Season 2, Episode 4

Eddie Cruz, LCSW, SEP  / Richard

Unexpected Heartbreak: Eddie’s Journey of Sibling Loss and Grieving

Eddie shares his personal experience of losing his brother, Richard, to a sudden heart attack and the challenges of navigating grief in a culture that often dismisses or stigmatizes open expression of emotions.

In this episode of The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, a podcast, two mental health practitioners, Eddie and Dr. Angela Dean  explore  sibling loss, mental health approaches to grief, and challenges in grieving when family dynamics and opinions collide.

  • Eddie emphasizes that grieving is an ongoing journey that involves both loss and moving forward.
  • He also describes his experience and belief that siblings are often not properly considered when someone dies.
  • Eddie noted that  not being able to see his brother’s body made it difficult to process Richard’s death.

Additional key points:

  •  Eddie and Dr. Dean discuss how grieving the loss of a sibling can be a particularly lonely experience.
  • Eddie describes how what he has learned about finding support and providing support for grieving people in general as well as with particular people in his life.

    Brandi and Brandon
    Transcript

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hello and welcome to the Broken Pack, a podcast focused on giving adult survivors of sibling loss, a platform to share their stories and to be heard. Something that many sibling loss survivors state that they never have had. Sibling loss is misunderstood. The broken Pack exists to change that and to support survivors. I’m your host, Dr. Angela Dean. In this episode, I had the pleasure of talking with Eddie about the loss of his brother, Richard, the relationship and what it meant to lose him, as well as how that impacted his work, his life, and so much more. I hope that you enjoy this discussion. Welcome I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about who you are and we’ll go from there.

    Eddie: 

    Cool. well, I’m Eddie and I am a psychotherapist in private practice here in Miami, Florida. I’m also married, just got married last year and, to my partner of almost 30 years, and we decided to get married, so we did that. I also have two kids, twin boys that just turned 33 yesterday. Yikes. and and I also have five grandkids. So, and Umberto has two kids and two grandkids. So, we have a total of seven grandkids together.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Super busy family.

    Eddie: 

    super busy. We’re a really large family, on both sides, so

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah. Well thank you for that. before we talk about your loss, I’m wondering if you could tell me a little bit about Richard and what was like growing up and you have other siblings, so whatever you wanna say about that.

    Eddie: 

    yeah. we’re six siblings and I am number four in order, and he was one year younger than me, so he was number five. Out of all the siblings it’s interesting, right? Cuz in terms of perspective, we were, I was gonna say we’re the closest, but we weren’t the closest in having more in-depth conversations. He was closer to my brothers when it came to football and poker and that kind of stuff. I was the best man of his wedding when he got married. He was the godfather of my kids. so we were definitely close as, we were growing up and definitely for most of our, adult life, even though we didn’t live in the same area, we still had a lot of conversation and talked a lot about life and, all the things that siblings talk about.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So it sounds like emotionally you were closer to him than your other siblings.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure.

    Dr. Dean: 

    and then, so you recently got married, which I was so happy for you. but I was wondering what it was like to not have him there.

    Eddie: 

    it was a little weird. It’s still, it, there’s like the void that’s there, right? so we had a really small wedding in New York. We decided to get married in New York. My dad’s family lives. most of them live in that area, in the northeast area, New York, New Jersey. So, I invited some of them. My cousin had just died two months before my brother, from my dad’s family as well, and she was only 40 years old. so my uncle and my aunt were there at the wedding. So it was pretty palpable, right? Like the loss that we’ve all had. my dad also passed away four years ago. My grandmother, my dad’s mom passed away also two years ago. So, there’s been a lot of death and a lot of loss and I think that’s a great question in terms of how do we manage, how do we mourn and then also how do we continue to enjoy life, right? And have joy and it’s definitely challenging.

    Dr. Dean: 

    right. Because grief itself is the reaction to loss, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always a negative

    Eddie: 

    Yeah,

    Dr. Dean: 

    reaction. And so I think that’s, a great point. How do you find the joy?

    Eddie: 

    yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah. Have you been able to do that?

    Eddie: 

    yeah, I mean, I think. Mother’s Day just passed and my mom came to my house and my brothers, my other siblings, were here and, it was just a small group. My aunt and uncle came and everybody was talking about my brother. There’s no way you can’t, right? Like it’s there, oh, he’s not here. so everybody’s aware of it. So, the conversation’s there, there’s moments of sadness and then my mom just jumps up and, oh, can you play me some music, please?

