Music brings sad reminder of lost brother

Dear Amy: Twenty years ago my big brother died as a young man after a grueling cancer battle. Read more
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“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#1 Jan 17, 2009
LW1: I feel for the LW, he's obviously in pain. I wonder -- it's been 20 years and he can't speak about his brother. I realize everyone handles death differently -- I just have a hard time understanding why he wouldn't want to speak about someone he most obviously loved as it's one way to keep the memory alive. Such a simplistic answer but I think he really needs counselling.

LW2: Oh, that would be weird. Can you imagine double dates? I have nothing for this.

LW3: At 18 you might be a legal adult, but you'll always be your mother's child. There's nothing wrong with a mother suggesting helpful things, even at this age. It only becomes a problem when it is not constructive. I don't remember the letter, though. Sounds to me, though, that the mother was trying to have a discussion with her daughter she should have had with her when she was 12 or younger -- not 18.
nesimarie

Farmington, NY

#2 Jan 17, 2009
Lw3....I'm pretty sure I remember. The Lw was a mother whose 18 year-old daughter had been sexually active and then decided not to be, the mother felt that the daughter should stay on birth control "just in case" and the daughter disagreed.
Anne

Portland, OR

#3 Jan 17, 2009
Terri at home wrote:
LW1: I feel for the LW, he's obviously in pain. I wonder -- it's been 20 years and he can't speak about his brother. I realize everyone handles death differently -- I just have a hard time understanding why he wouldn't want to speak about someone he most obviously loved as it's one way to keep the memory alive. Such a simplistic answer but I think he really needs counselling.
LW2: Oh, that would be weird. Can you imagine double dates? I have nothing for this.
LW3: At 18 you might be a legal adult, but you'll always be your mother's child. There's nothing wrong with a mother suggesting helpful things, even at this age. It only becomes a problem when it is not constructive. I don't remember the letter, though. Sounds to me, though, that the mother was trying to have a discussion with her daughter she should have had with her when she was 12 or younger -- not 18.
Awkward double dates? When I was a freshman in college I went on a double date with a fraternity brother of the guy I was seeing. The brother's date turned out to be my high school English teacher. Not much to talk about there!

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#4 Jan 17, 2009
Anne wrote:
<quoted text>
Awkward double dates? When I was a freshman in college I went on a double date with a fraternity brother of the guy I was seeing. The brother's date turned out to be my high school English teacher. Not much to talk about there!
Sounds like all the guys' dreams on the board -- the whole English teacher turned wild.
Ivory Dove

Del Rio, TX

#5 Jan 17, 2009
Terri at home wrote:
LW1: I feel for the LW, he's obviously in pain. I wonder -- it's been 20 years and he can't speak about his brother. I realize everyone handles death differently -- I just have a hard time understanding why he wouldn't want to speak about someone he most obviously loved as it's one way to keep the memory alive. Such a simplistic answer but I think he really needs counselling.
LW2: Oh, that would be weird. Can you imagine double dates? I have nothing for this.
LW3: At 18 you might be a legal adult, but you'll always be your mother's child. There's nothing wrong with a mother suggesting helpful things, even at this age. It only becomes a problem when it is not constructive. I don't remember the letter, though. Sounds to me, though, that the mother was trying to have a discussion with her daughter she should have had with her when she was 12 or younger -- not 18.
Love these answers. One more thing
for LW1: Has he noticed one of the
seven warning signs of cancer in
himself?
Stephanie in Budapest

Székesfehérvár, Hungary

#6 Jan 17, 2009
LW1: Does his wife not know how he feels? Can she not say something to her parents? And I agree, that after 20 years, he really really needs to seek some counseling.
RACE

Vero Beach, FL

#7 Jan 17, 2009
LW 1 Sorry to hear about your bro dude.

LW2, Thats icky alright

LW3 rehash is never as good as new hash.
RACE

Vero Beach, FL

#8 Jan 17, 2009
I got the impression, the other couple were both male.
Terri at home wrote:
<quoted text>
Sounds like all the guys' dreams on the board -- the whole English teacher turned wild.
eva

Orland Park, IL

#9 Jan 17, 2009
LW3: If the 18-year-old is still dependent on her mother for financial support and she gets pregnant, who do you think will end up raising that baby? This is such an old, old story that if the daughter gets pregnant, it's practically a cliche.

Sure, at age 18, she should be responsible for her own life...but let's be real: how many 18-year-olds are successfully operating their own life in every way?

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#10 Jan 17, 2009
RACE wrote:
I got the impression, the other couple were both male.
<quoted text>
Oh. If so, that would be different.
Turnip Truck Driver

United States

#11 Jan 17, 2009
LW1: The song remembers when, as they say. At my late brother's memorial, I had to walk out for a breath of fresh air because they were playing all of his favorite songs. I thought I could handle it and even provided my nephew with the names of the ones we grew up to.
It wasn't until about the third year that I could listen to the songs and then with tears- good and bad.
Now, I smile when I hear tthem. Some are still,(5 years out), more difficult to hear than others. But, I strongly associate them with him and it's almost like a visit from him and more simple times.
I think the fact that your in-laws are playing them so casually might also be a factor in your reaction. But, it does worry me that 20 years have passed and you are unable to listen to your brother's songs.
It sounds like grief counseling might be a good idea at this point. It's important to know that most of us never get "over" our loss. But, we do get "through" it.
Even if you choose to never listen to the music again, that will be your choice, obviously. But, then you kind of set yourself up to someone playing it,(like your in-laws or somewhere else), catching you off guard to it and having to deal with it in grieving way instead of, as time passes, a way to reconnect with our late loved ones.

