In February 2018, my mom was given 6-8 weeks to live, out of the blue. After that I thought, OK, that’s it. Nothing bad will happen for a while because it wouldn’t be fair. The universe would only dole out so much pain at a time, right? 

That theory was proven wrong just shy of three weeks later. On February 27, I got a call from my mom. I was coming to visit her so I assumed it was about that. Instead, what she said turned my life upside down.

“Your sister died today, she’s gone.”

I’ve replayed those words over and over in my head, every day since they were spoken.

No one tells you what it’s like to lose a sibling. No one tells you it feels like suffocating, like there’s a weight on your chest that never quiet subsides. I feel it every day. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to think, it’s hard to understand.

No one tells you how unimportant everything else seems in comparison. How the office gossip doesn’t phase you and how your idea of stress is light years beyond everyone else’s.

No one tells you about the guilt. The what-ifs, the things you could have said, the questions you never asked. No one tells you about the moments you realize you didn’t know enough about her and about what she thinks and who she is. Or, who she was.

No one tells you about the avoidance. It’s numbing. It’s easier to pretend nothing happened, to speak about her as if she’s still here or don’t mention her at all for fear of breaking down.

No one tells you how overwhelmingly impossible it seems to try to imagine a time where this doesn’t hurt. To imagine a day where you don’t cry. To imagine what it’s like to feel whole again.

No one tells you that when people say you’re strong, it makes you feel weak. That your strong exterior really comes from failure to face the pain and an assortment of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

No one tells you how to cope, how to face a world without you big sister and your mom. No one shows you how to grieve without falling apart. No one tells you these things because there’s no warning for your sibling’s death. There are no cushions for the blow. No one expects to celebrate Christmas this year without her. Because no one expects to live the rest of their life without her.

Jessica Grillo

After suffering the loss of my sister and mother in March, I started writing about my personal journey through this lonely and brutal process . I found my voice, I found my truth , but most importantly I found healing in the words that were flowing from my soul.