The Year Without My Brother

Erik after a long afternoon skateboarding

Photo by Kristina Braly

Writing has always come naturally to me. But today, I found myself dragging my feet when it came to this post. I knew I wanted to write something on PSS about the anniversary of my brother’s death–because part of the reason why I love blogging so much is the shared human experience. Just as I experience ups and downs about my self-image and fashion sense (and sometimes lack thereof), I also experience pain, grief, and loss. None the more poignant or heartbreaking than the loss of my 20 year old brother, Erik, on October 6, 2009.

Erik and his big sis Kristina (aka PSS) goofing off in Norway

As a baby, Erik was permanently attached to my hip. Just five years his senior, I took on the role of Second Mommy with ease. He was a towheaded child with gold-rimmed glasses, luminously large olive-green eyes, and an impish grin. He was mischevious, and sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that he grew a tough outer shell in his adolescent years–a shell molded by years of torment by teachers and classmates for his learning disabilities (namely, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD) and a crippling stutter.

He was precious.

I saw through the chain necklaces, baggy jeans, and predilection for heavy metal music–for he was much like an M&M to me. Tough candy shell, but thin, and surrounding a sweet chocolate center.

That was my Erik.

Erik and I skiing in Norway

As the years turned darker and more difficult for Erik, he was found to have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder was formerly called “Manic Depressive” disorder, and there are two types. Type I is more common and associated with the shifts in manic behavior (much like somebody who is on a “high”, doesn’t sleep for days, earning the “fast and loose” stereotype) which alternates with depressive episodes.

Erik was Type II, a rarer type that was characterized by nearly constant, refractory depression, punctuated by brief episodes of hypomania, which is a much milder form of mania (wherein people become functional enough, motivated enough to do the things they want to do–aka the “Super Producers”–Ted Turner is a known hypomanic). It is notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to treat. Unfortunately, these are the people most at risk of successfully (though I cringe at that word in this context) committing suicide–they get just enough motivation and determination to actually go through with it.

Erik loved Norway & sledding

My mother, who is a physician, worked tirelessly to help Erik. Everything from coaching, tutoring, homeschooling, counseling, therapy, psychiatric appointments–anything a mother could do to protect her baby boy, my mother did. I too was particularly protective of my baby brother. I’ll never forget being at a birthday party at a “Discovery Zone” and coming across my brother being pelted with those multicolored plastic balls from the ball pit, right in the face, as his bully laughed and taunted him. Little to our knowledge, back then Erik could barely see, and couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old, unable to see or flee from his tormentor. In my ten year old pint-sized glory, I didn’t hesitate.

I marched up to this boy much older than me, growled in a furious rage, “Don’t you mess with my little brother!” and punched him squarely in the face. He ran off crying to his mommy. That was the first and last time I have ever punched a human being. I remember being surprised at how much my hand hurt afterward.

Erik lost his battle to depression and bipolar disorder on October 6, 2009. I had just returned home from Target, when I got the most horrifying, life-altering, earth-shattering phone call of my life.

I will never forget my mother’s words.

Sobbing, hysterical, she screamed, “Erik is dead! He’s dead, oh my God, I want my BABY!…”

He had shot himself in the head with a gun nobody knew he possessed. Guns were not allowed in the home since his diagnosis nearly a decade before.

The drive to my parents’ house was a blur of tears, pain, and denial (No, it can’t be, my baby brother, no…). I’m honestly not even sure how I got there in one piece.

All the death, gloom, and sadness that filled my life in the months that followed prompted me–perhaps in some strange way of escapism–to start a blog called Pretty Shiny Sparkly about all the happy things girls love. I wanted to fill it with all of the things that made me happy. And this is what it has become. So in a way I have Erik to thank for this wonderful journey so far.

But I’m sure you will understand that I would give it all back in a heartbeat to have just one more minute with my baby brother. Just one minute. 60 seconds. Just long enough to tell him that I loved him, just like I had the urge to do via text message, sitting in my office studying (a medical school lecture on suicide–the ironies of this world never cease) mere hours before he died. My phone was in the other room, and I never sent the message. My single biggest regret of my entire life.

My mother also healed with blogging. She started a blog, Channeling Erik, in which she tests the boundaries of her faith, and spirituality, and has connected with Erik in the spiritual plane–whether you’re a believer or not, it’s truly an amazing experience, and I suggest you start from the beginning.

So bear with me today; I fear I will be unable to avoid replaying the events of exactly one year ago today in my mind, over, and over.

I was the one who wrote my brother’s obituary. I remember kissing his nose when he was born, and I kissed his nose when he was gone.

Feel free to tumble this image and link it to channelingerik.com

Kristina’s Eulogy

My sweet little brother. I love you so much. I will miss you forever and always. I wonder what Thanksgiving and Christmas will be like without you. I cry just thinking how you will not be a groomsman at my wedding one day. I am sad because I feel in this world you did not fully comprehend how much you were loved. But I think now, in Heaven, you do. Now you are free. I never thought I would be writing your obituary, or speaking at your memorial service. You were supposed to be doing that for me one day. I used to carry you around on my hip, just 5 or 6 years old at the time, when you were just a toddler. I beat up the bullies for you, but I guess I couldn’t protect you from everything. I know I will never get over the loss of you, my little brother. But I hope the memories that now make me sad will one day make me smile in fond, loving memory of you.

Poem: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

  • Rochelle

    I'm sending your way all of the peaceful, loving thoughts I can muster. My heart breaks for your loss.

  • http://www.thestayathomediva.com Bexy

    I am so sorry for your loss and I can not begin to imagine the pain you have gone through. You are in my thoughts today…

  • http://fromskirtstoskillets.blogspot.com/ Lynzy

    Kristina,

    I am so sorry for your loss and you expressed yourself so well through writing, I almost feel as if I am going through this experience with you. My heart goes out to you and your family today. <3

    xo Lynzy

  • http://www.gritandglamour.com Grit and Glamour

    Oh, my, Kristina, I am literally weeping as I type this. First, I am so sorry for your loss…I cannot fathom what you and your family have gone through this last year. But what a poignant and beautifully-written remembrance this post is. I never knew that your blog was started after your brother's death. I know you'd trade it all for that minute you wrote about, but look what PSS has become…incredible.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us, as painful as it must have been to write it. What

    a woman you are.

    ♥ V
    http://www.gritandglamour.com
    twitter: @gritandglamour

  • http://www.tanvii.com Tanvi

    This is such a touching post, Kristina. I hope your brother rests in peace and your family continues to find strength to deal with this loss. You are such a positive person. Lots of love and peace, T

  • http://crewzn.blogspot.com Liz

    Thank you for sharing this with us! I can't imagine losing a sibling… especially younger and who had been through as much as he had. I actually lost one of my best friends from high school on October 6, 2002. So this meant a lot to me… reading this today.

  • http://sparkycorner.wordpress.com Sara

    This is a beautiful tribute to Erik. I didn't know there was so much going on with him prior to his death …. He will continue to live in our hearts forever, he was such a beautiful person, and you are even more beautiful, having survived all of this and still being the remarkable woman you are!!

    I hope your family is doing well on this heavy day for all of us.

  • HB

    We all miss u Erik!

  • http://ciupabiksemad.blogspot.com/ Alessandra (ciupa)

    Kristina, this post is heart breaking and opening at the same time. You are so very brave. A huge hug to you from way over here.

  • http://hannahbellehurd.blogspot.com Hannah

    Kristina…

    my Mother passed away five years ago today… I share your grief. I'm one of eight kids, the oldest girl (i.e, mother hen #2), and I was 14. the youngest of my siblings was six months old. while I know there are different challenges and difficulties with both our losses, I feel somewhat comforted that there's one person out there suffering with me today. noone can fully comprehend a loss as great as ours… as much as they might try, noone can ever know.

    I love you, and I love this blog.

    "hope in God, your faith retrieving… He will still your refuge be."

  • http://curlyinthecity-tek.blogspot.com/ Taylor

    I rarely comment but I couldn't help myself today!

    WOW! I am am truly touched by the grace and poise you wrote above. You are truly the sister I hope I am to my younger brother. I would give my life just so he could see another day – he is my everything.

