My brother died almost exactly 7 months ago, at the age of 40. I understand my parents are still grieving, so logical thinking is not coming naturally to them at this point.  But some of the things they do and say are really bothering me. I am trying to let them work out their grief in their own way, but here are a few odd things that have come up:

  • They visit his grave every single day. I guess it helps them feel like they still have some connection to him, but I don't quite understand it.
  • They've told me that, when they visit his grave, they read recent posts from his Facebook Timeline to him.  This one I find extremely mystifying.  If they believe he can still hear them, how does that whole thing work?  Why go to his grave to communicate? Do they believe he's there, sleeping?  I just don't get that one.
  • My brother's cat died a few weeks ago, so my parents and my living brother (who isn't exactly a believer) immediately posted on Facebook that my dead brother and his cat were "together now."  I imagine this is a pretty typical version of the "life after death" myth: "Heaven must be where we are reunited with those we love.  So if he loved his cat, he and the cat are together in heaven."
  • My parents (and some other family members, I think) have mentioned recently that my brother is currently serving as a sort of "guardian angel" over his nieces (my daughters and my other brother's daughters).  I really don't get that one.
  • My mom was raised Lutheran, so I guess, nominally, she's always been sort of a Christian in her head, even though she doesn't go to church or anything.  Shortly after my brother died, she told me that she "has to believe in heaven," because she has to believe that she'll get to see my brother again someday.  I almost understand that one, because it's an extension of her grief at having lost her son so early in his life.  Still, it seems like a crap excuse to believe in God, heaven, etc.
  • My dad has never been a very religious person at all; he used to be a biology teacher, and quite happily taught evolution, always enjoying a good debate with religious types.  But my brother's death seems to have made him buy into the heaven myth a lot more now. That's just a little weird to me.

Let me make it clear, I don't really blame my parents for fuzzy thinking on this issue.  I miss my brother, too...I just don't believe that he lives on in some hazy paradise.  All we have are our memories now, and we all feel that there aren't enough of those, since he died so young.  But clinging to a belief in heaven, just because we feel that it would be nice to see him again, makes no sense to me.  I really can't accept the idea of the dead sort of looking down on earth, keeping up with what's going on.  But I guess grief makes people believe all kinds of odd things.  But my brother is dead.  Period. End of story.

Have other people reading this dealt with this kind of thing before? I imagine it's pretty typical, considering the situation.  Thanks for reading.

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