"These images, and many more, haunt me now, pecking away at my protective shell of denial until I stand defenseless in their wake. I now understand the meaning of the expression grief stricken; it accurately captures the punch-in-the-stomach reality I'm experiencing.
The grief is bigger than me now; it lingers around every corner, like a bully, waiting to pounce. I feel trapped, confused, and afraid. I keep expecting someone to come to the rescue, to drop from the sky in a red cape and scare off the bully, but no one seems to notice my trembling.
So I run. Instinct leads me to seek refuge in a safe place where I can begin to make sense of my loss. . .
The solitude brings relief; it becomes my shield, my healing remedy against the noise and the mindless chatter of the day that pierce my soul like a thousand tiny needles. . .
I climb into the car and sit for a moment in the darkness. I have an uneasy feeling, almost as if I've forgotten something. 'What is it?' I ask myself. 'What is it?'
And then, all at once, a memory flashes. . .
I hear [her] voice, clear and strong, always with a note of reassurance. I can feel what it's like to be with [her] -- that same easy, familiar presence I've known all my life.
And then, in an instant, it's gone. The memory vanishes as quickly as it came, slipping beneath the dark waters with the late afternoon sun.
I sit very still for several minutes, a flutter of grief rising in my chest. 'How can life go on without you?' I whisper as I start the engine and head for home.
. . . The shock and disbelief have given way to a sort of pining, a longing to see my [sister] just one more time. I find myself making a special effort to remember the little things. . .
Reorientation -- the period in which we begin to learn how to adjust to life without our brother or sister.
But how can I learn to live in a world that doesn't include my [sister]? All my life, I've always been my [sister's] sister; it's part of my identity, part of who I am. My [sister] is part of my past; we share a common history. And we had plans for the future. I must, therefore, shift my perspective and change many goals in order to assimilate [her] loss into my life. Needless to say, this is an emotionally painful process because it feels as if I'm weeding [her] out of my life, which only compounds my grief.
Reorientation is also taking place within my family of origin. Established roles begin to shift, and no one quite knows their place anymore. We try on our new roles, but they don't quite fit; we shuck them off uncomfortably, like old coats. . . [My sister's] many roles lie in a heap on the floor alongside a mound of unfulfilled dreams. . ."