My sincere condolences for your loss of your sister, Trollheart. You have been the most caring and generous sibling any person could have hoped for.

I'm so sorry to hear this, Trollheart. As Saulac says, you could not have been a better brother to Karen and your dedication and love undoubtedly made her life more endurable as her health declined. You have done an incredible job and I am sure you are in shock right now. I hope you can turn to others, either in your family, or your friends here, while you recover a sense of direction. Hang on in there, my friend.
As they say in Spanish, "un abrazo"(= a hug)

To get lost is to learn the way.

I'm sorry to hear about this TH. If you need to talk about anything, please don't hesitate to reach out. I've known you a long time and I know how much you cared for your sister. Really sorry to hear this.

Thank you all for your kind words. I spent most of the last two weeks with my other sister and her husband and they were great I must say. At the mass, I read out a poem I had written for her on the day of her passing, and a eulogy I wrote too. If anyone wants, I can post it here or in PM. It was hard - I also elected of course to be a pallbearer, and to introduce the priest, including a ceremony where Karen's nieces brought up personal items of hers which represented her life - but I got through it more easily than I had thought I would. Perhaps one of the worst things was to see my mother's grave opened and Karen lowered into it. Harrowing is not the word.

But everyone supported each other, apart from my two useless brothers, one of whom even refused to come to the funeral parlour and thereby missed saying goodbye to his sister, and we got through the worst day of our lives. The mass went great (if such words can be applied to so sad and stressful an event) and everyone agreed we gave her a great "send-off", which is comforting to know. Over the last two weeks I certainly did not forget Karen but I was able to slightly move the memory of her death to one side, as other things occupied me, but now I'm back home and honestly it's like walking into a tomb. I have no idea  how I will go on from here (though of course I will), as almost a third of my adult life has been spent looking after my sister. Now she's beyond my help, in - hopefully - a much better place and out of pain, and I'm glad for her but so sad for me.

In times like this, we grieve not so much for the one who has passed but, as my other sister Sue remarked, for ourselves. It's a little selfish: we wish they could still be here because we miss them. But though I would give anything to have Karen back, I would not have her back in the misery and pain she lived in for the last maybe eight years or so, when she got really bad. I'm glad she's free of all that, but my heart is shattered and I feel like someone has lopped off one of my arms or something. The world has now changed fundamentally for me and it will never be the same. I'm not a believer as you know, but I really hope Karen met Jesus and my mother and my auntie Eileen, and that they're all together now. Hey, they could be, right?

Anyway I won't be back still for a while as I grieve and sort out my "new" life, LAK (Life After Karen) but I will come back when I'm ready. Thanks for all your thoughts and condolences and your kind sentiments. It helps, it really does. Anyone wishing to contact me privately is certainly welcome to, either by email or through the system here. I'll be in need of friends now for a while I think.

Thanks again and see you some other time.

"And now my eyes, so often tired,
For the final time have closed.
My soul, a bird up in the sky:
To Heaven now it goes.
Released from pain and sadness now;
Free from all my cares.
The lines no longer crease my brow:
You've answered all my prayers.

To you I fly on wings so free;
My dear Lord Jesus welcomes me.
If you're sad, my friends, don't be:
Let your sadness pass
For I am home at last."

Karen O'Byrne, 1970 - 2023
Rest in peace my darling sister.

Deryck, thank you for taking the time to check in and let us know how everything went with Karen's funeral.  I am relieved to know that you found the mass to be a fitting tribute to your darling Karen, and that Sue and your brother-in-law have been a support and comfort to you. 

You are of course correct that now starts the time of true mourning and adjustment to the loss of Karen's physical presence in your life.  But Karen will always be spiritually present in your heart and memories, and the meaningful love and relationship you shared with her will sustain forever.  Just as any tried and true and pure love always does. 

The poem for Karen is just beautiful.  If and when you are up to posting it, I would love to see your eulogy - either here or by PM.

Love you so much my dear wonderful friend,

Thank you so much for checking in, Deryck, my friend 🫂

Grieving is s process. It sounds good that you're taking your time. For SCD, there's no rush. It's in good hands; my own, our community and now also our new curators 🙂

I believe you'll be in a better place at the end of this. When you're ready, maybe this community can play a small part in your healing. Until then, I'll check in with you on occasion and also hope you'll let me know if there's anything I can do for you ❤️

Happiness is a warm manatee

As there was a request for it, this is the transcript of the eulogy I wrote and read out at Karen's funeral mass three weeks ago:

I'm sure nobody will be surprised or embarrassed if I break down a few times here, but please bear with me, as I would like to get through this. If I have to pause, just help me with your thoughts and prayers; God knows I'll need them. I'm the eldest brother, and I was Karen's carer for 17 years, so I feel it's both my duty and my honour to remember her, and I hope I don't make a mess of it.

