go to the back seat, like in the passenger side of the, the front, and then it may go to the back seat. And then over time you may find it in the trunk. And it doesn't mean that grief leaves you cuz you are the car , you're in the car.
[00:25:15] Maya: It means that grief, like she says, ebbs and flows. And she asked me a very poignant question on season two, episode one, and she says, you know, where are you at this? And I love that. She like flips it back on me. She's amazing. And I. I explain it quite in, in detail cause it's not black and white. Where I'm at six years into this, on the anniversary today of my brother's death.
[00:25:44] Maya: It is not black and white. It is not. But if I'm thinking about it today, Grief is in the, in the passenger seat of the front of the front. And what I mean by that is it takes over on certain days, like my birthday, it takes over because we share the same birthday. My brother and I, and best way for me to explain it is, it's almost like I have my kid brother in the passenger seat and he's kind of trying to shake the steering wheel a little bit.
[00:26:13] Maya: But I, I'm in the driver's seat. And I can hold it firm enough to keep going in life. Whereas six years ago, four years ago, even, maybe even three I, it was, it was in the driver's seat for a full two years. It was at least in the driver's seat, like I had no control. I think I was in the backseat of the car.
[00:26:37] Maya: Um, but it's interesting if you go back to the episode with Don earlier this season, because that was much earlier this year and I shared something similar but different. So if you wanna compare and listen, that's fine, but that's where I am today and on these significant days. It's a little bit different and it's really challenging, but after this and after the holidays, it'll move to the backseat and slink back to the trunk.
[00:27:04] Maya: It's there and it's quite heavy in the trunk. It's still, it's a, like a very heavy suitcase in the trunk, and it's there. But it's not in the driver's seat anymore and not in the passenger. And it's okay for grief to move around. And I just think her metaphor for that is just so amazing too. So those are my three favorites for, for all of you and to help you like understand where I'm at today on a day like this.
[00:27:33] Maya: When I'm, you know, going down to honor my brother and remember this day, and it's not something that I ever, you know, give up or forget. You never can, but it's about how you take whatever metaphor works best for you. And it's how you build on that because I just, I'm not a huge fan of people saying things like, oh, they're in a better place.
[00:27:55] Maya: That one's a big one for. Just to go on that for a second because they don't know what I believe. They don't know what you believe. What if we believe that the best place for that person was by or side here on this planet here? Physically. Now I have gotten to a place where I do feel like my brother's time has come.
[00:28:22] Maya: But do I feel like what happened to him was okay? Absolutely not. Do I feel like it was right? Absolutely not. Do I feel like he was meant to go through a homicide? No, but I feel like each one of our journeys of grief is so personal that we need to be aware of that and to be cognizant of that and to also be, I just bring awareness to it.
[00:28:46] Maya: So when people say that, it's because they really don't know what to say to. I will say, I often say to people, I'm so sorry for your loss, but I say that because some people don't like that. But I say that because I genuinely feel it. I genuinely feel that way. I know like I feel I say it right now and I feel it in my heart as I'm speaking to you because I know what it's like is devastating and it's with you for life, and it's what you're going to do with it.
[00:29:15] Maya: It's what you do next. It's that cliche phrase. It's not what happens to your life, it's what you do with it. And there's some truth in that. I do, I do believe, because if I had just let this big ball inside of me just sit there, I would never have grown around it. If I had just let that backpack of rocks stay there, I never kept trying to pick it up, trying to pick it up.
[00:29:41] Maya: I would be stuck. I'd be laying on the ground with a back. And if I never acknowledged where the grief was in the car, I would have driven off the side of the rope because grief would've driven me into a complete car crash, probably to my death in some ways. Whether that's, you know, metaphorical or actual, it's real, and that's why I absolutely love those, those metaphors.
[00:30:05] Maya: But I wanted to bring in awareness to what people will say because as we move into the holiday, You know, my brother today is his death date, November 21st, but you know, when he did pass, that was like we left the hospital and I think, you know, within less than 36 hours we were having Thanksgiving dinner.
[00:30:24] Maya: It's traumatizing and a lot of you have lost siblings around the holidays, and this is a hard time, even if you haven't, because it might be the first time you're going through this or it's just another reminder that they're not there. , and I understand. I absolutely loathe Thanksgiving. I hate it. It's like my least favorite holiday.
[00:30:47] Maya: I've warmed up to Christmas a little bit cuz my husband likes it, but I still not the biggest fan. I love Halloween . Just a fun fact. Love Halloween. Uh, always have, and uh, there's a psychology behind it too. I understand that now because it was before all of this happened in my mind, in the, in the timeline of things.