    Thank you for sharing this hardest of moments with all of us!

    Be strong and life your life for the two of you!

    xoxo-T

  • http://theaccessoriesjunkie.com Arlyn

    Kristina darling. I'm so very very very very sorry. I understand your grief, as my eldest brother (who had different disabilities of his own) passed away when I was 17, and he was 24. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. The most intense pain I have ever felt. That was 8 years ago, and it's still hard to face, but we all have found peace, and often talk fondly and happily about my brother Daniel, because I know that's how he would have liked it. We laugh and tell stories, and we feel closer to him each time we do.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, and be strong darling. Stay pretty. Stay shiny. Stay sparkly.

  • http://stillblondeafteralltheseyears.com Still blonde after a

    Wow! There isn't anything else.. just WOW! I pray for you and your family today!

  • http://www.pinkdivacafe.com Noel

    I understand the depths of bipolar disorder and I am so amazed by your strength. I am sorry for your pain.

    Noel

  • http://www.everyoneloveslipstick.com Angela Deaton

    Oh my gosh Kristina, I am literally sitting at my computer crying. Just following your blog for a mere couple of months, I could have never guessed that you had just been through something like this. My heart and prayers go out to you as this first year has gone by. You blog is truly a blessing.

    XX

  • Charlene Kuser

    Kristina.I read your story with tears in my eyes.Your family has an

    abundance of love for each other.This was a great tribute to your brother and I feel his spirit is with you.I too have depression and I

    know what a dark place it can be.It is hard to carry around and sometimes all the love and support is not enough.God bless you

    doing this difficult time.

  • http://www.twitter.com/andreagmz48 Andrea

    Kristina, I have been following your blog and activities for some time now. I am Houston based as well and I couldn't have been more overjoyed the day I found your blog. Knowing someone in this big city had a small town feel and a fashion furry. This is my first comment, and officially not my last, but I do send courage and strong faith your way. I know how hard death can be and I look up to you in so many ways for all you have done and accomplished this year. Be strong today, I know it's rough, but you are more than capable of turning this day into something great. Your readers are truly touched by your post, I will be thinking about you and your family all day, wishing you all the very best.

  • http://www.aprettypennyblog.com Keira

    Dear Kristina,

    How powerful for you to share this story with all of us. I'm crying myself as I type this, so I can't even imagine how difficult this day must be for you. Sending you lots of love, peace, and comfort today.

    It's also pretty amazing that out of such sorrow, you found this great outlet, which is growing by leaps and bounds!

  • http://smalltimestyle.blogspot.com Lauren

    Don't really have words to express my sorrow for your loss. Please know that my prayers are with you and your family.

  • http://www.eatsleepwear.com eat.sleep.wear

    you are so strong and I really love that every day, when you make a post, you are doing it with all the love and energy you have and what your brother would have wanted for you.

    I wish you a great day of reflection of all the great memories you had together with him and your family sweet girl.

    xo, kim http://www.eatsleepwear.com

  • http://itsaboutthelook.blogspot.com Sara

    I'm wiping a few tears away as I write this, but I so admire your strength and spirit. I have had depression touch and affect my life as well, and I understand the sheer range of emotions that accompany it, both for the sufferer and their friends and family. Its a terrible, frustrating condition, particularly when concerning a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder.

    You, your brother, and your family are in my thoughts today, and I'm sending you the warmest and fuzziest (and sparkliest!) of good thoughts and karma your way! Before I started blogging, I couldn't have imagined the kind of human impact that it can have on others. But such positive things have come out of this blog for you! For that I am very happy.

    Love and hugs for you and your family!

    Sara

  • Allison

    Prayers for you and your family today and always…

  • http://www.blakery.com Blake

    Kristina, I admire your strength and know what it must have taken to write this so beautifully. I'm thinking of you today. Hugs.

  • http://gmail.com KT

    OMG.. u made me cry!!

    so sorry for ur loss..its shattering. I have a younger brother, 5 yrs younger and my bf.. can never imagine soemthing like this happen to him. May god give u and ur family the strength to live happy.

  • Martha Chavez

    Kristina,

    You're pretty much one of the most amazing people I've ever come across. I always knew you were special when I started reading your blog, but you just solidified my thoughts.

    Your strength and spirit are so inspiring. They make me want to be a better person.

    I know no words can make this any easier, but just know you have many people thinking about you. Your brother was very lucky to have a sister like you. I know he must be watching out for you now, and I'm sure he's so proud of you!

  • http://ginger-chocolateandhoney.blogspot.com/ lamia

    I'm speecheless. you are a very brave family and I admire your strenght. All my prayers are for you!!

    lamia

  • Mamavalveeta03

    Kristina: As the tears run down my face, for all of the young people I have known that have ended their lives and for your beautiful brother, EriK….I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

  • http://howfickleiswoman.blogspot.com Rach @ How Fickle Is

    This post brought tears to my eyes. What a gorgeous remembrance of your brother. Your strength and love are such an inspiration! Thinking of you both today.

    xo

    Rachel

  • Lara Crook

    Your post sent tears rolling down my face.

    I also lost my brother almost 4 years ago to a rare neurological virus that took him from us. He was truly a light and while he was my older brother, I felt as protective as you did. I lost my best friend the day he died and miss him more than words can express. It is comforting to read that I am not alone. Sending you love and strength.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.f.burke Robert

    Kristina,

    Erik couldn't have asked for a more wonderful big sister. The M&M analogy is sheer perfection…this post…a moving tribute!

    All my love to you and your family.

    Robert

  • Rachael

    This was incredibly moving. I'm terribly sorry for your loss, the relationship between brother and sister is indescribably strong and I feel your pain.

    I am glad that you were able to find a positive vent and a way to look positively at life after such a tragic event.

    Thank you for sharing this…it is truly inspiring.

    http://www.rachaeldiab.blogspot.com

  • http://www.littlegirlbigworld.com Ashleigh

    Oh Kristina, I just had a big cry reading this and said a little prayer for your family today. I completely understand the protective big sister role and my heart aches for the hole in your soul. *Sending virtual hugs*
    -Ashleigh

  • http://lifeloveandpuppyprints.blogspot.com Carolyn @ life, love & puppy prints

    Such a heartfelt post! I can’t imagine! :( My thoughts are with you!!

  • http://ambersnotebook.com Amber's noteboo

    I'm so sorry for your loss Krsitina. What a beautiful post in honor of him. You will be in my thoughts today.

  • http://www.modlychic.com Katy

    Kristina – I can only imagine how hard (and therapeutic) it must have been for you to write this post. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you go through this difficult anniversary time. I love the poem you posted – it perfectly encapsulates what our loved ones must want to say to us in this moment. – Katy

  • http://www.sequinissues.blogspot.com Kayla

    I'm so sorry for your loss. It's always amazed me how the moments we feel the weakest, seem to be the springboard into strength. Your blog is adorable, and it means even more to know the story behind it. Thanks for sharing such a personal moment with us.

  • Amber L

    What a loving tribute to your brother and a testament to how much he is loved. God bless you and your family!

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  • http://prudentstylebyally.blogspot.com Ally S.

    I want to say first that I'm so sorry for your loss, and can't imagine what you've been feeling, and going through today. I know this past year has had its' ups and downs, but everyday that passes you grow stronger. This was such a heartfelt post, and his sounded like a good person. Your brother would be so proud of you, just like me and the rest of your readers! We all love you!!

  • Alfredo

    Dearest Kristina:

    Taken from "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts, about the loss oh his dearest friend:

    "At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we wont stop loving them, even after they are dead and gone. For I still love you with the whole of my hearth, Prabaker. I still love you. And sometime, my friend, the love that I have, and can't give to you, crushes the breathfrom my chest. Sometimes, even now, my heart is drowning in a sorrow that has no stars without you, and no laghter, and no sleep."

    I really, really understand your pain Kristine. I lost someone dear to me too. He was my son. I hope you understand why I sentyou this.

    Thank you for sharing your feeling!

  • http://www.morganandlua.blogspot.com Morgan_Lua

    Kristina, I am so touched and moved by this post. I am sorry that you and your family had to go through so much pain, but I am glad to hear that you are finding the positive side of life. The love you still feel for your brother is undeniable and hopefully that love will bring you some comfort today.

