An Open Letter to my brother in Heaven

For the love of…

An open letter to my brother in Heaven 

Dear Tom

It’s been 1067 days since answering the door early that Sunday morning to be delivered the news of your passing. As I opened the door and saw the two police officers, I just knew in an instant that it was you, they were going to deliver me the unimaginable.

It was in the early hours of 12 May 2013, on Mothers Day. Now, as a mother I couldn’t comprehend what it would be like to lose a child, let alone one forever young like you. As I sat listening vaguely to what had happened – I had flashes of you as a child, the games we use to play, the mischief we use to get up to, the things we use to talk about, the achievements, the celebrations, the dreams, the fulfilling life you had created. I could see you in the forefront of my mind as the fun loving, determined, resilient, charismatic, loyal, skilful guy that you are. A guy that endured so much in just twenty-two years of your short life.

Naturally, this day was hard – fuelled with heartache and emotion with an overwhelming thought of what does one do next, after being delivered such news. How do I tell our siblings and how to tell our mum on Mother’s Day, her child has passed. How do we plan your funeral, write a Eulogy, tell your friends and colleagues, organise your finances, your apartment, sort out your belongings, what do we keep, what don’t we keep, how do we cancel your overseas holiday, what about your car and your favourite possessions, what do we bury you in, your death certificate, your social media accounts, your mobile phone number, your bills, your wording on your head stone. How do we move through our own lives, how do we grieve, what is grief meant to look like, how do we support each other, will we be ok, why can’t we give you one last hug?

As all these thoughts swished in my mind, I made the first phone call to our brother Paul, he was hysterical as he screamed down the phone – this was the first of many devastating conversations to come. We then made the decision not to tell our sister Mads and Mum until we were face to face. The drive to Ballarat that Mother’s Day was long – long because you were not with us and long because I knew the hardest task was yet to come.

We then met at Mums house and wished her happy Mother’s Day in the saddest of ways – to tell her you weren’t with us. It rocked our family to the core, your passing affected each of us in such different ways – the shock, the emotion, the despair, the realisation that we will never physically see you again is something we will never digest. I felt like I lost three of my closest people on this day – you as a brother, you as a best friend and you as a son.

Aside from not having you here, it mostly saddens me that our family never had the opportunity to witness you become a doting Father or proud Uncle and that we never got the opportunity to watch you fulfil a lifetime of dreams. Always I think of you, often wondering what you’re up to now. Not a day goes by where we don’t talk about you – joyfully sharing in your memory. No doubt you’re enjoying life while fishing, playing footy, running, riding your bike and having fun in a new life with new friends, experiences and aspirations.

Although time never really heals, I’ve gone on to live life from a different perspective with you guiding me through and continuing to live in your light hearted and humorous way. So today, on National Sibling Day I want to thank you for being my brother and teaching me exactly how to appreciate life.


Until we meet again

Your sister Anna.. x

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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