[00:31:08] Maya: So maybe that's helpful for you as well. I don't know. It is for. To remember that kind of stuff. But I, I also promised you an update on, on my grief journey and what it's been like to share my story this year. And it's been, it's been an intense journey. I had a friend of mine, well, I should go back for a second.
[00:31:31] Maya: I had lots of friends of mine and lots of people once they, you know, this came out and. Season one in March of 2022, and the first season, of course, is my story about my grief journey for five years, and more importantly, my brother's story, and more importantly, to help surviving siblings like yourself and lots of people, friends, acquaintances.
[00:31:58] Maya: Oh, ask me what it was like to share, share my journey. What was it like? What did it feel like? And before I could even like answer that, it was more of a, it must have been so cathartic. Right? Or it must have been so healing right? Or must have been so like, I couldn't even answer the real question. Which I found very interesting.
[00:32:16] Maya: It just shows how uncomfortable we still are with the process of, of grief and the journey of grief because it's lifelong. And I don't tell you that it's lifelong to make you feel hopeless. I'm telling you all this to make you feel hopeful and I hope , that I am inspiring hope and not defeat because when we constantly feel in grief, like.
[00:32:43] Maya: Uh, I'm always gonna feel this way. I'm always gonna just feel like I don't wanna go on or I don't wanna keep pushing forward, or I can't even get outta bed. I can't shower, I can't clean the house, I can't do the laundry. I can't, I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. The constant, constant cans, I wanna normalize that because that is, that's okay and that's true, but you are going to feel.
[00:33:04] Maya: Different. As the years go on, you're going to be able to grow around that big like hard rock. You're gonna be able to pick up the rock rocks in the backpack. You get stronger in a way that you didn't even know that was within you. But that doesn't mean that it's not okay to give yourself permission to grieve.
[00:33:24] Maya: Still, you grieve for life. It's just about how you move forward. You will not move on. And that doesn't have to be negative. It doesn't have to be negative at all. The things that I do not honor my brother, bring me, bring me joy, and I don't believe in that phrase like, oh, he's at peace, or I'm at peace now.
[00:33:46] Maya: Or no, you're never really at peace. You don't wanna lose this person. They were gone too soon. You don't expect to lose your sibling. They're your first of so many things in life. I can find a way to move forward with all of this heaviness, and that's what I hope to give to you as well. And that was an interesting thing with.
[00:34:10] Maya: These people in my life, there was really only one friend that looked at me across the table, kind of at the, I believe it was like right at the end of season one. And I was ramping up for season two and doing recordings this season now. And she asked me how was it like, how did it make you feel? What was the experience?
[00:34:30] Maya: And there was a pause that was. And I love her so much for that, and I'm so grateful for that. And she's actually a newer friendship. I haven't known her for like decades, but I was like, oh my God, this is so refreshing. Like I was waiting for the, it must be so cathartic. It must be so like, like amazing to get that off your chest or it must be so like therapeutic.
[00:34:55] Maya: Like I heard so many things like that. But she paused and she stared and she looked at me and she. Waiting for the genuine answer, so to answer that for her. But for all of you, because I've, I wanna continue to be open and raw and honest. This is what it felt like season one, sharing my full story. I held nothing back.
[00:35:19] Maya: And I started off by saying that to. And I said, you know what? It felt like she travels quite a bit. So I think she could relate to this, but this is literally what it felt like for me. I said it felt like I traveled around the world multiple times and I had had luggage to begin with, and I accrued more and more luggage.
[00:35:35] Maya: And then I finally found somewhere that felt home enough to me where I could just set it down and the weight and the exhaustion for my arms, and just like everything was. It was relieved. I'm not saying I felt relief, but like there was, that's just how I felt. I mean, there was some sort of sense of relief, but like the weight off, I don't, I don't know how else it was so deep.
[00:36:02] Maya: It wasn't just one thing that people were asking me, was it cathartic? Was it therapeutic? Was it sad? Was it happy? Were you mad? Were you angry? Were you, I just wanted to look at them and be like, yes, . It was all of those things, and it is all of those things, but telling. The truth, telling my brother's truth.
[00:36:22] Maya: There's nothing better or more gratifying in this world than to be able to tell the truth and to kind of hold your breath. This, this is the bad part. Or hold your breath for a minute and go, oh God, I don't know how everybody's gonna take this. But then know that you helped at least one person, then nothing else really matters.