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    so I’ll play music and then she’ll kind of like feel happy for a moment. But I know deep down inside, she was really, really sad.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah.

    Eddie: 

    And I think as I actually the time has passed and I’m learning more about grief and mourning. I think grief, it’s it’s like tricky, right? And it’s unpredictable

    Dr. Dean: 

    Absolutely.

    Eddie: 

    yeah. And it’s definitely not what we learned in school in terms of the Kübler- Ross that we’re just gonna go through these linear stages of mourning. That’s not the way it happens.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Well, it’s funny you mentioned that because that theory was about, chronically ill patients anticipating their own loss and death, not about grieving someone that died. There’s similarities of course, but it’s not completely applicable to grieving a person because like you said, it comes in waves or hits us in different perspectives.

    Eddie: 

    I also wonder now if we’re, in some ways we’re gonna mourn forever.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    I don’t think we stopped mourning. I know that it’s not like, when my brother died, right? two years ago, that’s different that we were in shock when that happened. We’re all in a different place but I feel like the mourning is still there. Like those moments, like at Mother’s Day, that thread, like you could, you can feel it, it’s palpable. It’s there oh, this person is missing, he’s not here. and it it brings in the wave of emotions again.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Right. Do you think it’s more about learning to live with your grief than it is what our society tells us: you grieve and then you’re done. I guess that’s the difference between mourning and grieving.

    Eddie: 

    I’m not sure. Yeah, I don’t believe what society tells us

    Dr. Dean: 

    about Yeah.

    Eddie: 

    grieving or mourning. I think that’s unrealistic I think our society, I think that’s the way it is in our society. there’s oh, you lose someone, you’re supposed to cry for a certain amount of days and then afterwards you should just be okay and just continue to live your life and not feel that again. And that to me is what is incongruent with what happens inside of me. so that’s like my internal struggle with people telling me that when they talk about mourning or grieving, that it should be a certain way. That’s not my experience. And, it doesn’t seem, real.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Well, I think the more that people are talking about grief, or at least the more that I’ve been learning about grief, that I think what you’re saying is becoming the norm. So, hopefully this will shift in who knows how long, but in the future that people will understand that grief is ongoing.

    Eddie: 

    And, I don’t know if anybody’s gonna agree with this statement, but I also wonder can loss ever be fully processed? I’m not sure. I think, as humans that we, these, people are siblings. we go through life together. We grew up, whether, everybody gets married and goes off and does their life. But, there is something that’s there, that’s been there during a really critical time of our lives, our childhood. So we have these experiences that we share we don’t share with other people. So, yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    which you’ve had a lot of loss in the last few years,

    Eddie: 

    yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    and I think what makes sibling loss unique, not harder, or easier or any of those things. I am not comparing them, but I think what makes it unique is that we are supposed to, you, you were supposed to be there for the rest of your life, mostly with Richard until

    Eddie: 

    Yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    he’s older and, and he is not.

    Eddie: 

    I think there’s the fantasy, right? Like your mom and dad are gonna pass and then, the older siblings are gonna start dying. And eventually we know like we’re gonna, I mean, we know we’re gonna die, but I don’t know, there’s a, like a fantasy, right? Like in our heads around the way it’s going to happen or the way we want it to happen.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Precisely.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah. And then life takes the turn and disrupts all of that.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Well, it’s an out of order loss as it’s called in literature. Right.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    I wanna ask you this question, but then I do want to hear the story of your loss and where you are, but how did grieving and mourning that is obviously ongoing, how has that compared to what you learned or thought you knew as a therapist?

    Eddie: 

    I think one of the biggest learnings for me was that, we can’t do this by ourselves and we need other humans to bear witness and accompany us in this emotional journey

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    of loss and mourning. And I think that, and I don’t know if it’s our profession maybe, and also our culture around how, mourning is a private, lonely experience. Like we’re supposed to do it and cry a certain way and then go home and cry at home. It almost feels a little bit like there’s shame, like you do it by yourself or you do it at home, or you don’t really put yourself out there that much. and I think what I’ve learned mostly is how, I’ve reached out to like close friends and asked for support and talked about how I felt and talked about my feelings and, where I was during that time. So I think that was the most helpful and what I really liked mostly, I guess in some way decided that I was gonna handle this differently than the way I’m supposed to in terms of the norm.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm. Do you think there were cultural differences in what you expected, from an traditional American perspective? That is true that people don’t talk about laws. I shared this on, my own story and various places that my culture growing up was different. Did you feel that way at all with your larger family?