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#12 Jan 17, 2009
Turnip Truck Driver wrote:
LW1: The song remembers when, as they say. At my late brother's memorial, I had to walk out for a breath of fresh air because they were playing all of his favorite songs. I thought I could handle it and even provided my nephew with the names of the ones we grew up to.
It wasn't until about the third year that I could listen to the songs and then with tears- good and bad.
Now, I smile when I hear tthem. Some are still,(5 years out), more difficult to hear than others. But, I strongly associate them with him and it's almost like a visit from him and more simple times.
I think the fact that your in-laws are playing them so casually might also be a factor in your reaction. But, it does worry me that 20 years have passed and you are unable to listen to your brother's songs.
It sounds like grief counseling might be a good idea at this point. It's important to know that most of us never get "over" our loss. But, we do get "through" it.
Even if you choose to never listen to the music again, that will be your choice, obviously. But, then you kind of set yourself up to someone playing it,(like your in-laws or somewhere else), catching you off guard to it and having to deal with it in grieving way instead of, as time passes, a way to reconnect with our late loved ones.
I'm glad you can enjoy the songs again and the sweet memories they bring. Always forever in your heart, I'm sure.
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#13 Jan 17, 2009
LW1 - It's one thing to be strolling through a store and hear one of these fleeting tunes that elevate your emotions - I'm sure you get past that and go on with your day. But to endure an evening trying to control these deep emotions is silly. Also, you surely don't want to find a way to overcome the feelings that this music evokes, because there are not many things in life that make us feel that much. You are obviously able to state your situation in writing because you just did. So give your in-laws a note. I am quite sure that there are other musical genres they like and can play during your brief visits.

My own approach would be to just say: " but I can't take this music. Do you think we could listen to anything else?"

And it's always fun to put really inappropriate lyrics to the music and sing them in a silly way until the hosts get the hint.

LW2 - You probably should tell your mother that you've been interested in Noah for a while because if you don't, she's going to feel like you're playing some kind of psychotic game when you take your flirtation into overdrive.

Otherwise, it sounds like all parties concerned are pretty much adults and should be able to pursue their own love interests.
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#14 Jan 17, 2009
Anne wrote:
<quoted text>
Awkward double dates? When I was a freshman in college I went on a double date with a fraternity brother of the guy I was seeing. The brother's date turned out to be my high school English teacher. Not much to talk about there!
Now that's funny! Did you call her Miss Jones all night?
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#15 Jan 17, 2009
Stephanie in Budapest wrote:
LW1: Does his wife not know how he feels? Can she not say something to her parents? And I agree, that after 20 years, he really really needs to seek some counseling.
I would think that absolutely everyone has an example of this same thing - we associate a particularly traumatic (or ecstatic) moment in our lives with a sound, a smell, or a landscape. We can bear to be exposed to these associations but we don't want to be immersed in them. And I've never shared mine with my husband. Some of our interior stuff is private and we keep it that way because it belongs only to us.

I don't think there's anything wrong with him except that he has a reason most of us don't for not wanting to visit his in-laws.

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#16 Jan 17, 2009
Mia wrote:
<quoted text>
I would think that absolutely everyone has an example of this same thing - we associate a particularly traumatic (or ecstatic) moment in our lives with a sound, a smell, or a landscape. We can bear to be exposed to these associations but we don't want to be immersed in them. And I've never shared mine with my husband. Some of our interior stuff is private and we keep it that way because it belongs only to us.
I don't think there's anything wrong with him except that he has a reason most of us don't for not wanting to visit his in-laws.
I understand what you are saying, I believe, but for me -- if someone is close to me I would want to share those things that are the most inner part of my being. If I couldn't do that, they wouldn't be my spouse. I can understand not sharing 100% with your in-laws, but your spouse?
KIZ

Northbrook, IL

#17 Jan 17, 2009
RACE wrote:
I got the impression, the other couple were both male.
<quoted text>
Really? Hmm. I didn't get that impression at all.
Name Witheld

United States

#18 Jan 17, 2009
Mia wrote:
<quoted text>
I would think that absolutely everyone has an example of this same thing - we associate a particularly traumatic (or ecstatic) moment in our lives with a sound, a smell, or a landscape. We can bear to be exposed to these associations but we don't want to be immersed in them. And I've never shared mine with my husband. Some of our interior stuff is private and we keep it that way because it belongs only to us.
I don't think there's anything wrong with him except that he has a reason most of us don't for not wanting to visit his in-laws.
And sometimes the things you equate with trauma don't make sense either. For example, the smell of purple Windex always reminds me of when I went through my divorce...Weird..
Jane

Oak Park, IL

#19 Jan 17, 2009
LW2 is a current story line on Gossip Girls.

LW1 definitely needs counseling. After 20 YEARS (?!) he should not be sad hearing music his brother enjoyed. There is something else behind this. He has unresolved issues blah, blah, blah... but he should deal with it for his own well being.
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#20 Jan 17, 2009
Terri at home wrote:
<quoted text>
I understand what you are saying, I believe, but for me -- if someone is close to me I would want to share those things that are the most inner part of my being. If I couldn't do that, they wouldn't be my spouse. I can understand not sharing 100% with your in-laws, but your spouse?
I COULD share with my husband how the smell of burning wood on a cold October night makes me feel. One day I might. Certainly we share deep memories and emotions. My husband and I have been together for 30 years so we know each other as well as people can know each other.

Nonetheless, there are lots of things he doesn't know about me...I hope. I like my private self.

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