Dear Mind Matters,
I am a junior at FAMU who is having difficulty staying motivated. I used to be energetic and active on campus. Nothing has been the same since my younger brother died unexpectedly in a car accident. Although it’s been two years, it seems like yesterday. My friends say it’s time to move on, but I miss him. Life is not the same without him. How do I get back on track?
Dear Missing Him,
Losing an immediate family member ranks as one of the most difficult challenges any of us will face. When death comes knocking unexpectedly-taking away the young- the world seems particularly unfair. The relationship between you and your brother was special. As his big sister, you probably nurtured and fostered his development by playing, laughing and scolding him. His death changed your role and responsibility in the family system and as his big sister. Your plans and dreams for the two of you also changed. Change can be traumatic, but may afford an opportunity for personal growth.
The way in which we experience a natural phenomenon like death depends on culture. In the West, death is thought of as the final act. Once we have transcended our physical bodies, we cease to exist-we can no longer communicate with our loved ones. However, many cultures view death as a peaceful transition and believe that our loved ones desire to stay connected to us. If you perceive your brother as inaccessible, he will not be available to assist you, but if you view him as accessible, he will be there for you.
No one should dictate how long you should grieve or in what way you should grieve. All emotion is valid. If you feel like crying, have a good cry. If you feel like laughing, have a good laugh.
Ask your brother for guidance in easing the pain associated with his physical absence. Learn to meditate and relax your mind so that you can receive a special message from him.
Try writing to him to share all that he means to you. Talk to family and friends about him. Put together a collage about your life together. Keep him alive in your heart! If you still need assistance getting on with your life, try a support group. The Center for Human Development offers a Grief Group every Tuesday at 4-5 p.m. For more information, contact 599-3145.
Sharon Dennard has a doctorate in psychology She can be reached at Human Development Center.