"Mourning" My Late Brother-in-Law

Why losing someone that leaves your life purposely is so difficult.

In Her Words

My Late Great Brother-in-Law

Saying goodbye to someone you love

-Jennifer Trannon

a women looking off a pierI lost my brother-in-law today.

He didn’t die. He didn’t even leave the country.

Today his divorce from my sister became final.

So, big deal, right? People get divorced all the time. He’ll still be around.

I hate to sound melodramatic, but it is a big deal. Joe has been a brother-in-law – but more like a brother to me – for most of my adult life.

I was still in college when he started dating my sister. My earliest memories of him go back to drunken stumblings in the middle of the night and crazy, silly, laugh till-you-wet-yourself evenings out. He drove me to the hospital to deliver my first son (and wanted to stay and watch!) and kept my soon-to-be husband up all night before our wedding. He was the person we called when we needed help moving a dresser or putting together a crib. He was, simply, a wonderful brother.

His marriage to my sister, obviously, did not work out. I will spare you the gory details. It was pretty ugly, their divorce, and he was not without blame. Most of my family has found it relatively easy to shake their heads and wipe their hands of him. It hasn’t been so easy for me.

I know that my loyalty must be to my sister. I want my loyalty to be with my sister. She is as imperfect as her ex-husband, but she’s as good a sister as he was a brother. And blood is thicker than water, and all that. So, yesterday, when everyone was at the pool together, I sat with my sister on one side while Joe sat with his friends and family on the other side. And we had a good time.

But I did miss him. It did make me sad to not listen to his smart-ass remarks and not get thrown into the water by him even once. And that’s the thing about divorce. If he had died, we could have all cried. It would have been OK for all of us to miss him. But when someone leaves your life willingly, or at least purposely, there is no clear way to mourn, or even acknowledge, that loss.

I wish we could have a divorce funeral, or at least a wake. We could sit around and drink beer and remember the good times. And then we could all say goodbye and bury… well, we could at least say goodbye, maybe throw some dirt at his picture and move on. I guess, for now, we’ll just have to settle for moving on.

But, Joe, in case you ever read this, thanks. I hope you’re in a better place now.

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