    Eddie: 

    Well, absolutely. Richard was, wife is American, white American, so she was completely different, which that’s part of also what happened after he died. It was different than what we were used to experiencing when someone passed.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    I mean, I can tell you more about that

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah, that’d be great, whatever you’re willing to share.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah. so I, I’ll get into the story a little bit then, because just, in terms of like order. Richard had a heart attack on Friday. He left Friday morning and got in the car and he’s about maybe five minutes from I 95 here. And he got right on I 95 and called his wife right away that he thought he was having a heart attack cuz he had pain in his chest and he was getting off and calling 9 1 1, which he did. And fire rescue came and they took him to the hospital and he was having a heart attack. That was Friday and they wanted to do open heart surgery immediately. And and they did, and he was in really, really critical condition. and he made it through Friday. Saturday they had to go back in. They put some kind of Impella they call it. it’s some kind of device or valve they, they put into the arteries and somehow it was bleeding.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    So, Saturday he went back into surgery and he was in surgery for hours. It was like nine o’clock and we still hadn’t heard anything. And it was 2021. There was still covid, rules. we wanted to go to the hospital. We were debating whether it was like, really that the hospital wasn’t gonna let us in, or was it our sister-in-law that she was like, she did, she was trying to keep, everybody away. And, we didn’t really know what was happening. And, anyhow, we, so we all decided, okay, we’re not gonna go to the hospital. But then, at two o’clock in the morning on Sunday, which was Saturday, Sunday morning, he died, they declared him dead. After the surgery, they said he was fine and he was gonna recover. They sent them home and then maybe 45 minutes later they come back out and say that he died. It was just, the whole thing was like random.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm.

    Eddie: 

    So, we find this out Sunday morning and mind you, I was very, very close with my sister-in-law, as well. So she was only communicating with me.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. She

    Eddie: 

    didn’t wanna be texting everybody. so she was communicating with me and I was communicating with everyone else. and Sunday morning, she called me and my nephew called me that, he had passed. And that’s like the way it happened. And definitely then came the difficult part of telling my mom

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm. Was that left to you?

    Eddie: 

    that was left to me. There were several of us there, so I made sure we were gonna be there. My aunt was there and my other two brothers were there. but it was, it was, it was pretty bad. It was really horrible. and definitely we’re all still in a state of shock. Confused, denial, numb. We didn’t know what was happening. It didn’t make sense. And, and from there just going back to what we were just talking about a little while ago, my, in terms of culture, my sister-in-law decided she didn’t wanna do a funeral.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    She was gonna cremate him, which was fine, if that’s what she decided. but we wanted a, at least a few hours so that we can be able to view him

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and, she said no. And it felt like they went completely over the entire grieving process and straight into, celebration of life.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Oh.

    Eddie: 

    So the next thing that happened after that was three weeks later we’re in church celebrating my brother’s life. And, here is my mom and us, the siblings sitting up front in a big picture of my brother and the altar and my nephew and nieces speaking and the pastor speaking. And we’re all just sitting there still numb. And I’m thinking to myself, of course we’re numb, We haven’t really grieved. hasn’t.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    been an opportunity to be able to, and I really believe that, part of seeing somebody’s body as uncomfortable as that is, is part of the grieving process and acceptance and being able to say, oh yeah, he’s, he’s dead. He’s gone. being able to see it with your eyes and acknowledging it, and that never happened.

    Dr. Dean: 

    you never saw him.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, we never saw him again. I saw him that previous weekend just because they came over to my house and we had dinner. but if not, they’re about an hour away from me. So we didn’t see each other weekly. We saw each other maybe three months or so. But that Thursday I spoke to him because Saturday, that Saturday he was having a poker game at his house, which he loved to have. And it was the brothers, the nephews and a couple of their close friends from high school. And I don’t like to play poker, but I would go to go hang out with with my brothers and just be part of the group and hang out and have a cocktail and just chill. And I told him that I was going and he asked me what, what do you wanna drink? What do you want me to buy you? So I told him, and that was our last conversation. He was excited about the poker game and that my kids were coming and a lot of the nephews were gonna be there. So he was excited.

