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The Sibling Connection
Experiencing the Death of a Sibling as a College Student
Carlie Rose

           I went to bed on Sunday night ready to wake up on Monday to start my week. Little did I know that at 3 am on Monday morning I would have to be ready to start a whole new life. It was at that time that I received a phone call from my dad telling me that my sister was "very sick" and that I would have to get on the next flight home. The next few hours in the early morning were a confusion of emotions, flight schedules, and phone calls home trying to get any information that I could. I knew that she died, but I was not going to admit it to anyone before I got to the hospital and had proof. After a long morning, I finally arrived at the airport and was taken to the hospital by a friend of the family. I got my proof. My sister, Carlie Rose, died early in the morning of bacterial meningitis. My family kept her on life support until my grandma and I were able to make it to the hospital.

           The most devastating horrible thing to ever happen was happening to my family and me. The next few days are a blur of people and emotions. The funeral was especially hard. The sanctuary was full, there were five or six hundred people. The burial was the hardest thing I will and have ever gone through. The days following the funeral consisted of many people and food. I don't remember most of it; a lot of things have been blocked from my memory. This is normal for people dealing with grief.

           Those days turned to weeks and I returned to school. I needed to play a big game of catch-up. Some teachers were understanding, some weren't. I found that some days school is a very lonely place. Even today, 9 months later I feel that way. Most of my friends have not had to deal with loss, especially one this close. It is hard to grieve when everyone around you is moving on with their life and seemingly having fun. I worry that I am burdening my friends with my sadness.

           The grief process is more complicated than I ever imagined. Not only is my day filled with emotions of all kinds, there are physical symptoms as well. I lost a lot of weight since Carlie died due to a decreased appetite. Sometimes I shake, especially when I get emotional. When I get nervous, anxious, or especially sad I get panic attacks too. Nothing is too severe or abnormal for grief, sometimes it is just hard to accept that this is part of my life now.

           I am very lucky that I have a very supportive family. My parents are doing their best to take my emotions and my brothers into account all the time. I go home a lot because I like to spend time with my family. We talk about my sister all the time.

           The thing about grief is that it comes in all different forms and you never know what emotion is going to happen next. A lot of things trigger emotions for me, sometimes I am affected, and sometimes I am not. Sometimes laughing makes me cry and or crying makes me laugh. Sometimes I don't want to be around people, other times I hate to be alone. This is very hard to deal with because all I know that I need from people is for them to be flexible.

           This is the best advice that I can give on helping someone who is grieving, be flexible. Even when you think they are ok, or if years have passed they still have bad days. It is important that they know you are there for them. One of the most important things that I am learning how to do is live my life with my loss. Nothing I can do will ever make things better, so I am doing the best that I can.

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