[00:36:46] Maya: And so that's why I think she really understood exactly what I was saying by that. And she's been such an advocate ever since, and I really appreciate that. And that really opened up a whole lot more to me because I realized, oh my God, if I was able to do that myself, like I was even more charged up for season two and, and couldn't wait to bring all these incredible guests on.
[00:37:07] Maya: And that's another part of this process that I do wanna address as well, because it was a tough process. For season two to pick the guests because I put season one out not knowing it was just be being a season one. And I, I didn't know that. I just knew I wanted to tell my story and tell my brother's story and get it out there and help other surviving siblings, and I didn't know how it would go.
[00:37:30] Maya: And then when season two happened, we were very selective in the guests that we picked for particular reasons because. , I wanted every single one of you as surviving siblings, or if you're a supporter or a parent or whoever you are in this journey, I want you to be able to identify with at least one story.
[00:37:49] Maya: So it was so important to vary. The stories vary. The backgrounds vary. The length of the loss vary. The personalities vary, the things that these people have done to advocate for their siblings and the connection, and I hope we've done a good job. That's really been the mission here. And you know, some of us haven't lost a sibling.
[00:38:13] Maya: Suddenly some of us have lost them through an illness. Some of us have lost them later in life. Some of us have lost them earlier in life, and I really wanted all that varied. Now, I will say that there are some aspects that have not been covered yet, and that's why we. Hopefully more seasons to go, and that's my goal is to cover as much as possible and share your stories.
[00:38:35] Maya: But I had so much empathy going into the season because I really understood what it was like to put yourself out there. I mean, I did 12 episodes of just my story and. Everything I went through for five years and again, just held nothing back. So had so much empathy and understanding for every guest that came on this season, and I think the guest that I connected with the most because of the fact that there's still so many things going on with my own brother Homicide.
[00:39:11] Maya: It's definitely Maha's episode. It's been 20 years for her. She knew the guy, she knew who it was, knew of him who killed her brother, and there was really no resolve for her. And I can have just beyond, like beyond empathetic feelings for her and was so lucky to meet her and it's a beautiful thing. Check out the episode there if you haven't listened to Maha's episode, but I think that was really the incredible part of.
[00:39:41] Maya: I connected with every single guest, though in this deep way and understanding exactly what they went through, but also simultaneously we had different stories. Like I just, I knew the pain within myself. I knew what it was like to pick up that, that backpack and keep trying, or that rock hard ball inside of the craft or what it was like for the grieve to move around the car.
[00:40:09] Maya: Again, I wanna shout out to those, um, guests that gave me those metaphors. You guys are incredible, but putting myself out there is really important and also letting you guys know where I am in my grief journey. Where we left off with my story, it was really unknown and I got asked a lot of questions about.
[00:40:30] Maya: Why I believe in a couple. So a couple different things. One, why I believe in the fact that there is no closure, there's just answers. So I'm gonna address that. I got a lot of questions about where I am with my family, which I'm gonna address that. And then what's next for the podcast? So the reason that I don't believe that there's truly closure for anyone is because here I.
[00:40:54] Maya: In season two, talking to all of these incredible people who are doing things to advocate for sibling loss and for us as survivors and surviving siblings and in their own way. Some of them told their story. Some of them are have websites, some of them have nonprofits, some of them have books. Some of them again, are are supporters like.
[00:41:20] Maya: That's incredible enough right there, because I know people personally that just wanna shove it down and not deal with it. So I think that's really incredible. But this thing we call closure, like when you have closure, I don't know. It's also when I see people talking about like, oh, I had a breakup. I need closure.
[00:41:39] Maya: I need to talk to them one more time. No you don't. No you don't. You want answers. You are seeking answers. What we really seek as human beings are answers because nothing's ever really closed. Nothing's really ended, in my opinion. Even death is not really permanent because I do believe that our loved ones are still with us in a different way.
[00:42:03] Maya: Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, I think the majority of people would believe that unless you believe like we die and there's nothing else, and that's fine, and I totally respect that. Even then, I feel like you don't have full closure. This idea that we have, that we have to have finality and answers, like that's not really how the world works.
[00:42:26] Maya: How we work, and this is my opinion, and I feel very strong on this, is that we need enough answers to satisfy us in order to move forward. That's what we need. So that's why I say what I say, and if having all the guests on for season two has improved that, then I'm not sure what will, because we're all moving forward, but we haven't closed, we don't have closure, we haven't closed it.