    Sending you and your family warm thoughts today.

  • http://www.channelingerik.com Elisa

    My sweet little Kristina, this is so beautiful. I felt every sentence int the very pit of my heart. I love you and am so glad you shared the day with us.

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  • http://bookwormtobombshell.blogspot.com Kate

    What a wonderful tribute. I can't imagine what this last year has been like for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you today.

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  • michelle

    Sending loving thoughts your way xxxx

  • http://www.luxedelux.blogspot.com tiara

    I'm so sorry for your loss… as hard as this must have been for you to write, thank you so much for sharing this post. I'm glad that you and your mom (who has an equally touching post and blog) have been able to channel your sadness into a happy and creative source of light. I'm sure that Erik is smiling and proud of you both

  • Nancy Antia

    My heart goes out to you. I prefer silence than words (I'm also grieving) but I will say something anyway. This is what I chose for you:

    "My faith is brightest in the midst of impenetrable darkness"

    M. Ghandi
    http://www.myspace.com/mentalhealth518 (the photo's here in case you wish to look at it).

    Many blessings,

    Nancy

  • http://dedicated-follower.com Kelsi

    I love you lady.

    So many things to say that a comment will not suffice. I'm going to call Friday.

    Miss you.

    Kxx

  • http://www.jrose-studio.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    I'm so sorry for your loss. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your brother!

  • Julie

    Your writing and expression and your love could not be more clear if you tried. I am so sorry for your loss Kristina. I lost my son March 27 th of this year. Reading your post really makes me wonder what my other three children are thinking they do not seem to talk about Jake, perhaps that all comes in time. Maybe at some point I will be able to share your writing with them. Jake and Erik were alike in so many ways~

    I hope your love of him helps you to get through each day.

    Julie

  • http://likeunexpectedsunshine.blogspot.com Hope

    Kristina,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I have and older brother, and I couldn't imagine my life without him. I hope you're doing okay, and you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers this week.

  • http://www.bonbonrosegirls.com Kristin

    I don't think there are any right words when it comes to a loss as devastating as this. I am so so sorry. I'm sure your little brother is at peace and smiling down on his big sis right now!

  • http://www.mommymoxie.wordpress.com Nicole at Mommy Moxi

    Kristina, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my cousin the same way-bipolar disorder sucks! It affects other members in my family as well, and reading your post really made me think about what I take for granted and how I need to convey my love more often. Your tribute to Erik is beautiful and I pray you continue to heal and grow with his memory guiding your way.

  • http://www.districtofchic.com districtofchic

    Oh my God. This is such a touching post. And so poignant with the rash of tragedies as the result of bullying in recent months. I can't even imagine losing a sibling, or a child. I really admire you and your mother for channeling your grief into such creative projects.

  • http://stylewithbenefits.com Style with Benefits

    Hi Kristina, I've been meaning to send you a note about how fabulous it was to meet you at Blogger's Cafe. I'm sure your brother is watching over you like an angel and is so proud of everything you're accomplishing. This is such a beautiful post and tribute to him. Thanks so much for sharing; we are all thinking of you!

    xx, becs

  • http://www.alexisrichard.blogspot.com Alexis Renee

    Kristin, I feel your pain… When I was small, I adored my older cousin, who went through a lot of depression. When she was leaving for college, I was about two or three. My family says I can't remember this, but I remember telling her to drive safe and to be really careful because it was hard to drive in the snow. On the way to her college in Denver Colorado, she flipped her two-door truck and was killed.

    The losses never get any easier, no matter when you lose the person you love, or how long it's been… It's been roughly 16 years for me, and I still cry about it. But it was very touching to hear about your experience. I wish more people were so understanding about emotional disorders… I hope you and your mother receive as much love and support as your brother did from you. Best wishes dear.

  • Natalie

    Such a beautiful woman, inside and out. Though your words were written so eloquently I could not begin to understand this tragedy. Stay strong.

  • http://www.beautifully-invisible.com/ Beautifully Invisibl

    Oh my gosh, Kristina, this is one of the most heart-breaking things I have ever read. As others have said, I am literally typing through tears, and I hope that this comment – this very late comment – doesn't bring you any additional sadness as the anniversary of Erik's death has now passed. I weep because I understand the love you shared with your brother, as I have a little brother who is autistic, and we are bonded like few siblings are. I sense that you had a very similar bond with your own Erik, and i can't imagine what losing him must have been like for you and your family. I am grateful that his loss led to the creation of this blog, and to this post in particular. He lives on in your every word and, I have no doubt, watches over you, full of understanding of the love you hold for him. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  • http://www.baileyblogs.tumblr.com Kristin

    Kristina,

    I am a new follower of yours as well as new to blogging.. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know that although everyday is difficult the anniversary is always the worst. My older brother past away several years ago due to heart and lung failure from chemo and cancer he had when he was just a toddler. He died on his birthday just the day after my birthday. My other brother has always suffered from addictions and depression and was just diagnosed as schitzophrenic and hearing your story of getting that phone calls is my worst fear right now with him. I pray that God continues to watch over you and your family. Please know that you are not alone, and I know that your brother and mine are through with all of their pain here on earth, and that is the one comfort we can hold on to. Thank you for sharing your brother Erik's story.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Kristina

      Kristin,

      Your comment warms my soul in so many ways. I cannot imagine the pain and

      suffering your brother and your family must have gone through, but I do

      understand your grief. If there's one thing I wished I would have done

      differently if my brother were still alive, I would have told him I loved

      him every day, even if it annoyed him. :) Cherish the moments you have –

      nothing in life is certain but the present. Thank you again for your

      heartfelt message.

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  • Sarah

    Dear Kristina,

    Your story echos mine comletly and has helped me realise that we are not alone. My brother also lost the same sort of fight last January. It is gut rentching, that moment, that phone call that you live over a thousand times and wish there was some kind of take back. I remember the call, I don't remeber the journey to the hospital, but I do remeber how it felt (so wrong). I know your wish to have just 1 more minute, it is an eteranl wish, for that what can not be, the one that makes you plan that perfect speach in which you hope they realise how much you love them and how much they will leave behind them. The forever wish that you hope they knew. Our brothers were to gentle for this world and it is our job as their big sisters to try our best, take care of our parents and live our lives with compasion for others, with that secret understanding of how precious life can be.

    Thank you for your blog,

    Sarah

  • Pam

    Kristina,

    I've just recently found you and thank you for your blog. Please accept my condolences and deepest sympathy on the loss of your brother, Erik.

    Pam

  • http://miraclesdontbreakthelawsofnature.blogspot.com/ Beka

    this just breaks my heart.

    i have two brothers, one on either side of me.

    i'm so sorry dear.

    gosh, this made me cry…

  • http://danielleceleste.wordpress.com DANIELLE Grigsby

    Nothing can replace a prince. I know how you feel because my little brother although he is estranged frm me and my family is present with me everyday in my thought and prayrs. Nothing will replace a prince.

  • http://electricelmo.blogspot.com Lacy

    This is such a lovely tribute to your brother. I'm so sorry that you and your family had to survive something like this. You must be so very, very strong. Tears are pouring down my face as I especially think of a mother having to say goodbye to her son. I know with all my heart that your family will be whole again, both here on earth and when this life is over. All my love to you and your family.

  • http://thehouseintheclouds.com Fabienne Jach

    I should have known to save reading this post for when I'm not at work. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's interesting to me how blogging has been used as an outlet for different things. My baby sis was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago and now has a clean bill of health. I've been planning on writing about her on the year anniversary, I could relate to the shock you described. I was at work, minutes before my last meeting of the day.

    While she eventually recovered, it was very difficult on me while she endured her treatment. I couldn't sleep any more, I was so angry that she was suffering. I had to be strong for her but I didn't feel very strong at all. And every day, I would get on my blog and channel every good about my life to keep that positivity moving. Your story is very touching. I'm officially sold on following you, those ways we connect with others are some of the most interesting parts of blogging for me.

    xo, f

    The House in the Clouds

  • http://ladykchronicles.blogspot.com Kari.

