nothing and everything

June 13, 2014 |  Category:   family life


The thing about grief is that eventually everyone moves on, but those who are hit the hardest stay suspended in time, frozen, unable to move. The strangest form of loneliness is felt when you’re out of sync like this with the rest of the world. I listen to music a lot. Sometimes I stare at nothing because I feel nothing and other times I feel too much. But most of the time I don’t know what to feel.


I spent 6 days in California last week, a trip that was often confusing, but necessary. Sometimes with siblings it’s easier to remember how we were as children when we were still living under the same roof than to think of ourselves as adults when years of physical distance separates us. I know that he didn’t consider California his home–his heart was always here in NY–but what I came to know about my brother was that he was loved by his community. Our family always knew my brother was smart, but I don’t think we really ever realized how brilliant he was and that was something that came up time and again as we talked with his friends and colleagues. He was a dedicated professional, respected in his field of veterinary medicine, only 1 of a few hundred board certified critical care specialists in the world. More than that, however, it was clear from the crying faces of some of his clients that he made a difference in people’s lives.
I don’t believe that there is really ever any closure. You sort of just learn to go about your life with this new thread that’s knit into your being. I only hope that I too can someday make a difference in people’s lives the way my brother did in his.
P.S. thank you for all your words. I will always carry them with me.

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  • Siobhan June 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I love what you say about grief and loss being a new thread that’s knit into your being. It’s so true, at least in my experience. All my best, S.

  • unha June 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    sending hugs.

  • Roos June 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Trust me, I truly believe you have already made a difference in many people’s lives. No crying faces needed…

    Sending you strength to deal with being in your bubble of loneliness. As my husband is dealing with cancer we often feel like we are living in a strange, isolated box. The trick is to see that there is no separation, no “us” vs. “the rest”. One some days we manage to wake up and realize that, on others we still hide in our box and wonder why everybody is moving on.
    Take care!

  • Carrie Snow June 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    When my dad passed, I remember a professor saying to me, “Thinking of you as you figure out how to integrate this loss into your life”. Those words stayed with me more than any others I received at that time. I think back on them often, because she was right. 12 years later, I have never closed the door to my dad being gone, but I’ve figured a zillion ways to integrate his absence into my life. Plus, those we love continue to live on in us, our hearts, our minds…

    I wish the same for you.

  • Deliane June 13, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Best wishes. Can only hope that our comments can have the same effect as your posts, which are a source of inspiration and reflection.

  • RebeccaNYC June 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    In the past year I have lost two dear friends and a parent. Loss just seems to be part of an adult life. In feeling a bit numb, I have come to realize that this is part of what we grow to become prepared for. If we are lucky, we are adults when this happens. If not, Well, we lose our loved ones as children. I consider myself one of the luckiest ones, and I send you much love.

  • Helle June 15, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Recently I read about a 10-year old who wrote a book for his 2-year old brother when they lost their 7-year old brother, about how to live with an invisible brother, who is not there anymore, but still there. As you write, there probably never will be closure, but eventually one learns to live with the loss. It must be a great comfort to have heard and seen how loved and appreciated your brother was.

  • Haemee June 15, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Jenna, I couldn’t have explained the grieving process any better than you have. I lost my mum recently and I get what you mean about being out of sync and suspended in time. I realise that I must accept it as something I will inevitably have to learn to live with from now. Sending you lots of love your way.

  • rain m June 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    good vibes and warm thoughts your way from a loyal reader. i dont have advice because jesus, i cant even imagine. i hope these coming weeks will give you peace and some room to heal.

  • Audrie June 16, 2014 at 3:17 am

    I’ve lost loved ones and I still never know what to say to anyone who’s grieving because everyone’s grief is different. You never get over it, but it’ll hopefully get easier to live with in time. There’s still times I sit and sob, years after, and that’s okay because it means that they were loved.

  • C.A. June 16, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I’ve been quietly reading your blog for awhile now and I’m saddened by the news of what you’re going through. You speak of it beautifully though despite what I’m sure you’re feeling inside. What you said about having to just go on with a new thread knit in your being makes all the sense. I lost my dad late last year and I’m still living with the idea of it, every day. I’ve learned the same as you said though, that you just have to live with it, however you can. I know I am just a reader, but I’m so sorry for all of what you and your family are going through and I wish you guys the best of strength to get through this time.

  • Lisa June 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I completely agree that there is never any closure. I lost my father 6 years ago to colon cancer – he was only 61, I was just 27. Merely 2 weeks between his diagnosis and his death. 6 years have passed but I still have frequent moments of pain, of wishing he was still here, and it’s so hard to just have to sigh them away because there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change it. That’s what’s hardest – the permanence of it. Time puts it sort of out of focus, but the simple fact is that it’s always there, and the times when something brings it to the forefront are difficult to say the least.

    But, I do what I can to keep him with me. I think about him frequently, I hang up a few of his pictures, I talk about him, I’ll tell my son about him. I do take some comfort in knowing he’s always with me.

    Sending you healing and comfort… Hang in there.

  • Jen June 17, 2014 at 2:42 am


  • Amy June 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I have never really understood the concept of closure. Just wanted to write and say that you already do make a difference in many lives. Thank you for continuing to share your work and thoughts, even during this terrible time.

  • Janet June 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    I don’t really know what to say, besides that I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Your letter was beautiful. Grief is such a mystery to me, as I think it is to most people (or everyone?) There’s no way to know what you’ll feel or how you’ll feel it until you do. I hope writing about it will help you. I think it will. And I feel sure that your writing will help those who read it. Including me. Thanks for that.

  • Cristina June 18, 2014 at 6:13 am

    sorry to read this. All my condoleances to you and your family.

  • Mary Anne Pangilinan June 21, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I’ve been a long time reader and I appreciate you letting us know how you are going. Yes the world moves on while you are frozen. That’s how i felt too when my dad passed away suddenly. Just be easy on yourself . There is no right way to grieve. It was nice how you said that your brother made a difference in his clients’ lives. Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time xx

  • leila June 24, 2014 at 1:50 am

    i’m so sorry for your loss. i’ve just lost someone really close to my heart as well, and know how much it hurts. i agree, i don’t think we ever really get over it, but learn how to live our lives differently. sending positive thoughts your way xx

  • Aloha June 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss…grief is a journey that someone told me once was like surfing….you stay afloat until the next wave comes and repeat,but as time passes you learn how to ride that wall of grief and cope. It’s very early for yourself and it’s time for baby steps now….I pray his wife has a good support system. As I lost my fiancé suddenly years ago. But there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t in my thoughts. Peace to you and your family at this time.

  • Kimi June 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I don’t know if I should even say this, because it may be so off base as to need to be immediately flushed down the toilet—but I got told it once, and it helped. People in pain, whether of chronic illness or depression or anything else, sometimes they simply can’t go on no matter how much people want them to look into the future. They need the pain to end. They must put down their burdens, no matter how much we will miss them.

    But it’s also ok to be rip-roaringly mad at them and at the universe that life is like this. Anyway. I keep thinking about your brother and talk to my husband about it at night and hug my kid over it. That’s how moving it is.

  • Veronica August 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I have been your long time reader. I am very sorry to hear about your loss, I have recently lost my grandma lately and my grandpa a few years ago. Memories of them will always live in my heart, it is definitely hard to move on and it’s sometimes surreal to think that they are no longer here physically.

    Remember that the memories you have with your brother will live on forever.