Dear Savvy Auntie,

How do I get through this?

My nephew, whom I haven't spoken to or seen since he was 10, (and I was 16) just passed away from a drug overdose. My brother, whom I haven't seen or spoken to in six years, is crushed and heartbroken. He has said to my dad he'd like it if I could come to the service but understands if I can't. I don't think I can afford it. What can I do? What's something I can send or do to be there for my brother when I can't be physically? How do I sort through the guilt I feel for not reaching out sooner?

Bereaved Auntie

Dear Bereaved Auntie,

I offer you and your family my condolences on the sad death of your nephew. Please know that feeling guilty is a natural part of someone’s passing even when you have been very, very close to them. It is like a wake-up call to be in contact with anyone you care about and can inspire more connectedness with family, friends, and acquaintances.

I suggest you make a donation of time or money in the name of your nephew to honor his life. This can take the form of volunteering in a shelter or school, planting a bush, or anything that would have meaning to you and your brother. Certainly a note to your brother that speaks from your heart can be the first step in mending your relationship. So many times a family tragedy is the impetus for closer relationships; do take the opportunity.

Passing time does ease the acute pain, although the sadness may take longer.

My warm wishes,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Published: March 8, 2011

Content Rating