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your brother. So very very sorry.

  • http://flysongbird.blogspot.com debi

    i am sorry if my comment on this post makes you go back to some sad memories after so long..but my eyes are blurry after reading this.my sister who is 6 yrs older than me is autistic and i fear the day i will have her no more with me.the bond i share with her is special since she is like no other.i have no words of condolence for you because no words would be enough for me in a similar time.wish you well from the bottom of my heart.

  • Blake

    I just came across your blog yesterday and started reading everything. It's so many of the same things I love as well and this blog really hit close to home. Yesterday marked 6 months since the passing of my 20 year old brother and there are no words to describe that feeling of losing a baby brother. Your post made me cry, but it also gave me a sense of hope that things get easier with time. <3

  • http://the-budgetista.com Elizabeth Hannum

    You are so brave for writing about something so personal and sharing it with the world. I have lived through a similar experience and my heart hurts to read the ending of your story. I truly believe that in dark times there will be light and I think it is wonderful that you and your mother have been able to channel your loss into positive outlets. Keep shining; you are an inspiration!

    Elizabeth

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  • http://www.godsfavoriteshoes.com Reiko (GFS)

    I know this post is super old but I wanted to say that this post was a beautiful tribute. And I love that you as a blogger, let people see that it’s not all about the newest shoe or bracelet. It’s hard juggling real life and blog life but sometimes the worlds have to collide.

    God bless you and your angel brother:)

  • http://franniepantz.blogspot.com Robin @ Frannie Pantz

    A happy birthday to Erik today. I am so sorry for your loss. I really have no words other than I hope your strength endures to give you a positive outlook everyday. The ones we love are never gone forever. Much love to you and your family at this time.

  • http://outfit31.com Res @ Outfit31

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Life is just so short sometimes. Too short. My prayers are with you…

  • http://wendybrandes.com/blog/ WendyB

    Such a moving post. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://glamslamblog.com Stephanie

    Oh Kristina,
    I am so sorry for your loss! I do not know what I’d do, what I’d feel or think or how I would comprehend loosing my brother; I’m a big sister too. I do know about the pain you experience; I lost my step-mother to pancreatic cancer July of last year and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced so far in my 29 years on this earth so far.

    You and your family are in my prayers and I send you love. Someday your “wounds” will heal. Like you, I have found that writing does help me through tough things in my life as well and I had no idea there was such a personal story behind how you started your blog; your words you wrote above brought a tear to my eye.

    You are a true inspiration to me, a new blogger, and keep it up! :)

    Love to you,

    Stephanie :)

  • China Rose

    My heart goes out to you. I lost my big brother, only 13 months older than me, in March and next month I’ll have to go through his 21st birthday without him. This makes me even more thankful that he was sleeping, and I at least don’t have that other weight on my mind. Thinking of you and your family <3

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  • http://gigidiaries.com Katrina

    I find it difficult to type or breathe. Although I cannot for one second understand what you went through, I feel your sorrow and it hurts to the bone. There are no right words to express my sympathy for your loss. I pray that your spirit shines on in his memory and it looks like you are doing that. God bless!

  • http://www.chellbellz.com Michelle @ Chellbellz

    Okay over here in tears after reading this I love my brother when i was five, but he died as infant. I wanted a brother so badly at that age, that i was heart broken, and as i get older I constantly think about how he would have grown up, how much of a gentlemen he would have been. I will pray for you, and while i know he passed some time ago I know how the heart can go on for years.

  • http://www.whatyoufancy.co.uk el {what you fancy}

    I’m so sorry for your loss… this is a beautiful and poignant post. And it resonates with me. I lost my beloved dad in Feb 2009 – it’s been a long journey of extreme hurt and pain, but slowly slowly it eases and the good times push out the bad. I wrote his eulogy, and it helps sometimes to read through it and take a quiet moment to be with him. Stay strong and continue doing what you do on this amazing blog. All the best, El x

  • Linda Harleman

    I can not start to fathom what this must feel like. I am so sorry.
    I also have a little brother, that I love to death, and could not stand loosing. This story makes you realize how fragile life is, how much we take it for granted – and how strong our minds are, that can turn a life.

    I want you to know that this blogpost made me call my brother and tell him that I love him and I am sure it has helped many many more to do things that we really should do much more often.

    Thank you Kristina.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com Kristina

      Thank you Linda – if I can make one person reach out with love to their family member, then I feel this post has done its duty. I hope you can make it a regular tradition! Love, Kristina

  • http://g-o-a-m.blogspot.com Justine

    I just wanted to say hello and to say that although it’s nearly exactly one year on since you wrote about your brother – I was so moved by what you wrote. You have inspired me to work at becoming a better sister to my older sister (who struggles with paranoia and depression but who is a such a kind soul underneath it all). Over the years we have grown apart mostly as I struggle to relate to her so thank you for reminding me that it’s important never to stop trying. Time is finite. Time is precious. Will be thinking of you and your family tomorrow xx

  • http://www.thedailyfashionista.blogspot.com Emily Keen

    I remember reading your post from a year ago and then reading further more into your mother’s blog. I have had similar experiences with the dreams of lost ones and I totally connected to your mother’s blog about her experiences. It was comforting. I want you know that I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts tomorrow. I’m sorry that you have to go through such a hard time every year too.

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  • http://www.brooklynblonde.com BrooklynBlonde

    Wow, bought tears to my eyes. Cannot even begin to imagine what you went through (or are still going through) after something like that, but I will say, you are one strong woman. Thank you for sharing this personal story with us.

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  • http://badgersontheloose.com Rachel

    Oh I’m so so sad for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to your beloved brother. I’m an older sister of two brothers and know well the kinship and proctectiveness that you described. I want your brother back for you, and your mama. Grieving with you this evening.

  • Rose Anne Haufler

    Kristina … my heart aches for you and your mother. How tragic that Erik had to endure such a devasting condition. Know that he is no longer suffering and is right there beside you … proud of his older sister!

    I lost my 25 yr. old son, Neal, ten yrs. ago. He was a Firefighter/Medic and was killed in the line of duty. People kept telling me everything will be okay … in time. It will never be okay that Erik and Neal are gone … but WE will all be alright remembering their smiles.

    God Bless.

  • http://thedayo.blogspot.com/ Deiah

    Just found your blog today and have started reading from the beginning. I lost my brother in a rock climbing accident on July 2, 2011. I’ve been writing about in my blog, but it’s mostly disjointed thoughts. I keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time, but it is hard. Hard because I want to make everyone feel better, and it’s just not possible. He was my only sibling, my older brother, my protector. Thank you for having this blog. It’s a small comfort to know I’m not alone in this journey.

    D

  • Susan Mills

    I just discovered your blog a few months ago and just today noticed this post in your archives. How beautifully you have written about your brother. And I well know how inadequte words are to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. My older brother committed suicided in 1976 when he was 26 and I was 22. His demons came from years spent in Viet Nam but the loss for we who remain is the same no matter what caused it. You honor your brother through your writing.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com Kristina

      I’m sorry for your loss Susan. Both of our brothers are at peace now, aren’t they. Thank you for your kind words.

  • http://www.helloframboise.com Tam

    Kristina, I just recently discovered your blog and adore it.

    This post has me in tears right now. When I saw the date your brother passed, my breath caught in my throat–October 6 is my little brother’s birthday. It’s late, and I am at my parents’ house for Christmas, and after reading your heartfelt tribute, I stood in the doorway of his room and spent a few minutes just watching him sleep. He is ten years younger than me, and he’s always been my baby. Thank you for reminding me to keep telling him how much I love him and cherish him.

    I will be thinking of you and your family. I hope the pain continues to lessen as time passes and as you continue to inspire others with your words and creative vision.

  • lucia silver

    Dear Kristina,

    Just came across your blog. I used to be angry at my sister for being bipolar. Growing up we were all ignorant about it so you can imagine how painful. She passed away three years ago with cancer. After her loss when healing started to take place, I forgave myself for being angry at her. I was the lucky one to be born “normal”. Being aware of your brother’s condition was a blessing for you. As difficult as it might have been, you understood it. Time is the best healer and I hope you and your family find peace and comfort on the fact that you all did everything for Erik that you could. You are not alone.