    Dr. Dean: 

    And that ended up being the day of the surgery.

    Eddie: 

    That ended up being the day of the surgery.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. So you mentioned culturally, I don’t know if you wanna say more about your culture and what death and your experience of that was like because you mentioned that you didn’t have that ability to process it in the way that you were familiar with.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, I think we’ve never done this celebration of life thing for one, our family. and it’s always been when someone does die, that there is a funeral, there is a viewing and someone gets buried. I know that, before most people got buried cuz that was more of the old Catholic way

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and I know times have changed and so a lot of people do get cremated now, which is, it’s fine. But I have been to funerals where they have four hours of viewing

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and then they cremate the person. Right. And I, and I think that, that, that was the difference with what happened with my brother. And actually now that I, I’m talking with you about it out loud. I’m not sure if it’s culturally because she’s American. I think maybe it was more their discomfort with the entire grieving process, and what that means. So, I’m not sure if it’s culture or not, but

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah, that’s a good point.

    Eddie: 

    yeah,

    Dr. Dean: 

    I mean, my own brother was cremated, but we did have the viewing first. And so I think from a Catholic perspective, that was also unusual, right? Things have shifted over time.

    Eddie: 

    yeah. I mean it’s interesting cuz now like Umberto’s aunt just passed away and they’re Catholic as well, so they had a small viewing and get cremated, but then get cremated and put into a mausoleum in the cemetery. So that kind of makes it okay for Catholics. I’m not sure that I understand that, but okay.

    Dr. Dean: 

    yeah, no, I asked my mom about that actually. because that’s what happened with my brother. The ashes have to stay on Catholic grounds or something. They believe that. Nope. For whatever reason, but,

    Eddie: 

    Yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So, you had that celebration of life three weeks after and it didn’t feel like a celebration.

    Eddie: 

    No, it didn’t feel like a celebration. It was incongruent to where we were at

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and where, what we were feeling. And I think, During this entire time, we’re all going back and trying to make sense and trying to get information from her and trying to understand and she completely disengaged from us and didn’t, really want too much conversation. The explanations were limited and we were confused. I mean, of course we knew he died, but what happened? What actually happened? Like when did he get to the hospital? Why did it take so long for her to contact us? What happened in the hospital? What did they do? What was the procedure? We were all like, why can’t we know these things? So we were all going back and forth dealing with all that. and I think what happened was, although my siblings were all frustrated similarly like me, I was the only one that voiced it to her and that didn’t have a good outcome.

    Dr. Dean: 

    You mentioned you were close to her before.

    Eddie: 

    Very close.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    We were very, very close, but we haven’t spoken since. Not since Richard died, but I guess two months after or so.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. That’s. hard too, because that’s a secondary loss. Right? Losing that relationship and all of the other relationships that you had there.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah,

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. How did you spend those three weeks waiting for this celebration?

    Eddie: 

    Extremely anxious. For me personally, yes, it was, anxious and then like I had a lot of anger.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    I had a lot of anger and and I was frustrated and I was frustrated with my siblings cuz everybody wanted to play nice cuz they wanted to keep her on, their good side. And I didn’t want to. I was pissed. Actually, there was a part of me at some point I felt I don’t know that I even really want to go to this celebration of life. Like I’m not sure what this even means. I really did go because of my mom and my siblings.

    Dr. Dean: 

    I know you mentioned you had support from friends. Was it in that immediate aftermath that you had support?

    Eddie: 

    Oh, yeah,

    Dr. Dean: 

    Oh, good.

    Eddie: 

    yeah, yeah, yeah. I called my friends immediately when it happened. I needed the support and I also needed to talk and flush this information out

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and not stay in my head. I think my concern was that, I might be creating too many stories that are not true. So I wanted, another mind to be with mine so that, I can get feedback about, what I was thinking.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Do you still have that kind of support?

