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I have not known what to say about the loss of my brother Bob. The loss is monumental, like a hole in the universe. His personality was so large that the loss seems even greater. I have been in a state of mental fog, disorientation, and loneliness for the last two weeks. It comes in waves, and today is especially hard for some reason. He passed away on November 2nd. I drove 4 1/2 hours to Maine to attend the funeral and to see family members. It was raining all the way and difficult driving. I counted 30 family members at my sister-in-law’s house the Thursday night before we buried him on Friday. She graciously served up some Italian sandwiches and whoopee pies, two of Bob’s favorites, and I must say favorites of all of us.

Seeing so many family members was more than a treat; it was healing and reassuring. I reconnected with my nephew Les, and saw my niece Kelly. I also met my great-nephew Jack for the first time, and saw my great-niece Jessica for the first time in many years. My sister-in-law’s six grandchildren, young and lively, lent a most welcome sense of fun and hope. My sister Jane and her husband Jim drove up from Virginia; my brother Ronnie and his wife Gail flew from Chicago. My cousin David and his wife Carla came from Cape Cod; Bob’s son is from Long Island. Most everyone else was from Maine. That so many were present is a testament to our far-flung but close-knit family.

I have lost two brothers, a sister, two infant sons, a husband, parents, and grandparents. It does not get easier, and in fact the cumulative effect is very great. These kinds of losses cannot be replaced. Bob and I had our differences, and he often criticised me. However, he was my brother and our bond eternal. He is the one person on earth I have known the longest.

I am finding it hard to go out to shop or anything like that and am trying to ease my stress by cooking. Today it is Indian pudding and a spicy quinoa and sweet potato casserole. Sounds good, huh? I hope it will be.

My priest told me to go about my life and to live fully every day. That is good advice and I’m trying to do that. TV has little meaning. Reading is helpful, but sometimes it is difficult to concentrate. Loss has forced me to reevaluate priorities, look at my shortcomings and my strengths, try to improve relationships and reconnect with family. This is an ongoing process, and I am trying.

Two things I have learned about Loss: Say “I love you” to the people we care about. It is comforting, healing, and empowering to both you and the loved one. Secondly, take every opportunity to use your gifts in ways that are meaningful to others. That is the reason we are here.