Most of you gathered here today knew Karen, but many of you may be unaware of the kind of life she was forced to lead for most of the last twenty years of her too-short life. Karen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001 and made redundant from the job she loved the following year. In 2006 she gave up trying to negotiate the stairs, and remained in bed. In 2009 I took voluntary redundancy to look after her full time. The next year she suffered a stroke which took all her power of movement, her grip and dexterity, began to take her sight and voice. She became totally dependent on me and on the carers who came in to look after her.

Despite all this, Karen maintained a generally positive and optimistic view of her life. This isn't to say we didn't have knock-down rows, that she said things she probably wished she hadn't, and I know I certainly did, all of which I apologise now for, Karen. But we got on well. In 2013 the extension was built and Karen moved to live downstairs. Her quality of life, though deteriorating in terms of her health, improved from then. Unfortunately, MS had a stranglehold on our sister and would not let go: you don't get better and you don't recover. All you can hope for is to last as long as you can. Counting from her stroke, then, Karen lasted 13 years, which is not bad, but still way too short a life for a young woman.

I took Karen to the hospital last Tuesday evening, as summer ended and autumn officially began. Within four days she was dead. Like all of us here, I'm sure, I'm totally heartbroken, as is Sue, Christy, Martin and Phil and all our extended family. Karen was taken too soon, but she left behind her a life with no enemies, and some beautiful, funny and enduring memories. She will never be forgotten. We have lost our baby sister and we are in deep shock and mourning, but she will always live in our hearts.

As her carer and her brother, I had to be strong for Karen. I never considered myself a strong person, but caring for her showed me inner strength I never knew I had. Now, one last time, I must be strong for you, my darling baby sister. I hope I can prove equal to the task.

I'd like to close, if you'll all just bear with me a moment longer, with a short poem I wrote the day Karen passed, while I was trying desperately to find some way to make sense of what had happened. I didn't, of course, because there is no sense. Why should such a young girl be taken so soon? Why should she be forced to live the half-life she did? But these are all questions for a higher power, and for all of us to debate in our hearts. Now all I can do is tell you, in my own inadequate words, as best I can, what Karen meant to me.

She Was My Sister

She was my sister;
She was my friend.
My skin and blister:
She drove me round the bend.

Hard to understand
The words she said;
Bunched up were her hands
And she confined to bed.

She loved her cats.
She loved her birds.
She loved her radio:
This was her world.

Quite touching how her
Face would light up at sight of flowers;
They always seemed to have the power
To make her smile.

And through all the pain she suffered.
The incoherent sounds she muttered.
Nobody's life could be tougher
Yet she faced it all with style.

Hers was the strongest soul I knew:
Fertile soil where true faith grew.
You didn't know her? I pity you.
She was my sister.

A powerful credit to our mother,
There never will be another
And I was proud to be her brother:
She was my sister.

They say I'm a saint: not true.
I only did what I could do
To try make sure her life was not barren.
God bless you and Godspeed, my lovely Karen.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful eulogy, Deryck.  It is a privilege to read and I feel I've learned a bit more about Karen than before, which I'm grateful for.  I know it was not easy for you to post.  Your poem is so heartfelt and sincere - but I anticipated nothing less from you.

The mention of the flowers got to me.  Thanks to you, Karen had flowers regularly to make her smile. 💐

Please add a kiss from me on her door tonight.

It's me fuckers...where's my MB Veteran badge...

Roxy is unable to perpetrate violence. It always somehow turns into BDSM between two consenting adults.

Roxy is the William S. Burroughs of our

I like Roxy, she's awesome and her taste in music far exceeds yours. Roxy is in the Major League bro, and you're like a sad clown in a two bit rodeo.

Also I am very sorry about your sister. :'(

Roxy is unable to perpetrate violence. It always somehow turns into BDSM between two consenting adults.

Roxy is the William S. Burroughs of our

I like Roxy, she's awesome and her taste in music far exceeds yours. Roxy is in the Major League bro, and you're like a sad clown in a two bit rodeo.