so my friend's brother died. (really really long)

here i am, off in my sequestered educational bliss of freshman year of college, 800 miles from my friends and family, tra la la. then yesterday i get an instant message telling me that my friend christine’s little brother, john, died late sunday night/early monday morning.

he had drug problems. like serious ones. and i never really knew the nature of it because she never wanted to talk about it and i didnt want to press when she had so much shit going on in her life already. i just knew that it was way more than the occasional friday night joint. but now he’s dead. he had an infection and a fever and went into cardiac arrest. he was ajunior in high school, my sister’s age. my little sister is such a huge part of my life. i can’t even imagine if she was gone… i can’t imagine it.

so here i am in illinois, and the funeral is in new york on friday. i wanted to be there. i wanted to be there for her. but, being a college freshman with about 75 dollars in my bank account, i can’t get there on my own. so i call up my mother last night and tell her i want to go to the funeral. and i know that it might not be able to work and if it can it’s gonna be a huge thing. but i wanted to go. she said she’d think about it and get back to me.

that was last night, and just about half an hour ago my dad called me and we talked about it. he said that it was up to me, that if i felt that i really really needed to be there, i could go and we’d figure it out. but he also said that because it was so last minute it would probably cost 6 or 7 hundred dollars. my family can’t afford that. they couldn’t afford it before, and now with my tuition and my sister’s high school tuition, they’re basically digging themselves into debt for us. i feel like i need to be there, but i said no. because i couldnt make them pay that much money, and i can’t contribute because all of the money i made working this summer went to my own self-sufficiency and towards my tuition. i’m getting a work-study job but it hasn’t started yet. so i’m broke. there’s no way for me to get out there.

christine was barely keeping it all together before this. her parents are going through a horrible divorce that’s been going on since new years, when her mother found out her father was cheating on her. he’s currently trying to screw her out of all of her money. he’s a private detective and has been hiding over a million dollars from the rest of the family that was definitely never going to go towards his kids. as if that wasn’t enough, he was trying to prove her mother legally insane and unfit to raise christine and john, and trying to take away their house. then christine’s mother got cancer. she’s a teacher at a private high school. she makes nothing.

and now john is dead. and there were so many times we’d just leave school during a free and go out and get bagels and she would just tell me everything that was going on in her life and i would just listen to her and try to help her and be there for her. but i talked to her on the phone last night. and she’s horrible. and there’s nothing i can do. and even though i wouldnt be able to do much more there than i can here, i could physically be there. i could see her, and hug her. and all she could say was ‘i dont know what to do, he was my baby, he was my baby brother.’ and we just cried.

i didnt really know john. but like someone said to me last night, you sometimes just grieve more for the people they leave behind. i dont know how christine and her mother are going to get through this. i just hope that it brings them closer together.

i’ve been at college for 3 weeks, and i was crying before and this girl across the hall who is a new friend of mine, she just came up to me and hugged me and said how weird it was for her to see me so upset, because i am generally such a strong person. which is true. i am usually the one doing all the helping, the one solving all the problems, the one taking control of problems, the one everyone else goes to. the one who takes everything in stride no matter how bad. but i couldn’t believe that she said that to me after knowing me for 3 weeks. i mean it’s not like we’ve had anything crazy happen here, it’s just sort of been hanging out and whatever.

but after i got off the phone with my dad i called up one of my other friends from home and just started crying because i feel like shit. i feel like if it was my brother or my sister, that i wouldn’t ever expect anyone else to come from this far in a million years, but if they did it would mean so much to me. and i know that the fact that i tried is a lot. but at the same time i feel like if it were my best friend, and not just a very close one, i’d be going. so why am i staying? because i put a price on it. how is that fair? and my friend was just talking to me and trying to make me see that i shouldnt feel as bad about this as i do, and that was huge for me because i am always the one doing that for other people, especially the friend i called up.

so my dad basically said to me, you know, we’re going to send some flowers to her in your name, and you’ll still get to see her when you come back for thanksgiving in six weeks, how does that sound? and i just told him, it sounded crappy, but what could i do. not much else. so i guess i’m just posting this because i need to vent everything out a little more. i just need to put it out there.