  • http://www.cocobellephotography.com Ashley A

    Wow, that is a powerful story. I’m so sorry to hear about that. Your brother sounded like a fun man, I’m sure he is watching over you and loving these snowy winter days.

    I feel like I can relate so much to you….same age, very similar situation with younger brother (5 years younger, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc….) and I’m a P.A. student/blogger. Please keep up the good work. I’ll keep your family in my prayers. Much love.

    Ashley

  • Dana

    I haven’t commented yet, although there are so many things I could say about your amazing blog and I have been following it for a few weeks now!! I just wanted to say how impressed and touched I am that you could open up about something like this on your blog. My sister and I are absolute best friends and I could never imagine losing her.

    Beautifully written post, beautiful blog. I look forward to continuing to read it :)

  • http://www.yayjamieblog.blogspot.com Jamie

    Hi Kristina,

    Thank you for sharing this story. Isn’t it weird what inspires our blogs? My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March, and that’s when I started blogging and discovered this wonderful community online of wonderful women with amazing stories. Thanks again for sharing, you’re very strong to do so.

    xoxo
    Jamie

  • http://www.reclaimingfabulous.com Alisha

    Kristina, thank you for your poignant, beautiful posts about your brother. I wish you and your family continued healing and memories that fill you with more joy and less grief. Professionally, I work with so, so many people who are suffering as your brother suffered. Thank you for reminding me of the reason I do what I do.

    I have a younger brother who, sadly, will almost certainly not outlive me. He has Cystic Fibrosis, further complicated by Diabetes. He has named me as his Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. As each day passes, I know I am one day closer to the time I will have to make painfully difficult choices for him. I love him more than words can say, and I have been so blessed to have him in my life for the past 37 years. (YES! 37 years! Stupendous for a CF patient!) Thank you for reminding me to tell him this Every. Single. Day. Much love and gratitude, Alisha

  • http://jacmaries.wordpress.com Jacqueline

    I have been perusing your blog this evening after finding your Secrets of a Successful Fashion Blogger series pinned on pinterest. Which were amazing… I will be implementing many tips and tweeting the crap out of it!

    But then I stumbled upon this post. And oh, how my heart breaks for you. Having a brother the same years apart and being so close to him, I can not even imagine going through that. I commend you for taking his death and making something beautiful out of it.

    This is a fabulous blog and I am so excited to get home tonight and read more of it. Thank you for inspiring others, Kristina.

    Jac

  • http://myconfidenceandme.blogspot.com Shay

    Kristina,

    I just discovered your blog this morning via some other bloggers participating in Bloggers Do It Better (love the idea, by the way) and my heart truly goes out to you. As someone with a younger brother herself, I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through the past two years. My brother and I had a tumultuous relationship growing up, but he’s still my baby brother whom I love dearly and I can’t imagine him not being there. It broke my heart to read your story about Erik, and the strength you’ve shown in the face of such tragedy is truly inspiring. Wherever Erik may be today, he’s got to be really proud :).

    xoxox Shay

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  • Ruth (“Tiggy”)

    Very touching and beautifully written, such talents you have been blessed with. Just finding this after following Erik’s Blog which I initially found on Salon.com. Also voted for your blog. BTW, kudos on posting the McQueen interview!

  • Ruth (“Tiggy”)

    Forgot to mention, Erik was kind enough to help MC a telephone consult I had w/ Jamie

  • Kerry Robson

    Looking for some reading material on dealing with grief and loss I came across this page. It had me in tears. Today is the 7th year since my brother took his life on 1 March 2012. He was 29. He gassed himself in his car while he was in the UK and we were in South Africa. No one knew the depression that he was going through being away from home…if only we had known. The guilt is sometimes too much to bear. I lost my twin brother aswell in 1991 on our birthday. He was killed in a vehicle accident. I never thought I would have to go that kind of loss again. I find that only now in my life, all these boxes that I had stored away..things that I did not want to deal with are about to fall on my head. I feel i’m at breaking point. I feel i need to keep strong for my parents and my children….but reading your poignant letter / obituary, I feel relieved somehow. A sense of comfort. Thank you for sharing your most private feelings. It has taken some of the burden off my shoulder and made me realise that its ok to cry…it’s ok to let go. They will always be remembered.

  • http://www.stylementor.us Rachel {raw-kul}

    This post has stirred up so many emotions inside of me that I don’t know what to say. I usually can’t shut up. Thank you for being so brave and sharing. Peace to you.

  • http://www.oohlalara.blogspot.com Lara

    I happened to stumble upon this post, Kristina, while doing my normal PSS perusing. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a sibling, but I do know what it is like to lose someone very close. I lost my grandmother a little over 4 months ago, and somehow reading this gave me comfort. I admire you for being able to post it. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I’m learning how much of a roller coaster grief is, and like you said, there is something special about shared human experience.

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  • http://msclairehana.wordpress.com Claire

    The initial image of your brother is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. He was a handsome young man, and his struggles make my heart ache with complete sadness… I wish I could hug him, and hug you and pass all the love in my heart onto you.

    Sending so much love your way,
    Claire

  • http://crashingred.com/ Maria V @CrashingRed

    I feel your pain, Krisitna. My younger brother died in 2009. Similar story. Hope our brothers are in a better place now.

    x

  • http://www.apuravida.com see

    Hi Kristina –
    I stumbled across your blog today – large part due to the fact that I just created a blog spot which i hope to kick off here pretty soon. I was admiring the different blog styles/themes when i came across yours – for some reason it made me stop beyond just looking at the aesthetics. I read the story you posted about Erik and i felt compelled to send you a message. A message to say what – i am not exactly sure, but that today i’m thinking about your angel.

    Congrats on almost finishing med school, and i hope you matched at your number 1 spot!

    Thanks,
    See

  • http://www.ashleygross.com Ashley Gross

    I found myself here through a series of blogs and I’m pretty sure you need to add a disclaimer at the top that says: do not read if you’re on your lunchbreak from work and are prone to cry huge crocodile tears…. First, I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that you’ve had to walk through. Second, I want to thank you for the beautiful words and the channelingerik.com picture…. I lost my parents when I was 11 years old and completely identify with that poem. Beautiful!

  • http://www.lgsmash.com lynne @lgsmash

    hi kristina – i am so so sorry for your loss. tears are streaming down my face from reading this – it’s truly heartbreaking. i almost lost my sister to suicide in 2008 and have lost an aunt to suicide. i can relate exactly to the feeling of the world stopping when you get that phone call that changes your life’s path. i got very involved with a foundation called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – chapters across the US hold a 2-3 mile walk in the fall to raise money and awareness about suicide prevention and mental health awareness. you can find more info at http://www.outofthedarkness.org.

    thanks for sharing erik’s story – the more we talk about mental health/bipolar/suicide/etc, it becomes less taboo and more people feel comfortable asking for help when they need it.

    a

  • http://www,hautecurvywoman.com Tovah

    That was truly a wonderful tribute to your brother, Erik.

    It’s been almost 5 years since my baby brother took his life in the same way.

    I am sending all good thoughts your way and I am so glad that you have found such an outlet. Actually, I feel that anything that gets us going in a positive direction after heartbreak like ours is good.

    All my best to you and your family.

  • Kristin

    Kristina,
    I wanted to tell you how happy I am to have come accross your website and to hear your story, although a very sad one, it is one that I can relate to all to well. My brother passed away in October from ALS -also known as Lou Gerhigs. This desease has not only taken my brother but I have lost my mother, uncle and cousin whom I was very close with. I came across your blog, becasue I too, feel like healing. I love all the girly things in life and I have been wanting to create a blog exactly like you did. I would love it if we could connect and maybe you could give me some pointers. Im so sorry that you and your family had to endure such a horrible thing. Im a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and Im sure that your brother is watching over you and is so proud that you created this in honor of him. God Bless you.

  • http://simplysassystyle.blogspot.com Wendy

    I have had such a great visit at your blog today and then I read this wonderful tribute to your brother. I have many friends, collegues and family members dealing with the harshness of bipolar disorder. I’m more shocked at the frequency at which it is diagnosed and the shockingly young ages of late as well. Its a sad sad situation.

    Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Have a stunning weekend
    Wendy

  • http://mkwardrobeguru@gmail.com Melissa Kazebee

    Thank you so much for your touching story of your love and loss of your brother. I too lost my mother to this horrible disease when I was newly pregnant with my first child. In some ways the loss is harder to bear as I get older and closer to the age she was when she took her life. She was only 46 years old and I will turn 44 years old this month.. It is wonderful that you made something good out of your loss. There is a scripture I love that speaks of beauty from ashes. Isaiah 61:3. Congratulations on your many accomplishments. May you find comfort in the memories you have and those that are yet to be made.

  • http://www.judithwellner.com Judith

    Dear Kristina,

    How strange that I came across this blog post today, minutes after I’d just written “Beautiful art comes from experiencing and overcoming loss. From experiencing and struggling through change. From daring to feel whatever we feel. And from owning it all. Art rarely springs out of sheer happiness.”

    What I love about your site the most is that you do own your story.

    Thank you for that.

  • http://www.live-life-in-style.com Shasie

    Kristina,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrific that was for you and your family or how hard it’s been for all of you to overcome the grief, so I won’t even try. However, the fact that you have shared this story with others is so amazing in and of itself, and this story could really change the outcome of another family maybe facing a similar situation.

    Shasie

  • http://www.bellechantelle.com Chantelle

    So it’s the night before my second exam of medical school (I’m an M1), and I’m sitting here crying because of this post. I’m terribly sorry for you loss. It must have created hole in your heart where it was once whole. I’m also very grateful for having come across this message while I’m stressing over school; it puts my over-thinking and silly test-anxiety back into perspective. Life is so precious. Too precious to be spent worrying over petty issues, and not spent loving (and appreciating) those who love you wholeheartedly right back. Thank you, Kristina.

  • http://www.fromproseccotoplaid.com Julie

    Wow, Kristina. I am so so sorry for your loss. I just came across your blog and this post. How brave of you to write a post about this. This puts everything into perspective. Thank you for sharing that and I hope each day has gotten even just a tiny bit easier for you and your family. Stay strong. xo, Julie

  • http://velvetandvino.wordpress.com/ Becky

    Thank you so much for sharing this, my heart breaks for you and your family and I extend love to you. May God bless you and keep your family and may His face shine upon you.

  • Jay Kush

    Last year I woke up a day like today and my brother was long gone. He passed on at 4am two minutes after I left his bed side. I received a call from the ICU in-charge which I never picked coz I left it, I felt his soul depart I went straight to the shower and I opened the shower where I cried for 2hours with water running. I thought the pain was gone but yet today I woke up and he cannot depart from my mind, if feel so much pain that I cannot comprehend. It’s now once year but his memory remains fresh on my mind. May he Rest In Peace.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com Kristina

      I’m so sorry Jay, for your loss. I know I can’t say anything that will take the pain away, but I can say that I do know how you feel. Although I can’t imagine what it must have been with the limbo in ICU. I’m sorry for your loss and hope you find solace and comfort in the fact that he is at peace now.

  • Ruby

    First of all, I am so so sorry. I have never met either you or your brother, but I honestly felt like my heart was breaking reading this. It’s the most horrible feeling in the world to lose someone you’re so close to. After reading, I looked at the date, and realised how recently you must have felt it all come back again, so I’m really sorry.
    When I read about his bi-polar disorder, I didn’t really know how to feel. I have bipolar disorder type one, and I’m sixteen, and it’s not often I really hear about people who’ve suffered from either type, as it’s such a misunderstood illness. I just wanted to comment to say that I really truly hope that you can be comforted that at least he isn’t suffering anymore, and that no matter what, even though I never personally knew him, I know he appreciated every second he spent with you and your family.

  • sasha

    i came upon your blog ..by believe it or not …searching for oxblood jeans..and with my curiosity to know about the person behind the blog i decided to read your “ABOUT” and i saw this….and i must say i can barely type through the tears..i am so sorry for your loss…i say this because i know even with the time that has passed it still tugs at your heart strings…your brother sounds like a wonderful person, those souls only truly appreciated by the people who’ve loved them all their lives…my little brother is like that..he has been really small for his age all his life and picked on all through high school but there is truly nothing i didn’t do for him then and wouldn’t do for him now. I tell you this, i love my little brother and when i read this i understood your love …its a love you cant really explain, it is deep and its heartbreaking when that person hurts ..i wish you all the best ..i mean it
    sasha

  • http://www.facebook.com/lindaiusa Linda Wente

    First time on your blog and I read your wonderful story about your brother. Tears rolling down my eyes because I could feel the pain in your writing. How beautiful he must have felt in your eyes. Now he can help you shine from another dimension. I look forward to following your blog.

  • Fab

    Wow is all I can say. It seems kismet that I found you and this post. I decided to start a shopping blog of my own and was researching others when I came across this. My little brother committed suicide October 20th of last year, that day the world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. Thank you for sharing your story, it helps to know that I’m not alone in this. I hope that my blog becomes for me the outlet yours has been for you.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      I definitely think that is kismet. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, and definitely can say that in some way I can feel your pain. Way to go, starting a blog, was the best thing I ever did!

  • KristenHallman

    My little brother,Joey, took his life on June 21, 2010. I feel your pain. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      I’m so sorry for your loss as well, Kristen. <3

  • Anna

    Thank you … I have been diagnosed with BPD2 – I will try harder, I will fight longer, I will realize I’m better here for my little girls and husband. Needed to read this …
    Anna

  • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

    Hang in there Anna — you are so much better off here on earth, even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Email me anytime if you need someone to talk to. xo K

  • Renae R

    I came here to find a style blog by a southern girl and instead see my own tragic story staring me in the face.  My little brother also took his own life in the same way in December 2007.  He had no struggles with depression and lived an outwardly happy life.  A wife and two kids.  Two parents who were still married.  A good steady job with my dad.  Loved everyone and everyone loved him. We don’t know why.  No substance issues, no health conditions, no reason.  I hope that as the years pass you continue to cope with your loss.  I know we still struggle.  God bless you.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      I’m so sorry to hear that Renae. He is at peace, whatever were his earthly troubles. I know he is smiling down on you just shining with pride at how you are doing in life. God bless you too.

  • Zunni K.

    The reason I read blogs like PSS is because I’m struggling  to re-eenter life.  One day I came home from work to find my husband had unexpectedly hanged himself.  Since that day, my life hasn’t felt like living.  The grief and shock and overwhelming sorrow has really knocked me around. 
    I worry alot about how it has affected my son.  I’ve been trying to re-engage with life and be a positive example for him, although that’s a slow process.  I’m still unemployed, seeing a counselor, taking anti-depressants, agoraphobic and am a bit of a mess.  But I’ve been trying to be a better me.  I’ve started exercising (sometimes), I finallv completed my librarian qualifications, I’m working towards becoming a me capable of seeking work and a better parent.
    Your blog is an inspiration and a joy, and I’m very grateful.
    Thank you for sharing your story.  Thank you for making something so bright for others to enjoy and be inspired by.

  • Michelle

    Dear Kristina-
    I am so sorry for your loss, and can identify with what you’ve gone through. My older brother (43 years old) stabbed himself to death in February of 2008. All loss is difficult, but there is something about sisters and their brothers it seems. Oops, I’m crying right now, and wondering why I can’t get past this.I still have a lot of guilt – should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, and I miss him terribly. I’ve got this gaping hole, like part of me died that day, and I wonder if it will ever be filled.
    I hope I’m not coming across as “doom and gloom,” and I don’t mean to seem as if I’m “dumping” on you, but I do want you to know that while finding your blog and your story about Erik was painful ( I feel so much pain for you and your family), I’m also extremely grateful. It’s comforting to know survivors like us, and many others are not alone, and understand the unique grief that is associated with being a suicide survivor!
    Big hugs to you, and all my best!
    Michelle

  • LindseyG

    Very touching! I suffer from depression & anxiety. I also had PTSD after contracting a deadly disease that nearly killed me. Although I beat the disease, it left my permanently disabled. I even spent several days in a psychiatric hospital back in 2006. My type is only unipolar so even though I can relate, I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be bipolar. It breaks my heart to think of how much he must’ve been hurting. I am so sorry that you & your family have had to suffer with such a horrible loss. I have lost several friends to suicide so I can only imagine how much losing someone from your immediate family must be. It’s obvious that you 2 loved each other. Deepest sympathy!

