The end of a hard journey for my brother. . .

It’s sad. I talked to him about a week ago. He had just filled out paperwork to get a Scooter; you know, one of those motorized chairs that he could run around town in. He lived about 900 miles away now, moving from here last summer after many battles with MS left him unable to live here at home with Zane and I. He lived in a nice assisted living center, but hated it here. He wanted to return to where we grew up in Missouri and so, last June, Zane and I helped him move. But he wanted his own apartment, no more assisted living. And, for the last 9 months, he has been doing well. He was very happy and seemed to have the MS in remission again.
So when I got home from school today about 11 a.m. and there was a phone message to call the management office at the apartment building, I thought he had probably fallen and was in the hospital. At least that’s the best I could think.
But when I returned the call, I found that they had discovered his body in his apartment today after realizing they hadn’t seen him for about a week. According to the police officer that answered the call when they found his body, and the funeral home official, it appears that he had probably had a massive coronary, fell beside his bed, and died. His walker was still right by where he had fallen, the bedclothes were not moved as they would be if he had tried to pull himself up. Nothing. Just a very decomposed body.
So now what do I do? My brother was my best friend for many, many years, and we often talked about what would be done if this happened. He wanted no funeral or memorial service, and he wanted to be cremated. So I have begun the work on that, and I just faxed back the crematorium authorization form to the funeral home.
My younger brother and I are trying to see who can best take a couple of days to go back and close up his accounts and apartment. There aren’t a great number of things we will want to keep. Some family mementoes, his computer (mainly because that’s where he has his financial records), and a couple of other little things.
I guess there’s a part of me that hopes my younger brother can’t go. Going myself, handling his belongings, talking to the funeral home and apartment people who found him, as well as the few friends he had made while he was there. Those things might help with closure.
But at the same time, this is my last block before COMLEX boards, I just had to have my hip injected with steroids again (for bursitis, which put me in a wheelchair last year), and, I know he had told me not to come if this happened.
I’m just very sad and tired right now.

Hi, Linda. My name is Barb. I am so, so sorry for your loss. It is so sad that you lost your brother. I am glad that it sounds like he didn’t suffer, but your suffering is of course not reduced.
I have lost both my parents in the last couple of years, and although that doesn’t compare with the loss of a sibling–I think losing a sibling would be harder–I really feel for you.
I hope you can find some sweetness within the sorrow.

I am sorry I have no advice for you, but I wanted to pass along my condolences. Please be sure to take care of yourself during this difficult time. You are in our thoughts.

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I have never experienced such a thing so I can only imagine. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. If you need anything or just need to talk, you have my number.
Sincerely, your friend Geoff.

Linda, I am so sorry to hear about this. In terms of what to do next - what do YOU want to do? What will help YOU to cope with his loss and what will make YOU feel better as you process through all of this?
Having just gone through this with my mom, I do appreciate the dilemmas inherent in the situation. On the one hand, you can hear his voice saying, “Don’t make a fuss, don’t disrupt your life.” The key is to separate out his intention of not messing up your life vs. YOUR intention of honoring HIS life. And quite frankly, you don’t need to honor his wishes so slavishly that you feel you have not done what you need to do to recognize his passing.
In my mom’s situation, she was adamant that she wanted her funeral at the church SHE attended rather than the one our father went to (long story). Well, at the time she died, her church was under renovation and unavailable for funerals, and so her funeral was at my dad’s church which she really hated. However, it gave my dad a great deal of comfort to have her funeral in his church, and truthfully I think we would’ve arranged that even if it wasn’t necessary - it sounds kinda harsh, but all of us daughters concluded, “Dad’s the one who’s still here to care, so let’s make sure he’s comfortable.”
Not sure this is making sense, but I hope it helps somehow. I am so very sorry for your shocking loss, Linda. I do think you should go.

Thank you all so much for your kind and comforting responses. They really have helped a lot.
So I have decided to go to Missouri. I have arranged it with my associate dean and my PBL colleagues. I was supposed to be the student doctor presenting my case on Friday, but one of my classmates has offered to do it for me.
I think I have to go. Without going and being there one more time to see what he loved and be where he loved to be, I don’t think I could have closure. So Zane and I are driving down tomorrow, we’ll sort through his things on Friday and keep everything that was important to him or was part of our family heritage. My cousin is going to come down as well. She lives about 200 miles away, and we were all really close growing up. She just talked to him last Wednesday after I did, and said he sounded really happy. That helps a lot.
After we sort through his things, I will bring the important stuff home and take care of the business stuff, like his credit cards, bank accounts, etc. The funeral home has been wonderful. They are filing the paperwork with his life insurance company, so all the costs accrued will simply be deducted from his life insurance. All the rest of his stuff, his furniture, old car, clothing, etc., will be donated to charity.
Thanks again.

Wendy & I both send our heartfelt condolences. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know. I know how much Wendy went through when she lost her Dad a few years ago, during my 2nd year of med school.
I think I will just give you a ring…

My condolences to you and your family for your loss. He sounded like a strong and independent soul. Some closure will be a good thing. Be safe.

I’m so sorry for your loss, and your families. I hope the journey helps. You cared for your brother so much and for so long, I think it’s right to take your time saying goodbye.

I’m so sorry. I think you are doing the right thing by going as well. Hang in there and don’t forget that we are thinking about you.

Peace be with you and your family in this time of sorrow. Always cherish what you had together, for our loved ones never die they always live on in our hearts and in our memories.

My thoughts are with you and your family.
Take care and let us know how you are doing.

Thank you all for your kind wishes and thoughts.
Zane and I drove to Missouri last Thursday (16 hours) and took care of settling my brother’s affairs on Friday. I felt really blessed to have a fantastic funeral home involved. They couldn’t have been nicer or helped any more. And the people at my brother’s apartment building were wonderful. The maintenance manager spent most of the day helping us go through everything and load the important things into the car. Then we boxed up what we wanted to have but couldn’t fit into the car, and Rudy said he would ship them to us this week. Most of the other stuff we donated to charity or to any of the other people in his building who wanted it.
We had a little personal memorial service at his favorite restaurant; since he did not want a service at all, I thought he would appreciate my honoring his decision. And he really loved this little chili place. It’s been there since we were kids and is still a local favorite. We even followed his tradition of buying some extra bricks of chili and bringing them home with us. I bought one extra brick for one of our osteopathic manipulative medicine instructors; he grew up in the area and talks about Fred and Red’s chili all the time. I’ll give it to him later this week.
Anyway, I was back in class this morning. My PBL group members had flowers and a card for me, and there were lots of hugs and words of support from all, including the facilitators.
Now I just have to focus on putting one foot in front of the other while I continue to work towards COMLEX in June.
Thanks again for all your support and compassion during a really tough time.

I’m so sorry I didn’t see your posts before now, but my thoughts and prayers are with you. I know how hard it is to experience a death during med school, and I’m glad you had the support of a good funeral home, as well as Zane, with you. Your school sounds wonderfully supportive, and I’m sure that contributes a lot to student success. Take care and continued success in school.