Oh…sweetie…I am so, so very sorry for you and your friend.

I am sure Christine understands why you can’t be there and doesn’t hold it against you in any way.

Just keep in touch with her via phone/email, etc. and try to be the great friend that you are and let her know you are thinking of her.

Plan something special for the 2 of you when you are both home and spend some time together then. Thanksgiving is a little over a month away so I’m sure she will still be grieving and need your support then too.

I know you feel like there is nothing you can do and in some ways, you are right…but being her friend and letting her know you are there for her as much as you can be will mean a lot to her.

I hope her family situation gets better. Her dad sounds like a jerk.

Again, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this and feel like you are all alone at school.

I’m thinking about you and your friend.

:frowning: Aries

I understand what you are going through, and I know that it’s very hard to not be there for someone that you truly care about when something like this happens.

My advice is , even though you can’t be there physically, be there for her emotionally and spiritaully. Let her know that if she needs to talk and just get it out, that you’ll always be here to listen. Sometimes having someone just listening to you ramble on and on and get it all out, is the best thing they can do. Just listen.

When you go home for Thanksgiving, make it a point to spend some time with her. Let her know that you did all you could to be there at the time, but that you are here now. She will understand.

My sympathies to you and to her family for their terrible loss.

Look at it this way: when people lose a loved one, what often happens is friends often stop being there for those who are grieving far sooner than is really helpful. Sure, there will be people at the funeral on Friday supporting Christine and her family, but will they all be there for her in six weeks? Maybe not. She’ll need you more then than now.

thanks you guys…yeah i just got off the phone with her. and she sounded okay, but she’s just trying to hold it together at this point. and now theres hostility in the family about funeral arrangements and pall bearers because something i didnt mention before…john moved in with their dad last may. he wanted to live with him because he could get away with a lot more than if he was living with their mom. she still taught at his high school though. but john told him that he was feeling sick and he blew it off and i dont really know what exactly happened to cause it but it was an infection that killed him. so everyone is pissed at him and christine hasnt even seen him. and she understands why i cant go, and she knows that i want to be there, and that i’m going to be there for her even if i cant be in new york. i just wish i could go.

I’m sorry for your friend’s loss and your inability to go to the funeral. However, in all honesty, it’s probably more important that you be there for her later. Funerals bring people in droves and, while they are certainly stressful, they tend to go by in a blur for the bereaved.

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, a lot of people will have dropped back in their support—it’s unavoidable. Life does go on. But it will be a hard time for your friend, with the emphasis on family and it being the first holiday without her brother, and your support to her then will be very valuable.

I’m sorry that this happened. :frowning: I definitely agree with the advice to take the time to listen to her as time goes on and life is supposedly “back to normal”. I’d also add that she may need your support on anniversaries like his birthday or the anniversary of the death…such milestones tend to bring back painful memories.
As for the problem with their dad, that really is a shame…I’m sure the dad didn’t realize how serious things were and never wanted it to end like this. However, anger is a normal part of the grieving process.

If you do feel like you need to be there, don’t discount Amtrak or Greyhound (They are usually the same price, and Amtrak is much nicer). The ride will take a full night and a full day, but you’ll get there. It shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks- potentially much cheaper.

Prices vary wildly from train to train, so do your research. If you call them, they might even be able to give you something cheaper than your find on their website. And you might get really lucky and snag something dirt cheap from them on ebay (Amtrak actions off some of their tickets and it is very cheap). Also check out ride exchange boards- you might be able to get there for half the price of gas. I don’t know how close you are to Chicago, but they probably have a section on www.craigslist.com, and you could post an ad saying you were seeking a ride.

My deepest condolences to you, your friend and her family, aaaaaarrgg.

