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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

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When I hear someone has passed away, I find myself relating on a level I never imagined I would.
When I hear someone has passed away, I find myself relating on a level I never imagined I would.

One year later: remembering Jesse Bern

They teach endless categories of academia in secular school.

Reading, writing, arithmetic, science, social studies, world history and foreign language. Perhaps there was some gym and a bit of arts thrown in if you were lucky enough to get your education before they cut funding for these programs.

This is augmented by what we learn in religious school if you were blessed enough to be forced by your parents to attend Sunday school, Hebrew school, confirmation classes or the like. (Funny, how that felt like torture back then.)

But, nowhere in my schooling did I learn how to deal with death.

Sure, the physical explanation of death is almost innate knowledge, but the ramifications for those that live on, the responsibilities that follow and the spiritual implications are not "taught" in formal education programs.

Mourning and the subsequent process when you lose someone is not on any curriculum.

Death has to be experienced in order to acquire the aptitude for coping with it.

I lost my grandparents early in my life. I remember being sad, but not ever going through any real stages of grief. I had seen other family members lose people they loved, but it didn't trigger a "mourning process" within my own life.

Then, my younger brother, Jesse Bern, passed away one year ago on Sept. 20, 2010.

No one prepared me for what I was about to go through and still am. Why wasn't there a class in school on what to do, what to expect and how to deal?

But, what was and is interesting, amazing and so incredible are the people around me who have lost a loved one, who have ushered me through this process with their beautiful wisdom, understanding and support.

It seems that grief is not only an emotion, but also a process and skill that has to be learned. I am so grateful to my "teachers" who have regrettably experienced loss themselves, but are generous enough to convey the normalcy of what I am going through and share the stages of the grieving process with me.

Now, when I hear someone has passed away, I find myself relating on a level I never imagined I would.

To remember Jesse, my husband and I wrote a song last year. My deepest thanks to Chuck Garric, Damon Johnson, Chris Latham and Todd Burman for making it come to life and to all of my "teachers" over the last year who have held my hand, put their arms around me and helped lead me "to the light."

Please click the link to listen. (To download for free, just enter your email, zip code and $0.00)


catmeowmie | Sept. 22, 2011 at 3:31 p.m. (report)

36120 Thank you for sharing your story about your brother's passing and your feelings. I have an older brother and I can't imagine life without him. I lost my mother to cancer in 2001, and there isn't a day that goes by without her in my thoughts. You have my deepest sympathies.

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brewcitypaul | Sept. 21, 2011 at 1:27 p.m. (report)

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Nothing ever "gets better" with time, almost the opposite, but the pain does become more normal to deal with so in a sense it does get "easier" but it never goes away. Jesse was a mutual friend of sorts in that we had many of the same friends and would see each other at social functions during college and shortly after. Truly a very smart guy and incredibly kind with an infectious smile and humor. Still shocking that he is gone. Kudos to you for going public with your feelings, hopefully it is cathartic in a sense for your grieving process.

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