Page 26 - 2017 Spring-Summer Issue
P. 26

© Romolo Tavani/

                             Sibling Chivalry in Grief

                             by Mitch Carmody

                             My 9-year-old son Kelly James died of cancer                                 Honesty and transparency
                             in 1987. That event changed my life forever,
                             but many do not know of the other familial                                   make you vulnerable.
                             losses that preceded his. It seems life is a puzzle
                             in progress; our losses and gains that we piece                              Be honest and
                             together through a lifetime ultimately forms our                             transparent anyway.
                             destiny. We have cognitive choices that influence                            - Mother Teresa
                             that destiny, but as children, for the most part,
                             those choices are made for us. We grieve by                                  In 1969, my father died when
                             proxy through our parents and subjugated by                                  I was only 15 years old. My
                             societal influence to the extent that we may even                            mother’s words of wisdom to
                             marginalize our own pain. You are young; you are     © Mitch Carmody,        me were: dead is dead; buck
                             resilient; kids bounce back.                         Mother Theresa, pencil

                             It is indeed true that countless children have       up and get on with your life; you are the man of
                             survived unimaginable horrors and have grown         the family now; you need to take care of the farm
                             to become a remarkable force in the world. They      and your sisters. I guess it was the chivalrous thing
                             have proved to be highly resilient individuals.      to do…and expected. I tucked my grief away,
                             Resiliency can only be obtained through a state      manned up and took on my new role as the alpha
                             of vulnerability; innocence to the unknown;          of the family. The youngest of seven, my older sibs
                             an innocence that can be transformational; for       were married and out of the house; it was just my
                             better or for worse it’s the risk and worth of       twin sister and my 18-year-old sister at home. I
                             vulnerability; it’s about being all in. It’s about   took on the role of the man of the family; I did not
                             taking emotional risks.                              cry, I did not grieve.

                             2 6 |We Need Not Walk Alone                          In 1984, my twin sister, at age 29, was killed with
                                                                                  her two young sons in an auto accident. It rocked
                                                                                  my family and sibs, but my mother reacted the
                                                                                  same way, “What is done is done son. We have to
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