Just so you are aware, though, your folks are incorrect about flights being $600-700. I found a TON of flights on Travelocity starting at $225 (Chicago to Newark) from Thursday through Sunday on Northwest Airlines. For instance, there’s this itinerary…

**Outbound Flight **

Thu, Oct 09
10:31am Depart - Chicago-Midway, IL (MDW)
Northwest Airlines 1818

12:41pm Arrive - Detroit, MI (DTW) Nonstop
Flight time: 1 hr 10 min

Connection Time: 1 hr 1 min

Thu, Oct 09
1:42pm Depart - Detroit, MI (DTW)
Northwest Airlines 1832

3:17pm Arrive - Newark, NJ (EWR) Nonstop
Flight time: 1 hr 35 min

Total Travel Time: 3 hrs 46 min

**Return Flight **

Sun, Oct 12
12:35pm Depart - Newark, NJ (EWR)
Northwest Airlines 697

2:21pm Arrive - Detroit, MI (DTW) Nonstop
Flight time: 1 hr 46 min

Connection Time: 2 hrs 52 min

Sun, Oct 12
5:13pm Depart - Detroit, MI (DTW)
Northwest Airlines 1585

5:16pm Arrive - Chicago-Midway, IL (MDW) Nonstop
Flight time: 1 hr 3 min

Total Travel Time: 5 hrs 41 min

**Price Summary **

Travelers Base Price: 1 adult 170.23
Taxes & Fees 49.77
Total Price 220.00
Service Fee 5.00
Total: USD 225.00

And that’s just one of 6 different itineraries that’ll get you there for that price. Or, you can also fly into NY Laguardia starting as low as $264.00 (which may actually be a better deal since you wouldn’t have to pay cab fare into the city).

If you think that’ll help sway your folks into loaning you the money to go, just do a search at www.travelocity.com

Good luck and I hope you can make it. But even if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up over it. Your friend will know you meant well and will appreciate any show of support and friendship even from hundreds of miles away.

I don’t have any wonderful words of comfort to offer. The best I can do is to offer hugs, prayers, thoughts and moral support.

{{{aaaaaarrgg and Christine }}}

Kathy & Ric (Rico)

I don’t want to give you a guilt trip at all, because I’m sure your friend will understand your situation. On the other hand, if it were me I’d do anything I had to do to get there to be with my friend. Professors understand things like this, take a few days off and fly out to be with your friend. In the long run good friends are more imporant than many things, including missing a few lectures.

Hope it works out. You and your friend are in my thoughts.

thanks for the flight info shayna. i went on travelocity and i found all of these flights so i called up my mother and told her.

she wont let me go. she can’t understand that i need to be there for my own peace of mind as well as (and far far far more importantly) to be there for christine.

i feel like you, venus. i think thats why i feel so horrible right now, because i am always the one who jumps through hoops to help my friends. but now there’s just no way. i’m stuck here.

and i know i shouldnt feel bad but ive been crying all day because i want to be there for christine and i just cant. i cant. and i know that it’ll be more important down the road that i’m there for here after it all sinks in and the flowers stop coming. but i can’t stop crying.

thank you so much everyone for helping. venus you have no idea how much i agree with you. but my mother cant see that side. she thinks its more important for me to be here sitting in class and doing my work. there’s no way to make her understand.

Here’s the thing - she’s grieving, and you’re grieving too. My little sister died several years ago, during my first year of grad school. She was two years younger than me, the same as you and your sister, and your friend and her brother. It was the worst thing that ever happened in my life.

You need to give yourself permission, or space, or whatever, to deal with your feelings. Even just supporting your friend is a lot to take on, and you’re not superman. Even if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your friend so that you can be there for her. Talk with your new friends at school about how you are feeling.

Now for practical stuff: do something every day for your friend. Every day is important. Send an e-card. Send e-flowers. Send a copy of a poem you had to read in class that you liked. Be ready to talk about her brother, bring up how she’s feeling, but be ready not to talk about it as well. Tell her how much you’re looking forward to seeing her at Thanksgiving, because it’s true.

In a week or two, encourage her to talk to a professional. It sounds like there are some serious issues in that family, and talking to a counselor for a while, even a little while, could help. If money is a problem, post a question about it on the boards and we’ll chime in with practical suggestions on how to find low-cost short-term help.

If you need help, get some. You’re at a good college and I know they have student services. Times like this are what those services are for.

Time will help. Getting through the time sucks really hard, but time keeps going anyway.