[00:42:55] Maya: We're not saying we're at peace with this, we're not, none of that stuff. No. We're able to move forward because what we're doing every single day in, in every one of our different ways and capacities is to. Our brother or sister or multiple siblings. It's a beautiful thing, but that's why I feel that way.
[00:43:17] Maya: And it was really validating to be a part of these groups. Hear your responses. I respond to every single one of your messages personally, if you , if you message us on our webpage, I respond to you personally and it comes from my email. So make sure you check like. You're spam and everything, Maya, at the surviving siblings.com.
[00:43:39] Maya: You can always email me directly to, I respond to all of them. It takes me time, but I do. So I've heard so many different perspectives now. It's not just from my guests, and so that's why I feel very strongly about that. What has gone on with me personally. So when I left, My personal story off in, we aired it in March, it was 12 episodes.
[00:44:04] Maya: So family dynamics for me have definitely evolved. I believe I shared before that, you know, my father and I had begun speaking again. We've been speaking for over a year now, which is great, and it's a, a really beautiful positive. And I've asked him if he wants to know because this podcast is out, and so does he wanna know about what happened to my brother?
[00:44:37] Maya: Does he wanna know about the medium that I talked about in season one? Does he wanna know about the things that my brother had to say and. Again, he's such a private person. Uh, but it's, I'm putting myself out there and I think it's really important. So any message for him I don't feel like is a message for the world.
[00:44:58] Maya: But I think it's important for anyone listening to understand the evolution of the relationship and the family dynamics and the positivity of this is that he wants to know one day, and I think I just have. It makes me so emotional to know that, and it made me so emotional as I shared in season one to tell you that there was only one other person seeking justice for my brother.
[00:45:26] Maya: There was only one other person calling and calling and calling the detective, and that was my dad. And knowing that just gives me this connection to him that is undeniable regardless of things that have happened. When I was younger, anything like that, and so I look forward to sharing more with all of you.
[00:45:47] Maya: I am happy to have him in my life. I'm happy that even though the story of my brother's homicide and the loss was awful and it was very difficult, I think there is. Some light and some sunshine that will come through with this. And we have some definite plans to see each other, which I think might be shocking to a lot of people, but it makes me very emotional and I'm very happy about that.
[00:46:19] Maya: He's never met my husband, he's never been involved in my, uh, current life like that. He's ebbed and flowed into my life and I was really okay with a lot of that. And I feel. Compelled to have more now because of learning that information. And it also taught me a lesson in the sense that just because he was a little bit behind me in my mission to get justice doesn't mean that he wasn't fighting in his own way.
[00:46:52] Maya: And that's a lesson in in grace and forgiveness for people. I don't really feel the same way about every single family member because I think if you really cared, you'd wanna know. I think if you really cared, you'd be fighting. But I know in my heart of hearts that he was fighting and that really changed a lot for me, and I shared some of that on season one, so I'm happy to say yes, we still do communicate and he just had a birthday, so.
[00:47:27] Maya: Very emotional, very emotional for me how things are, are turning out. And I do have a relationship, uh, again with my youngest sister. It's, I love her. She's like, not only my sister, she's like a child to me because she's 10 years younger than me, and I helped bring her up and was there for her in a very parental way.
[00:47:54] Maya: Which again, I've shared before and I've visited her twice since the earring of the podcast. And the podcast has been difficult for her, not because she doesn't support me, which was so surprising, so beautiful and such happy news for me to share with all of you because I think opening up and speaking your truth is so important.
[00:48:17] Maya: So important. And it's not that I expect her to listen to it. It's not that I expect her to. Fill in the blank, whatever, but the support that I've received from her was so refreshing and it makes you hopeful. And if I want you to take anything away from this, it's speak your truth, speak your truth, because of people who truly love.
[00:48:47] Maya: I if, if they don't wanna be a part of something that you're doing, that's okay, but if they truly love you, they're not gonna condemn me for it. I have been made aware that there are other family members, which you can probably deduce from my podcast, that are a part of the my immediate family that are really upset with me speaking my truth and really upset.
[00:49:13] Maya: Speaking the truth about my brother and speaking the truth about what happened, but I'm not gonna let that stop me. And you shouldn't let that stop you either because this is your path, this is your journey, this is your grief journey, and this is your pain. And I have absolutely zero regrets because the relationships that I have with the people that are in my life are so.