    Eddie: 

    Yes.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Good.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, I have a really strong, I’ve created that for myself here in Miami. and I’ve really created a strong support, which I’ve never had in my life before. As a younger person, I never had that. And as a young adult, I never had that either. And I learned later in life that we can go through life without other people in our life. But I think life becomes a little bit harder

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and then we suffer alone. And when we have people in our lives that we can share and talk about what we’re feeling and thinking, it makes life really different.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm. Spoken like a true therapist,

    Eddie: 

    I was

    Dr. Dean: 

    It’s an important lesson to learn- probably not something you learned in grad school. It sounds like you learned it by living. I.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, I definitely didn’t learn that in grad school. Mm-hmm.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Are there things that you wish you had known then or support that you wish you would’ve had that was different? It sounds like you had great support, but anything additional?

    Eddie: 

    I don’t think so. For myself, I felt like I had plenty of support. I don’t know about my siblings.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    but besides, besides this, the support that I had, I also, I think I’ve talked to you about this before in the past that I’m a co-facilitator at the Hero’s Journey, summer Men’s Intensive. And that happened right after the, celebration of life. So even there I was able, to really cry and talk about what was happening inside of me and really allow myself to grieve where in the celebration of life, it didn’t feel like we were allowed to do that. There was no, there was no space for grieving,

    Dr. Dean: 

    because it was called a celebration.

    Eddie: 

    right? A celebration of life, which means we’re gonna celebrate this person. we,

    Dr. Dean: 

    Versus a funeral where you’re permitted to cry?

    Eddie: 

    Yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    It’s always been an interesting, dynamic of words there.

    Eddie: 

    yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah.

    Eddie: 

    Well I thought a celebration of life was let’s say not now. Two years later, a celebration of life would feel appropriate to me

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    cuz we’re talking about this person that died in their life and how they lived and,

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    That sounds like a celebration of life Are you able

    Dr. Dean: 

    to do that now? Are you able to celebrate him?

    Eddie: 

    I think we’ve done it. I’ve done it mostly with the siblings, or with my mom. And when we get together, we talk about him or we mention him and we talk about certain moments. Richard was a feisty guy. He was, they used to call him in Spanish. They used to call him El Coloral, which means the red one because he used to get really angry when he was a boy and he would turn red. He was very, very fair-skinned, so he would get really red and and it was like his trademark. And I think that, level of anger propelled him to work really, really hard. He was a really hard worker and when we were young he told me, I’m gonna be a millionaire. And he was when he died, he worked really, really hard and made a lot of money and and he was definitely like, he was Mr. Traditional for sure, traditional guy. Him and Julie have been together since they were 15, 15 or 16. so they were like high school sweethearts that got married and were together and definitely a family man and very frugal. So,

    Dr. Dean: 

    What do you miss most about him?

    Eddie: 

    so when I called. So if I called Richard, I’m picking up my phone so I could show you, let’s see, if I called him and I had my phone like this and he picks up, he would go, I had to pull this away. Yeah, here we go. Hello. And I’m, and you’re on the phone. what the hell? like, Richard, do you realize that you yell? can’t you just say hello? Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it. It didn’t matter. Angela, he’s gonna do, he would do it again and again.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Do you think it was intentional?

    Eddie: 

    I don’t, I don’t think so, cuz I, I, I discussed it once with his wife and she’s oh, he does that all the time. He does that to me and he does that to other people. So I think it was just like, he would just pick up the phone like that.

    Dr. Dean: 

    hmm.

    Eddie: 

    Oh. And it’s interesting

    Dr. Dean: 

    so that’s why you held the phone away from your ear.

    Eddie: 

    Oh, of

    Dr. Dean: 

    of our listeners couldn’t see that, but you had the phone away from your ear so you wouldn’t

    Eddie: 

    Yeah. Yeah

    Dr. Dean: 

    be deafened by his screaming.

    Eddie: 

    so my eardrum wouldn’t explode. but I think that was one thing. I think the other thing was he had a way with, just being like, he wasn’t scared of life. He

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    He wasn’t scared of life. He wasn’t scared of people. He would go out to a restaurant. He would go up to, to the maitre d and say, Hey, we have reservations for tonight at eight o’clock. And she was like, I don’t have your name down. Are you sure? I called it in, you should have my name down there. oh my God, are you serious, dude?

    Dr. Dean: 

    I cannot see you doing that.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, I wasn’t, I didn’t have that quality.

    Dr. Dean: 

    But you admired it in him.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So are there things that you would like our listeners to know about sibling loss specifically?

    Eddie: 

    well, I think, that it feels a little like we’re not given the place in terms of being siblings and having a loss that we should be. I think most of the time it’s always about the parents and the partner and person’s kids, primarily. And we’re kind of like,”just the siblings.”

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    I think that’s like the biggest thing that I can mention and how there’s definitely a feeling of loneliness in that process. Even though I had support and I had people around and my family was around, it felt like I was grieving by myself.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. That’s interesting. Given that you have other siblings. How was that? How were those relationships-grieving the same person but differently

    Eddie: 

    yeah,

    Dr. Dean: 

    and you’re still siblings?

    Eddie: 

    yeah. Well, definitely we’re different in the way we all processed and have dealt with everything that’s happened. Clearly, I’m probably the one that expresses the most feelings out of the group. But yeah, it was hard. It’s been hard for all of us, it’s been really, really hard. I think the other thing also is, like you mentioned earlier, and I just remember like, how do I honor, or how do I still celebrate him? What I’ve done and what my brothers have done, and my sister is we’ve gone to places that he really loved, like restaurants that he really loved. And, there was this, there’s this place here, that we used to go to often since we didn’t live close, we would meet there.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    Fort Lauderdale, so it’s a halfway point. And I remember going there with Umberto and we sat at the bar and I couldn’t stop crying.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    It was really, really hard. so, I think it’s those things.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Do those catch you off guard? Sometimes those connections.

    Eddie: 

    Mm-hmm. Well, I think the hard part is because, We’re not like supposed to be crying in public. Right. Like Right. We’re not supposed to do that. So

    Dr. Dean: 

    being

    Eddie: 

    we meaning society,

    Dr. Dean: 

    anxiety or men, or

    Eddie: 

    Probably men. Probably men and, and, and yeah, humans. And everybody’s acting or going about life, if they’re happy every single moment so that we’re not supposed to express negative emotions. So maybe that’s also part of my upbringing, cuz that’s definitely part of my family and the way we were brought up. But, it’s definitely there. So it catches me off guard because here I am sitting at a bar and the waiter, the bartender’s in front of us my tears are just coming out. Like I couldn’t control myself I get a little sloppy when I cry. So it’s pretty obvious that it’s happening.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So were you trying to hide it?

    Eddie: 

    I was trying to hide it

    Dr. Dean: 

    unsuccessfully?

    Eddie: 

    unsuccessfully. Yeah, it took control.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm. Has your partner been supportive through this process?

    Eddie: 

    Extremely. we’ve been extremely, I mean, he’s been in my life for almost 30 years, so he’s, he’s known my sibling,

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    Richard since we’re all in our twenties. so yeah, he’s definitely a part of the family and everybody considers him a part of the family. So, he’s definitely been supportive. He lost his brother during Covid.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Oh.

    Eddie: 

    brother died of Covid, so maybe a year before Richard died, his brother had died as well.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm.

    Eddie: 

    So, yeah.

    Dr. Dean: 

    I’ve known you since before this podcast, right? So, I think, that you would’ve been supportive of him, but I wonder if that felt different after losing your own brother? The way that you were able to support him, does it change how you wish you would’ve supported him?

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, I think I wish I would have been a little bit more caring, I think is the word. It was also a tricky time. It was during Covid, so he didn’t get to see his brother either.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    And he was cremated his brother. and definitely at that time you there was no way you can go into any kind of building, so that wasn’t happening. And then, his brother’s wife got the ashes and they got rid of the ashes and didn’t tell them either. And so it was similar.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and I feel like I did support him, but I after now thinking about it, I probably should have been more understanding of how difficult it is to lose someone and not be able to, see them again before they’re laid to rest.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Right.

    Eddie: 

    I think that’s like a big discussion in terms of do we have to view people or we don’t have to view people. And, I dunno, for me, in my experience and what happened, I think it is important. When my dad died four years ago, I actually walked into the hospital and they were taking him to the ICU. So, I went with him and my dad died there while I was at the ICU with him. So, I was able to see him. Right. It’s very different. Like you see the person, so maybe for my brother’s wife and kids, they were there. So they saw him, they saw that he was dead. And you see that and you go home and then, the acceptance is there. okay, he’s gone. You saw it with your own eyes. where it felt more like, for me and both Umberto, that this person is here, but now they’re gone. That’s it. Like they’ve disappeared, like they vanished.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Yeah, I think there is some value in that for most people, being able to see the person that is deceased. It gives you that reminder.

    Eddie: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Dr. Dean: 

    For myself, and I don’t think I’ve shared this publicly, I’m about to, I took a photo of my brother. I think I shared that with you in the casket because I knew that it wasn’t gonna feel real. And I have gone back to that when it feels like it’s not real, just to remind myself. But you didn’t have that opportunity.

    Eddie: 

    No..

    Dr. Dean: 

    Is there anything else you’d like to share before I ask the last question that I have?

    Eddie: 

    I think that when we lose people that we love, it’s a tricky bag of a lot of emotions

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    and definitely don’t think it’s, five stages of Kübler- Ross. It’s more rage and guilt and envy and shame and sadness and identification with that person and just this huge, bombardment of emotions and feelings and, and, and traveling back into your life, particularly like with a sibling. I found myself and my siblings as well traveling back to our childhood, talking about our childhood, talking about our life together, talking about specific moments.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    So we would get into fights with other people and in school and like all of the things that happened in childhood and, which there’s pleasure in that and there’s also pain in it. and there’s something about when I, when that happens, It almost feels like the soul has just kind of like, it almost feels now, like when I, when we think back and we come back into this moment, it’s like person feels so far away.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    like they’re gone.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So being able to explore that story, gives it its place and time?

    Eddie: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Hmm. There is this theory on grief that we go between loss orientation and restoration orientation those ideas and that grief is going back and forth, and I hear that in what you’re saying is that you have to have this balance of loss and moving forward and in building grief into your life.

    Eddie: 

    Yeah, for sure.

    Dr. Dean: 

    So what would you like mental health professionals to know about grief or what do you think would’ve been helpful in your training that you didn’t have?

    Eddie: 

    I think I said a little bit about it, early on around I think mostly understanding that like for one, that we just can, I don’t, I’m not sure that we really process loss, fully process it and cuz somehow, or if it also that, like what I said earlier, around mourning forever, like in some ways we mourn forever. And how, like we don’t talk about that in school and that’s not the way we talk about mourning and grieving and that somehow it’s gonna start, we’re gonna have a loss, and then it’s gonna end And that’s not true.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Eddie: 

    So yeah, I would wish that we would be more realistic around emotions and feelings and. Really being human. Like why can’t we just be human and be allowed to express ourselves and cry publicly and, talk about the things that really matter to us and the things that are really important, like the people that we lost or things that really matter to us in life. I don’t think we do enough of that.

    Dr. Dean: 

    well, right? So it’s that whole idea of someone says, how are you doing? And you’re not supposed to actually answer that question. You’re just supposed to say, I’m fine.

    Eddie: 

    Mm-hmm.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Well, I’m always here if you ever need to chat and cry here in Pittsburgh or on the phone.

    Eddie: 

    I know.

    Dr. Dean: 

    All right My last question is, what are some of your favorite memories of you and Richard?

    Eddie: 

    well definitely his wedding night and me being his best man and proposing a toast. and then the other one was, this was a really long time ago. we went to Captiva Island, which is on the west coast of Florida. and it was just like couples. It was like four, four couples or five couples. And we rented a house, a big house on the ocean. It was beautiful. It was the first time that we had done anything like that and, I had never eaten lobster, and he insisted that I was gonna eat lobster. And I was like, I don’t want to eat lobster. I don’t like it. And so anyways, so we spent the entire, this was like a weekend, but this particular day, everybody’s drinking all day long. We go out to eat dinner and everybody’s drunk and my brother orders me a lobster. And he’s like pretty much forcing me to eat it, which I did because he bought it and I felt like I had to eat it. but that was the first time that I had lobster.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Did you like it?

    Eddie: 

    It’s okay. I’m not running back to it. So, It tastes like, it tastes like it tastes like butter. You all you’re doing is dipping it in butter and it tastes like butter more than anything else. So I’m like, okay, what’s the point? I’m eating butter.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Do you ever eat lobster? Just stay connected to him. No, not gonna do that.

    Eddie: 

    no.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Well, thank you so much. I really enjoyed our conversation today.

    Eddie: 

    Thank you.

    Dr. Dean: 

    Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Millwood and Brian Dean, and was performed by Joe Millwood. If you would like more information on the broken pack, go to our website, the broken pack.com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, wild Grief, to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guests can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please like, follow, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

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