Loss without the wine


I’ve never grieved without drinking.  I’ve lost both parents, 2 brothers, numerous friends and others.  But never without the obliteration of alcohol.

My brother Richard and I have a special bond.

My first memory of him was watching a summer storm together… I was about 3 or 4 and he is five years older so he was around 8 or 9.  As we stood at the screen door looking outside at the thunder and lightning, which us kids always loved and found thrilling, he looked down at me and said: “I’m going to marry you some day, you know.”

He is now dying.

After a 2 year brutal and exhausting struggle with throat cancer, he’s being called home.  Mid-December, my 2 sisters and I took a road trip up to where he lives near the Canadian border.  To hug him, to love him and to say goodbye.  It was a 5 hour trip each way.  He didn’t know we were coming.

Because he would have told us not to.

Not because he didn’t want to see us.  He most likely didn’t want us to see him so helpless.  He wouldn’t want us to worry.  And his battle had left him totally spent.  Head sunk down on the table spent.

I don’t remember a time when his life has ever been about him.

Richard is a stubborn, self-reliant Vermonter through and through….with a huge heart.  A soft heart.  And a servant’s heart most of all.

As I write this, I’m wondering if this is his moment….. Or is it now? An hour from now?  Or a day.  Only the Lord knows.

What I do know, is that a part of me will be leaving with him when his soul takes flight.

I want to be awake and ready at the exact moment he finds his freedom.

I’ve spent the day in prayer, candles lit, gazing at the last picture we took of him and me. And gathering together all the photos I have of him with me and the rest of our brood.

And resting.

Because grief is exhausting and it’s only just begun.

Through it all I have remained sober.

Thanks be to One who set me free.


I am the toddler on the right. Richard is standing behind my sister holding me.

Author: Elizabeth

Happy, joyous & free. Thanks be to God.

16 thoughts on “Loss without the wine”

  1. I am so sorry. That is very heavy and sad. And I’m sure Richard would be thankful for your honest, sober memories.
    It must be beautiful, to have a brother like that. Hold on to the love.
    Stillness and peace,

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so sorry, Elizabeth.
    Brothers are special, and your bond with him is wonderful.
    Grieving without using, is a gift. Because if you were drinking, you couldn’t really grieve. You’d be hanging on the thoughts, anger, and not be able to let go.
    Much Love,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sending bunches of love your way. Your photo is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your grief. Know that you are loved and supported by this beautiful community. You touch me—deeply—with your sentiment today. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I either dealt with life through alcohol or medication. Now I have neither and it can be tough! But during rosary when I meditate on Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemene, sweating blood, I am reminded that he knows grief. And if he understands it personally then I know he will give me the grace to walk that path when the time comes ♥️♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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