[00:49:40] Maya: And so loving and so caring and so supportive, and knowing that I've helped even one person realize they're not alone. I could care less what anyone else has to say because it truly tests how people feel about you. It really does. So, , even though there's been some, some darkness, which unfortunately I can't share at this time, but there has been some darkness in that, which I know I stand in my truth and I do, but sometimes you can't share certain things until they come to light.
[00:50:13] Maya: But I think you guys can put it together. Some people are not happy about it. They're not happy about. How the story has been told, because sometimes the truth is difficult. The truth is difficult to deal with. But my brother's story needed to be told. Your sibling stories need to be told. The truth needs to be told, and we need to support one another because there's more of us out there than we realize.
[00:50:44] Maya: I've uncovered millions of. And that breaks my heart because I see some of us join this club on a daily basis, and that was rocking me to the core when I discovered that. And so I have no regrets and I will continue to do this and pursue this and support surviving siblings support all of you. And I hope that you will continue to support us here at the Surviving Siblings Podcast.
[00:51:16] Maya: So that we can share all of your stories and change this narrative that we're the forgotten mourners, change that because we need to be remembered as well. But more importantly than anything else, our siblings need to be honored, not just as a lost child or as a lost spouse, but as a lost sibling. We hold the key to most of their memory.
[00:51:44] Maya: And I'm not gonna hold that back. And I'm gonna continue to share and I hope that you'll join me on that journey. And thank you so much for listening, and I wanna take a minute to thank everyone that made this season possible because season two would not have happened without all of you listening. So I wanna thank each and every one of you.
[00:52:05] Maya: I wanna thank our sponsor. Starting with Dr. Dawn de Armando, she is the author of Surviving Sibling Loss, the Invisible Thread that connects us. You can find her book on our website and obviously on her first episode. I wanna thank the COPE Foundation. Go to co foundation.org and they help families who have lost a child and a sibling.
[00:52:31] Maya: I did an incredible, uh, workshop with them this year. I cannot thank them enough for the support. Jen, their, uh, co-president is on episode three. So I wanna thank them again. Episode four and five is with the incredible, incredible Audrey Thurman. Audrey is the founder of Sips forever.org. Sys forever.org will tag all this in the show notes, but this is an incredible non-profit, but a platform where you can actually host all of your pictures, videos, stories.
[00:53:10] Maya: It can be private or you can share it with particular family members or public of your sibling. She was our biggest sponsor and so I wanna thank, thank, thank her so much. I, words can't describe how grateful I am. She also sponsored this special edition episode of, uh, the birthday episode of my brother and I, and I also wanna thank of course Janus Jernigan.
[00:53:37] Maya: She is the author of Opening Up to Grief, a beautiful, beautiful book. I was so attracted to this, and we connected so deeply because of the sunflowers she has everywhere and. You really wanna read this, this book and connect with her, because if you lost a sibling quite young, she talks about storing grief physically.
[00:54:02] Maya: I mean it's, it's just a wealth of knowledge because I do think we actually physically store grief. So that was quite eye-opening for me. And of course I wanna thank myself because I sponsor season one. I. The season all myself. But season two I sponsored several of the episodes. So, um, my company, my opinion, sponsored it.
[00:54:21] Maya: But more importantly, I wrote a grief guide and it is the Grief Guide for Surviving Siblings. This is written. By a surviving sibling for surviving siblings. It's available on the website in the show notes, all proceeds go to the podcast. This is how we will keep producing the podcast. This is how we'll come out with season three and be able to tell more of your stories and continue this journey with all of you all.
[00:54:50] Maya: Again, all proceeds go to the podcast. You can always donate to us too, but why not just. The grief guide, it's a downloadable link. It's an ebook, and it's something I wrote during season one because I realized my grief journey and what I wish I would've had, just a simple tool. But it's 23 pages, so it's, it's got some meaty content in there.
[00:55:13] Maya: That's where we are. That's where we're going. I hope to continue to give you all these beautiful stories from more surviving siblings. My dream is to cover every kind of story possible for surviving siblings. There's so many out there. There's so many of us out there, and until the next season. Thank you for supporting us.
[00:55:37] Maya: Continue to listen and I hope you tap into the resources, our sponsors, and the grief guide. And until then, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.
[00:55:50] Maya: 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, then share it on your chosen social media platform. And don't forget to tag. At Surviving Siblings Podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us. Remember to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast.
[00:56:14] Maya: And don't forget to follow us on all social media platforms. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at Surviving Siblings Podcast. All links can be found in the show notes, so be sure to check those out too. Thank you again for the support. Until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.