  • Jennifer Jade

    Your such an inspiration, Its taken me about an hour of typing/deleting just to write a comment so I cant imagine how long it took you to write this beautiful post. On October 6th 2010 my boyfriend of 3years was killed in a car accident. He was also just 20. It took me a long time to come to terms with it and its something I still think about on a daily basis. The poem you read is beautiful. I wanted to share with you the poem I read at my boyfriend Daryl’s. Henry Scott Holland. – I have only slipped away into the next room. 
    “Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”

    sorry if i’ve babbled on I just think sometimes it’s nice to share. makes you realise others have or are going through a similar grief to you.

  • Nicole G.

    I came across your blog after finding a post about shellac, then I saw the heading for this post and it called to me as I’ve experienced something so similar, so recent. I just lost my 16 year old, sweet baby brother a month ago. The circumstances are similar, except that they are still determining if it was an accidental gun fire or intentional, either way, it is the most tragic, unexpected thing to happen to our close-knit family. After reading your story and the stories of others that have commented, it helps to know that people have been through something similar-as terrible as it is- and that they and you have still survived. I have trouble facing each day and imagining a life without our sweet little Jakey, but I find comfort in your story and poem, thank you for sharing. And of course, I am so sorry for your loss, Erik seems like a beautiful kid.

  • Daelau

    I was trying to find some comfort online and I found it here. I lost my brother, Adam, on 11 May 2012 on the day of my Grandmother’s funeral. I feel a part of me left with him and I have this hole I struggle to fill. I find it difficult talking to others as it upsets them, but I love talking about my brother and sharing memories about him. He too suffered from depression but it was never clear what he was diagnosed with as he kept it to himself. He never said anything but thinking back on conversations I started to put two and two together and feel awful that I missed all the signs. I have been trying to understand depression and bipolar which is what he thought he had, just so I can understand. He was so outgoing and I was envious of the number of friends he had. He was loved very much. I keep having dreams, daydreams about saving him, finding him and holding him. It hurts so much, and I have come to accept that it will always be there. I still feel guilt, anger at myself for being so blind. I am so scared that what I said to him may have affected, like when we argued. But all siblings argue. I keep trying to focus on memories of him. I am thinking about seeing a hypnotherapist to help me. I have also considered seeing a medium, but I am confused about how that will affect me of my family. I hope i see him again, i want to see him again just to tell him I love him still, so very, very much. He is my light in my world, he never knew that. Thank you for writing about your brother. Siblings have a special relationship, it is a treasure and a privilege to have him as a part of me that I can carry on. I think there is some comfort, but sadness, knowing others feel the same. Big love to all of you who have had someone pass suddenly and tragically.

  • AB

    I was searching for comfort online and I found it here. Thank you. I lost my baby brother 12 days ago, and I don’t know why.  The preliminary reports indicate that he had enough of each of 7 different drugs- all prescription- in his blood that anyone of the drugs on their own may have killed him. We don’t know if it was intentional or accidental that he took so many pills.
    I miss him so much. He gave the best hugs, and he was a great listener. He always knew just what to say or do to take care of me, or to cheer me up. I just don’t know what to do anymore. 

  • Suburban Fabulous

    You go girl. You are pretty shiny and sparkly! God bless you and your strength. (and your moms too)

  • Hailey W

    Not nearly six months without my little sis

    This is the first time that I have written anything about my sister’s death. This is the first time that I searched for anyone else’s blog about losing a sibling. I guess there is a time and point to open up, to search for individuals that understand, and to find a method of cooping.

    My beautiful and happy baby sister was born on January 11th, 1992. I remember anxiously awaiting her arrival. It was a cold winters day with a bitter wind blowing. My brother and I fogged up the window as we pressed our faces up to it, looking up and down the street for our parents cars. After waiting for what seemed like ages they finally pulled in the driveway. I wanted to be the first to hold my new baby sister so I made it a point to make it known. I sat back down on our living room sofa and held out by arms, I had been practicing hold babies with my dolls. When my parents stepped into the living room with the covered car seat I could barely contain my excitement. I remember my mom telling me to be gentle as she placed my little sister into my arms. I looked down to see her angelic face, I loved her from that moment on.

    As we grew up, my mom loved to put us in matching outfits. At the time I thought it was ridiculous and embarrassing since I was sooo much older than she was, a whole three and half years. My sister and I would argue over toys and which hair bows we wanted to wear. She would also follow me around as if she were my little shadow, watching my every move. At the time I did not understand why she wanted to be just like me I just saw her as being my cute and slightly annoying little sister.

    The days, weeks, and even years flew by. Before I knew it I was going off to college and my sister was starting high school. My sister loved to play volleyball and decided to try out for the high school volleyball team. Once the tryouts were over she called to tell me that she made the team. She was so happy. I knew she could do it all along, she just had to believe in herself. One weekend her team had a tournament near my college town. I invited my roommate to tag along with me to the tournament, I wanted to show her how talented and amazing my sister was.

    Fast forward four years, I graduated from college. Fast forward another year I decided to move back home to live with my mom and sister. I thought it was a set back in my life. The notion had been in my mind that the “right” thing to do after moving out of your parents house and graduating from college was to live on your own. My mother embraced me with welcoming arms. To tell you the truth my mom would love for my brother, sister, and I to live under her roof for forever. When I moved back it was as if I had never left. Everything was in the same spot: all my furniture was the same, my high school artwork still hung on my walls, and most importantly my sister still lived in her room which was right below my room, in the lower level.

    October 9th, 2012
    The day started off like any other day. It was a beautiful fall day slightly warm for the time of year. My shift at the restaurant did not start until later that afternoon so I decided to treat myself to a pedicure. I went straight home afterwards to have lunch. My girlfriend called me on her lunch break. She asked me if I was sitting down. I told her yes. Then she proceeded to tell me that our friend from our rugby team passed away. I had to repeat it back to her over the phone in order for it to sink in. The tears slowly started to stream down my face. It could not be true. I had just seen her two days prior, healthy and smiling as she ran over to the huddle during halftime. My heart hurt.
    A half an hour past and then there was a knock on the door. I went upstairs to answer it. To my surprise I was greeted by two police officers. I became very nervous for some reason. They asked if they could enter the house and ask me a few questions. From that moment on it gets a little blurry. I remember them asking my name and age. I answered. I remember them asking if I had any siblings. I answered yes a younger sister who is 20 years old and an older brother who is 26. I also apologized for my red eyes and tears. I explained that I had just lost a good friend. I remember them telling me that there had been an accident, a car accident that involved my little sister. I remember one of the officers saying that she did not make it.
    I could not grasp it at that very moment. I asked the same questions over and over again. Then I walked outside without shedding a tear yet I looked up to the sky and asked why? I walked back into my house and asked for a hug from one of the officers. I crumbled in his arms and fell to the floor. I had never known what heart break felt like. It was the worst emotional and physical pain I had ever endured in my life.
    She is gone… for forever until we meet again in heaven. A day does not pass by where I do not think about all the past memories and all of the ones she is going to miss out on. I miss her with all of my heart and soul but I know without a doubt that she is in a better place.

  • Kate

    Kristina, 
    I’m struggling to find the correct words ( unfortunately blogging does not come naturally to me) but first of all I want to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. In 2007 my brother passed away at 25, I was 20 and away at college. 
    So much of what your wrote rings true and I admire our strength and ability to turn feelings into words. 
    Hugs!

  • http://lippylash.blogspot.com lippylash

    Man this had me sobbing from the first sentence and crying for the rest of it! My mom lost her brother when he was 18. He was driving a motorcycle with a friend on their way to Spain for their holiday. A random guy on the interstate ran them both over. And then fled the scene. So we actually don’t exactly now what happened. But I see how to this day (maybe 30 years later it still affects her whenever she sees a motorcycle on the interstate.
    I wish you all the best and hope with time you will heel. Forget is out of the question but that is a “good” thing as it seems like you were a wonderful pair! I’m sure I knew how much you loved it! Big hugs!

