Home / News / Native Lens: ‘I know I will see my brother again’

Native Lens: ‘I know I will see my brother again’


Native Lens


Grief is complicated. To write about grief is difficult because my grief has transformed so much. No words can truly explain grief.

When I remember my brother, I see his smile—I hear his laughter. He had the best laugh. I remember our jokes, our fights, and our existence. We took each other for granted. I truly believed he would be here my entire life. I remember when he passed away, I felt in some ways I had failed him as a big sister. I wanted to go back in time and save him. I still want to go back.

Life can be unfair. I had to pull myself off the couch, get dressed, and walk outside. Walking outside was a task. I remember feeling angry with my brother that I was left with grieving parents—their cries echo in my mind.

In many ways, my brother is my greatest teacher. With tears in my eyes, my heart reminds me that I’m so grateful to be Tyler’s big sister. Even though some of his final lessons were the toughest, he prepared me for anything. Though, I question at times: is this even real?

It took me a long time to be able to talk about my brother’s death. He was the closest person to me. He knew me the best. In moments, I still become angry that I will never see his wedding or meet his children. In one of his last letters to me from Army basic training, he wrote, “I’m so proud of you! You’re hell bent on making a name.”

Charine Pilar Gonzales and her younger brother, Tyler, singing ABC’s in their living room.

As the days, months and years went by – I learned how to manage my grief with small milestones. Our Tewa ceremonies and dances helped me come to terms with my brother’s passing.

Life is very beautiful. Death, though painful, is beautiful, too. I do not fear death. When my time comes, I know I will see my brother again and meet all those that have gone before me. For now, the best way to honor my brother is to live my life to the fullest. To be kind to those around me, to live with compassion and balance. We must heal not only for us, but for our future generations.

We all come from the clay and the earth, and we all return to the clay and the earth.

Below are resources for those grieving. Please keep in mind that many of these resources are also available through Zoom and other virtual spaces:

More News Like This