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In Agony


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Last Monday my only and younger brother was cleaning his

Infinity pool at his cliff side house in Cape Town and slipped. He fell 6 metres

and hit his head. I received a call later that day in which a friend delivered the terrible news with words which still haunt me: “I’m very sorry but Omar has passed away” -  so inadequate and anodyne they seemed but also possessing a dreadful finality.

The agony is almost constant and visceral. I find myself sobbing uncontrollably and at times whimpering like a wounded animal. I’m in so much pain, that words can at best only hint at it ... This has broken me. every moment feels like an eternity; the simplest tasks feel like a mountain to climb. I was already on my knees - this has floored me.


He was only 50, 3 years younger than me. For years like myself he struggled with alcoholism and other addictions (and the underlying emotional trauma) - and like me, he could not fully conquer his demons.  But in some ways he was the stronger, more positive and life affirming one. He was as much a father (my biological father utterly inadequate -  had long abandoned us) as a brother - always pulling me out of my frequent bouts of melancholia.


Initially - and still at times now - I felt  like I'm in the depths of Hell , with no end in sight. Except perhaps Death itself when it comes for me. I imagine my brother falling to his death like a tape in an endless loop. I can't forgive myself for not being there to catch him. I never realised how much I loved him.


What has sustained me is the unyielding and tireless love of partner of 20 years Susan.


But then I learnt from his girlfriend Imogen that he saw it as one of his life’s ‘missions’ to help me recover.  It was then that it began to dawn on me that the only good that can come from this terrible loss  is for me to honour his memory (and my partner’s love) is to turn this terrible tragedy as a catalyst  to clean up my act and begin to heal... A sort of spiritual alchemy. (This is an excerpt about how Eric Clapton responded to the death of his beautiful 4 year old boy: When the tragedy occurred, Clapton was reportedly just three years sober after battling drug and alcohol abuse for over a decade. And while his son’s death could have easily made Clapton resort to his old vices to numb his grief, Norman said he was determined to stay sober.

“He was trying to beat the alcoholism when his son was just a baby,” said Norman. “He was fighting against it. But it was really the death of Conor that made him determined that he would never drink again.”)


I know my only hope to find some  peace is to challenge my habitual almost nihilistic skepticism and cynicism (long used to justify my various self destructive addictive behaviours) is to find that spiritual connection, and start trusting his spirit lives on. But then the realisation that even if his soul has survived physical death,I will never again be able to see him and hold him again in this lifetime floods me and I find myself drowning in grief.

Yesterday, I learnt the details of how my brother died. He wanted the pool attendant  to clean the edges of the pool. He refused to do it without the proper pole; he went to the van to retrieve it. Too impatient to wait my brother decided to start the job himself, climbed to the edge, slipped and fell 6metres headfirst into the rocks and died. I’m so angry at his recklessness and impatience!  It could have been so easily avoided .

I’m so heartbroken, but also so angry that Omar threw his life away so recklessly - I’m also aware how his extreme OCD (mainly concerning his home environment ) mirrors the Russian Roulette I’ve played with my life for so long;  and this has to stop for Omar, for Susan, for me.

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Dear Kam67,

My deepest sympathies and condolences. I'm so sorry for your loss, pain and deep sorrow. 

Thinking of you and your family during this sad and difficult time.

Sending my thoughts and prayers.

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