My brother used to tell me that grief was selfish.
He would say when you are upset that someone has died, you are crying tears for yourself because you will miss them, rather than crying for those who have gone.
He was right.
But he had never lost anyone close to him.
My brother was 25 when he died in March this year.
I’m going to write what I know about grief, loss and living.
It’s not all about yourself
When Kosta died I cried for myself, I cried because I was going to miss him walking through my front door, I was going to miss his awkward hugs and I was going to miss arguing with him all the time.
But what he didn’t understand is that a huge part of grief is crying for others. I cried because my mum and dad had lost a son and because my little brothers had lost their big brother. I cried because my family in Greece couldn’t afford tickets to England to come to his funeral and I cried for my cousin who’s last words to my brother were part of an argument.
A part of grieving is selfish. But I think that Kosta was naive in thinking that’s all it is.
How old is too young to die?
A lot of what I’m thinking at the moment is processing the things that Kosta used to believe, the ideas he lived by and died with.
He said in a conversation with his friend before he went to Syria last year that a life should not be measured in years. It should be measured in deeds. You can watch the tribute he made below.
Thinking about what he believed gives me some comfort. He died where he was happy, where he felt he belonged and he died for a cause – exactly what he wanted. I’m sad he felt that way but I’m not sad for him, as Kosta said, I don’t grieve for him – I grieve for my loss and as I said above, the loss others are feeling.
I think 25 is too young to die. Let’s take the bare bones of our existence, it is to find a mate, reproduce and keep the human race going after all? There is something unnatural about dying before that, and like my mum always said there is something unnatural about burying a child.
I do agree that life should be measured in deeds – but surely the longer you live, the more good deeds you can do?
He would get pissed off with legendary artists growing old and losing their edge, people like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan – he thought they would be remembered more if they had died young, at the height of their career.
I think growing old is an important process, it allows you to change and make sense of things and gain perspective. It saddens me that Kosta didn’t get past that age and get over that feeling.
Where am I?
I am constantly battling in my head as to whether I think Kosta had life completely sussed, or whether he got completely the wrong end of the stick.
On the one hand, if Kosta was right in what he believed, if life is measured in deeds and in actions – then I need to make some serious life changes in order to be a good person.
But if I think Kosta was wrong, if I don’t agree with his ideology – then I am completely denouncing what he did. This is something I just cannot live with.
I know I’m sure about the following things:
I’m a pacifist. Naive or stupid as it might be in a world where power, money, oil, greed and stupidity exist – If everyone was a pacifist I’m pretty sure we’d be better off than we are now. Because of this I cannot be happy with Kosta’s decision to fight. I find the idea that a member of my family has probably killed another human being no matter what that other person has done.
I respect what he did. Even if I cannot fully stand behind him, I know that he lived with conviction, he did what he thought was right and he found where he was content, where he belonged, which is something many of us still need to do.
It’s not all about big sweeping messages. A ‘deed’ doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, we don’t all have to go to Syria and fight ISIS.
We can tell someone in the street that they look great.
Or we can volunteer our time for a charity.
We can make cakes for the family next door.
We can tip generously.
We can love greatly.
I like to think that maybe a life time of generally being a good person and living a quiet life for yourself and the people close to you and treading lightly on the Earth might be enough.
I don’t know though.
I’m sure only time will tell.