|Five years ago today, at just eighteen years old my younger brother had a heart attack and died. Two weeks later he was laid to rest among a sea of bright colours. We wanted his funeral to be a celebration of life, particularly his life, rather than a dark recognition of his death. He loved bright colours – so we asked people to wear them to his funeral and they did.
He once said that he was popular, we didn’t realise just how true this was. People came in their numbers, many more than expected. The church pews filled and many people had to stand up at the back of the church.
We continue this celebration of his life today. Later we will send brightly coloured helium balloons into the night’s sky, complete with written messages to him tacked onto the ribbon of the balloons.
To me, sometimes it feels like an eternity since Alex’s death. Sometimes it feels as though it happened yesterday. Sometimes I forget that it’s happened at all, then something will trigger my memory and my heart is flooded with the pain caused by his death.
At one time I avoided any photos of Alex. I avoided anyone one who reminisced, sharing a memory of Alex. I found photos and shared memories uncomfortable, as they reminded me of the truth of his death.
But as the years have passed, I’ve started to deal with the loss. I’ve realised that death is death. But grief is disbelief, not understanding and pain. Grief is a mystical thing, one that is variable and changes everyday.
Now, today, I can look at a photo of Alex with a smile. I can remember a happy memory and even share it with others. It’s taken five years, and I’m still working on it. But maybe the passage of time has allowed some acceptance within my heart. So here is a photo of him: