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A grief deferred

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 02 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1420

Seventeen months separate the birthdays of my two eldest sons—the same gap as that between mine and my eldest brother's. Sadly, he died when I was 13, but it came as something of a surprise when I started to grieve for him 32 years later. However, as I reflect on the intensity of the interaction between my own children in their early years, perhaps I should not have been surprised that for me there would be a thorough grieving process, albeit deferred.

My brother's death was sudden and traumatic. Events of that day are abiding images. His body was found by my mother, followed by the rest of us. I remember the futile attempts at resuscitation, the ambulance men, the policemen. I remember my mother's affectionate embrace and words of comfort as we were reunited that evening when all the activity was over. I remember the coffin, the wreaths, standing at the graveside, sitting in a hearse. I …

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