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Close the Loop: Honoring My Brother

By July 11, 2021July 12th, 2021How to Organize Your Life Blog

As a professional organizer, one of the things my clients will often hear me say is, “Remember to close the loop”. What I mean by this is finish the task. There is a natural cycle to tasks, and they are not finished until all the steps involved in doing the task are completed. If we are talking about laundry, that task is not done until the laundry is put away. My siblings and I are gathering to close the loop and honoring my brother this weekend.

Like many families, we lost my brother during the Pandemic lockdown. He did not have the disease but died suddenly from a massive heart-attack. He was too young. At 61 he had a lot of life yet to live. Charles was a social guy. In fact, he thrived on being in a crowd and entertaining anyone who would listen. I know that like many others who live alone, the circumstances of the lockdown made him sad and lonely.

Of course, we shared text messages and some phone calls but those didn’t really help Charles since he longed to be with people. He had just moved to Stonington from Madison, Connecticut. He and I had a few calls about organizing his new home. I let him know he would feel more settled when he finished unpacking boxes. Once again, close the loop. This was not to be.

It was November 1st, All Saints Day, when I got the news that Charles had passed. My two sisters and my other brother along with Charles’ son and a few of the cousins decided to meet at a small chapel connected to the funeral parlor in Connecticut a few days later.

Even though we are a close family we were all a little fearful. We met outside the chapel and gave each other a quick little hug. Of course, we were all masked and staying a respectful 6 feet apart. We didn’t want to get too near each other. There we were in this chapel to which we had no connection, listening to a priest we didn’t know, rush through some prayers. Once back outside, we got into our respective cars and drove to a little restaurant which had managed to stay open. We had a meal and then parted ways.

This gathering felt wrong to me. Yes, we were able to be together but I was not satisfied, nor did I feel at peace. This was not the sendoff my brother would have wanted.

Celebrating a Life

This weekend we are celebrating Charles’ life. We are meeting and celebrating his life with a service at a chapel just outside of Tannersville, NY. Our parents had a summer home here. We spent many wonderful fun-filled summers in this community.  Every Sunday we sang in the choir alongside our peers.

Yesterday, July 10th, was a perfectly beautiful summer day. We, and some of the friends we knew (and who knew our brother) gathered at this lovely little chapel nestled in the Catskill mountains. We stood around the headstone placed next to that of our father and remembered Charles.

Diane and her family gather here to close the loop and honor Charles

The pastor had been in touch with my other brother, Chris, and put together a meaningful tribute. Chis also shared some of his thoughts. Charles’ son, Charles, followed Chris with a few thoughtful and heart-felt remarks.

Following this service, we met at the clubhouse for lunch. A few of the cousins remarked that it looked like the dining room from the movie, Dirty Dancing. I had to chuckle at that comment because there is a small theatre where the community puts on a show every summer and there is even a lake!

This gathering closed the loop for me and for the rest of the family. We came together in a place that meant something to us and to Charles. We buried his ashes and said our good-byes.

I know that there are thousands of families who lost a loved-one during this pandemic. We were not alone in having a quick service or maybe even no service at all to honor the family member.

It was important for our family to do something else. To gather when it became possible to share warm and meaningful hugs. We always knew that Charles’ final resting place was going to be in this graveyard. So, we waited to schedule this service when most of us could be there. Yes. We missed 3 cousins, traveling to upstate New York wasn’t possible for them. But we know they were thinking of us and of their Uncle Charles.

Maybe this is you. Did your family miss out on gathering together to honor a loved-one? My suggestion is to close the loop. Try to schedule a time to be together to remember your loved-one. Share those long awaited, meaningful hugs and tears. It has helped me and my siblings and brought us peace. I hope it will help you, too.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia

21 Comments

  • Jocelyn says:

    I’m so sorry for the untimely loss of your brother, Diane. How wonderful that you and your family had an opportunity to “close the loop” together in a way that felt meaningful and right. Thinking of you…

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Jocelyn. It was meaningful, lovely and just the right amount of laughter and tears.

  • Diane, I am so glad that you were able to close the loop in such a meaningful way with your family. Taking the time to do this is very important.

  • Seana Turner says:

    My heart goes out to you, Diane. Such a sudden loss, and for someone so young. I love knowing that you were nearby my neck of the woods for this tribute, and that you got a beautiful day (which we haven’t had many of this summer!). You and all of your family offer a beautiful illustration of how to “close the loop.” There is something so comforting to be together, in person, with others who share your loss. These couple of years have been filled with challenge on so many levels, and closure is something so many never had. May this post encourage them, and perhaps inspire them to do so now.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Seana. I know there are a multitude of families in a similar situation. Coming together this way – even so long after his passing – brought about a great sense of peace to us.

  • Diane,
    This is such a touching post and clearly speaks of your close knit family and the love you have for one another, especially Charles. How lovely that you were able to honor him in a very special way. I love that you made sure it all happened.
    Sometimes, it’s difficult to close the loop. I lost my stepmother last October and for some of us, the loop is still lingering. Still, life goes on and the loving memories I have for this woman grow deeper.
    Family and close friends are so important at times like this. They give us the strength we need to mourn and go on.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Oh Ronni, I’m sorry for your loss. It is so very important to recognize the value of family and close friends. They do bring us strength and resilience.

  • My heart goes out to you for the sudden loss of your beloved brother, Charles. I know how hard it must have been to say your goodbyes during the pandemic in a way that was less than satisfying and didn’t feel quite right. But how beautiful that you were able to honor him and lay him to rest now in a meaningful way with most of your family there too. I am so glad for you that being able to come together to celebrate Charles’ life brought you so much peace. Sending you extra love and hugs.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Linda. It was important for us and it makes me happy to know that this came through in my blog this week.

  • So sorry for your loss. That is lovely how you all “closed the loop”. God bless you and your family.

  • Sheri Steed says:

    I love that you and your family took the time to do this. Loosing a loved one takes time to process and not being able to celebrate their life and mourn together properly makes it even harder.

  • I am sorry for your loss. It is important to close the loop for many people and so many are having to do so after long waits over 2020.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    I’m so sorry about your brother’s passing, Diane. May his memory be a blessing.

    This was a beautiful piece, and I think it will bring comfort to many others, both in the wisdom of closing the loop, and in your tender description of what your family went through (and did not get to do), as so many have felt the same pain this past year+. This COVID period has been a thief, stealing joy but also solace, and I hope closing this loop has gone a long way toward giving your family joy in celebrating Charles’ life, and solace by coming together to share his memory.

    Thank you for comforting so many others with your story.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Julie. I really like the way you identified this period in time as a thief. It has stolen and continues to steal joy and solace from many families. I am thankful that we took the time to close the loop in a way that was meaningful to our family.

  • Lisa Gessert says:

    Diane, I am so sorry for your loss and I thank you for sharing this. Love the phase “Close the loop”

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    This was so touching to read and such a great example of organizing isn’t just about the stuff. Using your organizational skills, you were able to give Charles and your whole family the send off you all needed. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.