My name is Crystal and I was 11 years old when my brother came into the world. Unfortunately, when he was 3 months old we lost his dad, my stepdad, to suicide.
Our mum really struggled for many years after losing her husband, her mum and brother all to suicide and she turned to alcohol. It was a difficult time for all of us. Our mum didn’t know how to cope, my baby brother was left in a world he wouldn’t get to know his dad and sometimes I had to pick up the pieces.
In 2014 our mum was in a bad place and I decided it was best for me and my partner to look after my brother. I had just turned 22, Daniel (my brother) was 10 and Michael (my partner) almost 24.I kind of assumed it was a temporary thing and our lives would go back to “normal” eventually. In 2015 things took a turn for the worst and we lost our mum.
This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I was full time at university, working in a school for my placement, raising my brother, trying to live my own life, dealing with my own grief and doing the everyday things like housework, appointments etc. On top of this I was in and out of court, attending meetings and appointments to get guardianship.
It’s still very difficult, it hasn’t even been a year since we lost her. Daniel is now thirteen and going through the usual teenager changes and has started high school. I’m still studying full time and working, we have never really had time to stop and take it all in.
One of the hardest things to deal with is some people not realizing how difficult it all is. People not realizing that they might be moving on with their life but we are still grieving. We are still trying to adapt to a life where we no longer have a mum and our world has been flipped upside down. One thing I am super grateful for is how lucky we are in other ways. We have amazing people around us, especially Michael, who shows nothing but love and support. Those people accept we are still grieving, it might take awhile but they are happy to wait.
Thank you to Crystal for sharing your sibs raising sibs experience.