Solo Survivor



This day 13 years ago my life was changed forever. On that devastating day, my brother was brutally murdered on his farm in Zimbabwe. That horrible day is etched with indelible ink on my brain and my soul. I will never be the same.

My brother was full of life and fun to be around and so I try to mark this day each year with fun and good things to honour his memory. I take the day off work and do something different – it is not, by any means, an easy day to get through but it would be so much tougher if I did not do this. I was asked last week ‘what would your brother say to you about what you’re going through if he was here?’ I could not answer the question but I am sure he would have done what he could to help.

For a while after Terry’s death, little things that used to frustrate me no longer seemed to matter. Life was too short to get bent out of shape with these things. I learned to grateful and generous, to have fun, be less serious, less of a control freak. I learned to be spontaneous and take advantage of opportunities to connect with family and friends and not take them for granted. Sadly I have lost some of this with this PTSD struggle. But today I am looking forward to getting back to that – that is one way I can honour his memory.

This is some of what my brother’s death has taught me though:

  • Do not leave things unresolved – I am so thankful that we had no unresolved issues between us – no apologies outstanding, nothing left unsaid. He knew I loved him. It’s not always easy to forgive, confront, clear things up but it is so much better than living with the regret of not doing so. Live with a clean slate.
  • Make sure the people in your life know how much they matter to you. Since that day I have tried as best I could to let the people I care about know how I feel about them. The last words I spoke to my brother were ‘I love you’. How many of us have had our last words be words of anger, unforgiveness, frustration?
  • Take the opportunities you have to make contact with your loved ones. You never know when you will run out of tomorrows – so make that phone call, or visit, send the flowers or card, make that contact.
  • When you make plans to catch up – coffee, lunch, whatever – be present. Turn off or ignore those phones, tablets, computers and truly be there without distractions. You can’t get these times back.

We all suffer loss in our lives – a spouse, family member, friend, pet, something else – in varying degrees it’s something we all go through. How we deal with loss matters. My friend has written a really good blog post on this – check it out here:

I urge you to learn from me. Life is short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed – we only have now and we need to make it count. What are you missing out on by working those extra hours, not using the good dishes, isolating yourself? At the end of your life, what are you going to regret doing or not doing? Do you have a bucket list and are you working towards achieving it? I commented to a friend that I used to be adventurous and fun and she replied “You are still adventurous and fun …it’s about reconnecting with that part of you”. So I am on a mission to do exactly that.

I want to do things like join a choir – I love to sing – go sky-diving or maybe a bungee jump, learn to drive a bus, line-dancing just to name a few. What about you? Care to join me and begin to thrive not just survive?

1 Comment

  1. Angie Van Greuning

    This is so sad about your brother! I can’t believe it’s 13 years ago already!
    You have written something so beautiful here and so true!
    I know your day doing fun thing in remembrance of him, will be just as God planned it and as your brother would have wanted it!
    Thank you for this! We can all learn so much!
    I love you Su!


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