  • Anne

    Kristina,
    I want to let you know that our brothers are up there in heaven, in perfect peace together. I lost my brother, Mark, 13 years ago this November. He was only 16 and I, 19. Hearing that he was gone was like an atomic bomb destroying everything I ever knew. I thank God for my wonderful family and friends, my other younger brother Jake for giving me the love and prayers to heal. I didn’t know if healing would ever happen…but slowly with each passing year, it did. I met my husband who loved me even with all my hurt and brokenness. I had my first child, and will be having my 5th this September. Each time one of my babies enters this world, my heart breaks that their Uncle Mark won’t be able to hold them to love them. They do and will know him by the stories we share, the pictures I have kept. I know that he is in heaven though, my angel, watching over us all smiling. I can’t wait to see him again. I know that you share the same thought..know you are not alone in your loss. I will be praying for you and your family. Hugs.

  • d’ann

    Writing about your brother has helped so many people. The comments are heartfelt–too many of us have experienced the loss of a loved one due to suicide. I lost a childhood friend. His nickname was Rusty. He was incredibly intelligent, funny and was a great father. And, he struggled with depression. I miss him every day. I’ll start reading your mom’s blog tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. I believe…..

  • Sarah

    Beautifully written, tragic story Kristina. My younger brother has been dealing with mental health issues for the past 6 years – he’s had multiple diagnoses but in my opinion he has Bipolar II, and has made attempts on his life as well as generally harmed himself through reckless behaviour. I dread the idea of getting the phone call that something terrible has happened. I have had to learn to deal with the constant anxiety and worry about this and find a place of peace within myself. He refuses to have treatment or therapy and there is no more I can do but be there for him in a supportive and healthy way.

    Your blog is so lovely and your story, tragic as it is, gives me comfort in knowing that we are not alone, that there is a community full of support and a way of healing through looking at the positive.

    All the best :) xx

  • plsmith2691

    I think in some way in our lives all of us are touched by something similar. We all have an Erik in our lives, for me it’s my mother. While I was far to young, only three years old, to remember her when she passed due to cancer, I certainly felt the void of not having her there when I hit my teenage years. I was lost and didn’t have a guide for all the girly things in life, the makeup the hair and so on. But thank you for sharing your story with us because I love to know the people behind the blog!

    -Pam

  • BrookeSkylark

    Hi Kristina,
    I found your YouTube channel today, while surfing the web to distract myself from some worries. Your channel caught my eye, and I dove right in….girly things are so light and carefree…just what I needed. Then, I saw the link to your story about your brother. Now, I can’t say which has comforted me more, your valiantly happy channel, or your story which I identify with and the sympathy I share with others in the community of subbies who have lost young loved ones similarly.
    I lost two younger brothers in a row, 2004 and 2006.
    We are never the same without them. But we are who we are because of them!
    Hugs.

  • BrookeSkylark

    Be kind to yourself during these days ahead. I was in the middle of a Masters program when my brother was diagnosed with cancer. When he died, the world seemed very far away, unreal even so it was hard to stay in touch enough to take my studies seriously. Everything seems trivial after such a loss. It will get better when you finally feel the presence of your brother’s soul at peace. Trust me, and wait for those moments. They will heal you.

    • http://prettyshinysparkly.com/ Kristina Braly

      Thank you so much for your kind words. My brother has been with God for 4 and a half years now. It never goes away but it certainly does get better.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/pattyaizaga Patty

    Today I found your blog as I searched Google for ‘erin condren’ planners. I watched your video and when I saw we share the same birthday I had to check out your blog. This is how I found your story. My heart goes out to you and I am so truly sorry for your loss. On Sunday it will be two years since my dad died of cancer, I think it was fate that led me to this page to find the beautiful poem you shared above. I wanted something to read at his grave and this is perfect. Your eulogy was beautiful tribute to a brother that was so deeply loved. I did my dad’s and it was a moment I truly treasure. I hope time has brought you some comfort. I know from experience that is all we can hope for.

  • http://www.dreamgirldream.wordpress.com/ K-Lee

    Oh Kristina, your post brought me to tears. I’m from the channellingerik blog, and like thousands more, have come to know and love Erik, and I can feel your heartbreak and love. There really isn’t anything I can say, except thank you for sharing your feelings with us, and also for showing so many people how to channel some positivity into their lives and crawl out from under the grief. Your inspiration and example is a very important one. <3

  • HenriettaP.

    Your story is so heartfelt! I am sitting here in tears after reading it. Tears that bring such wonderment to me as you expressed your joy of Erik, and then this terrible loss. I don’t think anyone can expect such things to happen to them as they travel this road of life. We are never ready for the things that are thrown at us. You were a lovely older sister to him, and someday you will be reunited with him in a much better place, without pain. Your blog is a wonderful healing tool. God bless….

  • Jon Naughtin

    Not sure how i ended up here but I read your blog and it made me cry so I thought I would share my own.

    http://jnaughtin.tumblr.com/post/31801672626/june-14-2012

    Be Strong…

  • Melissa D

    Hello. I truly believe nothing happens in this world by accident. I ran across your you-tube video and I figured it was just another fashion/beauty blog, but after reading your story, it touched me deeply, I have lost a sibling as well, it may have been a decade ago, but it stills seems like yesterday. My family and I have struggled with her loss for so long and each of us handle her loss differently, from deep depression to alcohol abuse. I recently went through a rough time and I truly believe that God gave me a time out to reflect on my purpose. I have a passion for life again, I can get up and love were I’m at, even if my sissy isn’t with us. We will always miss her and remember the memories. Big hugs to you and your family.

  • Bill D

    I am so sorry for your loss, and for all the losses of everyone who took the time to comment here. My brother died not quite six months ago from untreated diabetes but his problems started long before that. After quitting a crap job everything just spiralled out of control for him. He lost his family and wife, a mind numbing series of even crappier jobs, a series of really bad financial investment decisions after he lost his house. In the end he lived in avan with a dog. I have the dog and while he is sweet it is a daily reminder of who is not here. He mistook and infection on his neck for why he felt so weak. He lay down and never woke up in the van. I found him four days later. As a fire fighter paramedic it’s my job to help people but I couldn’t help you Tim. No matter what advice or money I gave you it didn’t change a thing. Then you had the nerve to die from something so very treatable while I was at work helping others. I am so sorry I was not there for you that day. Why didn’t you call me? I have this conversation daily and it’s just wearing me out. Does it ever get better?

    I wish you ALL well.

  • Mindy Adams

    I am now reading you post almost 5 years later. Just from seeing your YouTube ad, I had watched your husband do your makeup and that leading me back to your page.

    I have found my days since 1/20/2004, to look somewhat like yours. It has taken me many, many years and doctors to finally start living again. No it was not my brother, father, son, or daughter. It was my Uncle Larry that had suffered with the same Type II that your brother had. The hardest part about it was that he had this probably from a very early age and not knowing until he was in his late 30’s did he get medical help. At this point it was far too advanced and the damage had far too long ago taken place. My uncle was 44 when he had created a homemade bomb, strapped it to his chest and detonated it in my grandparents front yard.

    The what if’s, the if only’s and the should haves will never change. But as time goes on I have learned a great deal of this terrible disease and the cruel world that we live in.

    Now I’m 37, learning to live again and I’m grateful to have had all of these people bless my life. I appreciate the fact that you share your story and Erik with the rest of us. I will be back to check on you and I will also be going to your moms page to read her blog. Thank you again for sharing and God Bless.

  • Stephanie Eva

    This is such an amazing post. I’m so sorry for your loss (I think this was written long ago but I know that kind of pain doesn’t just go away!). I also had that poem for my father. When I was little my grandfather died and someone sent us a card with that poem on it. I was so struck by it and after my father died I knew that I wanted to use it for him, too. Again, I’m sorry for your pain, you expressed it so beautifully in your writing in this post. Don’t lose your strength! I am going to check out your Mom’s blog as well! Thank you for sharing!

    Much Love,
    -Stephanie Eva