I was sitting on a chair in the small waiting room.
The rest of my family had gathered in the room my brother was in. It was dead silent – so quiet, I was sure even the clock seemed to stop working. The emptiness of the room only made me feel lonelier, colder, and more confused than ever.
How could such a healthy young boy be connected to life support within the matter of a single day? I didn’t know what to do, or say, or even think.
So I just sat silently – until I heard a sudden shriek.
A stranger I’d never seen before ran into the waiting room. He grasped me tightly, wailing. “Your brother is dead!” he cried. “Your brother is dead!”
I stared ahead at the white walls. The comment the man just made meant nothing to me. I had no idea how I was meant to react. I did not cry. I did not scream. I did not faint like the others around me.
I just stared.
Is it bad that I didn’t cry when I first heard the news that my brother had passed away? I guess it makes sense.
One minute you’re frolicking around school with your best friends, the next minute you’re told that your brother is in the hospital on the verge of death. Who’s to blame if our so-called powerful brains can’t handle such dumbfounding, unpredicted news?
I still remember the scene as if it were yesterday. One by one, people made their way into the waiting room, all bawling their eyes out. It all seemed so scary to me – not that my brother had died, to be honest, but the way everyone was reacting. I’d never seen so many people cry at once. And at the age of eight, your mind doesn’t work like those of the adults surrounding you. The fact that my brother had died hadn’t completely hit me yet because it was so absurd and shocking. I barely even understood the concept of death at that age.
[bctt tweet=”Your reaction is not who you are as a person, but only something used to deal with the shock.” username=”wearethetempest”]
“Is it going to be rude of me if I don’t cry and act like I’m sad?” I wondered. “Will people think I’m a horrible sister? What will my parents think? I guess I better start crying.” I didn’t know what to do but to imitate the chorus of cries around me. Don’t get me wrong – when the news finally struck me a few days later, it hit hard. I became a complete wreck. But in that moment, no one who hears such shocking news can comprehend exactly what they just heard.
Don’t get me wrong – when the news finally struck me a few days later, it hit hard. I became a complete wreck. But in that moment, no one who hears such shocking news can comprehend exactly what they just heard.
For so many years, I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I didn’t cry from true emotion when I heard the news. I felt guilty that everyone pitied me when I wasn’t hurting as bad, and pretending to put up an act. But as the years passed by, I realized that I couldn’t blame myself for this.
[bctt tweet=”What else do you expect an eight-year-old to bargain?” username=”wearethetempest”]
Not only was I so young, but how do you expect me to act when on Thursday morning I said goodbye to my younger brother before leaving for school, only to find him lying dead in the hospital bed Friday night?
If adults can’t believe the situation, how in the world is a little eight-year-old girl supposed to conduct herself? No matter how old we are, no matter how much we are able to understand, the stages of grief are the same for everyone. I remember how much I denied to believe that my brother was connected to life support and he could die any minute. I remember becoming angry at the doctors: why couldn’t they fix him, why couldn’t they give him some magical medicine to make it all better?
Then it came to bargaining, and let me tell you now, there was a lot of bargaining involved.
I said that’d I’d eat all my fruits and vegetables if he lived. I said I’d never tease him again or be mean to him if he lived. What else do you expect an eight-year-old to bargain?
Now that I look back at the situation, I realize that it doesn’t matter what age we are. Just because we think little kids are too young to understand anything, doesn’t mean they don’t go through the same things we do. It may be different in their perspective, but it’s still the same reaction.
Your reaction is not who you are as a person, but only something used to deal with the shock. The human brain can only handle so much, and sometimes, it’s okay to let go of your senses, handle the situation like you usually wouldn’t, and simply let the circumstances take over.