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Topic: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.  (Read 2920 times)

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My little sister died in May. We were really close and it was traumatic and unexpected. It feels so hard to explain all of it in a forum post, I guess because the hurt is still so big, and I don't like dwelling on her death because it makes it hard to remember her life, you know?  But the story is that she was thirty and beautiful and my very best friend and she died from pre-eclampsia and related complications in her seventh month of pregnancy. She went straight to hospital when she felt unwell, collapsed upon arriving and died twelve hours later, so it was very sudden.  I left as soon as I heard something was wrong, first flight out (she was in Illinois, I'm in Lancashire), but she was brain dead when I arrived. (Awaiting organ donation procedures.)

My niece was born scrawny but healthy via c-section right away, and I am happy to report that despite her sad beginnings, she is thriving. She lives with her dad, and looks like her mom.  I stayed in Chicago over the summer to help foster her, and miss her very, very much now that I'm back. I even went back in October, I missed her so, and also wanted to check on my parents. I'm already stuck in a June visit for family stuff and so I'm in the middle of a big stretch of not visiting. I usually try to go twice a year if we can afford it. (We really can't, but we scrape.)

So, that is the story. I think something like this happening is a huge fear for most expats I know and it was as terrible as you'd expect. I felt and often still feel like I am obligated to move back, even though my heart is English these days. I often get comments from my US people that it must be nice to live so far away from her house and all the reminders of her, as if they never consider how isolated I feel, being denied those places and reminders. I resent them acting as though my life in the UK is a holiday from real life and implying that it's easier than theirs. My (British) in-laws have been great, even buying my husband's flight for the funeral when we couldn't afford it on such short notice, but his brother and family, who live in London, took a literal four months to even bother getting in touch with their condolences. I don't often get mad but I have been stubbornly ignoring them since. It made me feel like I left all the people who meant so much to me for what? A family who can't even text in a matter of life and death? Ugh. Rock, meet hard place!

I just wanted to vent a little to others who understand that life takes you places sometimes that don't make sense to anyone but you. I get so worn down by my unsupportive family and it makes me miss my sister so, so much, because she was the only one who supported my move here, and my marriage, and got really excited for me about all of it.  Actually, she came to see me when she was six months pregnant, just so we could visit before the baby and she was totally determined to celebrate her upcoming college graduation (she got her diploma two weeks before she died) with her first international trip. I'm so glad I got to see her when I did. It was a special time for us anyway but now it's priceless in my head. It's sad, I know, but also kind of comforting in a way that the last photo of us is me with my hand on her bump, because it's the only photo there will ever be of her, my niece and I together.

This is all a big preamble to ask you guys how you've dealt with second guessing your move decision because of grief? Or pressure on it? Am I the only one who feels like a newbie immigrant once again after a death? It feels like I have to learn how to do everything in my life all over again without her, my missing half.  My husband and I are trying to have a baby of our own now, too, and you can imagine how complicated that is anyway, let alone now. I've just been feeling pretty down since the holidays and it helps to talk about it. Thanks for listening while I ramble on, and sorry for any auto corrections.

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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 09:30:55 AM »
I have no advice but I just wanted to send you some support and love. Man, what a tough story to hear let alone live through. I am so so sorry for your loss and the worlds loss of such a young beautiful woman. I can understand your confusion. Lots of hugs and condolences to you and your family.  So sorry.

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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 10:50:07 AM »
After that, it's completely understandable for you to be feeling as you do. Give yourself some time to grieve. ((hugs))
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 04:14:03 PM »
Oh my gosh, how terribly sad. (((hugs))) and good thoughts to you.  
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 04:40:20 PM »
I'm so sorry this happened and I can completely understand why you're second guessing. I've not yet had to deal with grief as an expat, but I would imagine it's a normal thought to have.

I don't think that grief is easy whether you're 1 mile away or thousands of miles away. How you deal with it might be different, but I certainly wouldn't say one would be easier than the other. I don't think you should feel guilty for living far away. It is your life and you need to live it. You cannot live it for other people. That being said, given the situation, I can understand why you'd want to be closer to your family.

I'm so sorry for you and for your family. You have my deepest sympathies.  :\\\'(

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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 12:43:40 PM »
Rowena, I am so sorry for your loss. I moved to the UK in 2007, and in 2008 my dad unexpectedly died, and then in 2012 my mom died, so I totally get where you are coming from.  It was my worst nightmare because the fear of my parents dying was one of the major concepts I struggled with in making the decision to move to the UK in the first place- I even remember asking them "but what if you die while I am over there"?  They both told me, "you come back to the USA to get our affairs in order and then you get back to your life in the UK!"  They both were so excited for me to make the move to the UK and supported me completely, and I think this is the thing that has kept me here in the UK- I know in my heart of hearts they would be sad if I didn't continue to live my own life here which they supported so much.  I am so grateful that they had a chance to visit me here to truly see how happy I am here.  From what you have posted, it sounds like your sister really supported your move and was so excited for you to start your new life in the UK, and what a blessing she also was able to visit you here as well!  I also understand the whole lack of support from folks who you thought would always be there to comfort you if anything bad would happen- we have a vonage phone line so people in the USA can phone us for free, and I didn't receive as many cards or phone calls as I thought I would, which really disappointed me.  It will take time for the pain to become manageable, I still cry all the time like a baby missing my mom and dad, but I know they would want me to live my life as I have created it and so a lot of my journey now is in honor of their lives, trying to do my best and follow my dreams.    I bet your sister would want you to do the same :)  Good luck with everything and lots of hugs!
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2013, 09:34:07 PM »
Massive hugs to you, Rowena...  :(

I literally cried reading your post, as I'm very close to my sisters as well, and i can't imagine losing them so suddenly.

At least you can find solace in the fact that your sister wanted you to be happy, even if it meant being more than 3000  miles away. You have your memories to cherish and her lovely daughter to keep her legacy and memory alive. I am so glad you got to see her one last time...

Sometimes life can be cruel that way... we have such a limited amount of time to live as it is and do so fully. So long as you are "fully" living, and keep your sister in your heart and in your memories, you've done all you can do.

Again, i am so sorry for your loss. Give yourself some time to grieve, with a few good cries, and find solace and support with your husband and through those who remain there for you.

I'll be holding a good thought for you. :)
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 01:59:29 AM »
So very sorry for your loss, Rowena. It is especially hard being away from your own family at this time.

I just wanted to say that sometimes people forget how terribly sad it is to lose a sibling. You have lost part of your shared past and a big piece of your future. I hope you can maintain some ties to your little niece.
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 04:21:48 AM »
Haven't moved yet so i don't really have any advice on dealing with that aspect and I can't even imagine losing a sister, as I am close to both of mine. I just wanted to say I am soo incredibly sorry for your loss and I hope that things look up for you very soon
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Re: Still second guessing myself a lot since my sister died in May.
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2019, 09:39:13 AM »
I know I am very late to replying. I have just found this sub-board, so I apologize.

I, too, lost my younger sister. She was 35.
She passed away in 2014 and it was unexpected and tragic.
Unlike you and your sister, we were not close at the time of her death.
I was already living here in the UK, for one.
9 months after she passed away, our brother did too, also unexpectedly.

I am so sorry for your loss. As I am sure you have learned, it never gets easier. Somehow you just learn to cope.
While it doesn't get easier, I think we get stronger.

But there are always things that pop up to remind you of them. Number plates with their initials. A song on the radio, film on TV...
I tell myself that they are there, sending me love.

I hope you are doing okay. Please feel free to reach out to me. It helps having someone understand.

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