I have lost my brother, my only sibling. Sometimes I truly think my heart will break in two from the pain. I miss him terribly and still love him dearly. My brother is hopefully alive and well, although I wouldn't know, really, as he hasn't been in touch for a while now.

I grieve for him. I mourn the loss of laughter, sharing memories, and, very importantly enjoying the remaining time our elderly mother has on this earth together. She lives with me, my husband and children; she vows she would rather die than reside in a senior's home. She suffers from a number of health conditions and requires constant care.

He stopped calling her a year ago last autumnMy brother hasn't seen her for a few years; he stopped calling her a year ago last autumn. He complained that she doesn't remember one telephone conversation to the next anyway. So what, I think – so what?

I'm exhausted, both emotionally and physically from the care giving, but mostly from the grieving; I am heartbroken because I have, in a sense, lost both the mother and the brother I knew. Just once I wish he would call and ask if his mother is alive, if his sister is okay. And so I need to end the pain by letting go inside. I don't want to let go, to stop thinking of him, but I know I must.

How does this happen, this separation of worlds, of minds, of kinship for siblings who grew up together? How does a son give up on his family, particularly the woman who gave him life, who sacrificed so much for him and lovingly nurtured him throughout his early years?

I often cry thinking of him and the loss of a friendship which I thought would last for the rest of our lives. He is married, has children, and is out of town, living in a city not too far away.

Sometimes I daydream about the wonderful family times we shared when my children were very young; he was a different man then, and they adored their uncle.

He has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, my brother, but he never treated me cruelly until my mother became ill. It seems as though it was that turning point which acted as a catalyst for his anger and resentment to emerge and take hold. I'm not entirely sure what he is angry about; I have tried to figure it out so many times.

At this point, it doesn't matter. Whatever I did or didn't do that might have hurt him in some way, I even apologized for – for what, I didn't know. All I asked for was to start over, a new slate, a new beginning. I begged him to keep us in his life; I reminded him that there is not much time left for my mother. I asked him to bring his family to visit her so that she can enjoy her grandchildren, who she hasn't seen for a few years. She remembers them all; she loved them all.

I begged him to keep us in his lifeMy husband and family eventually asked me to stop attempting to get him to call or visit. They asked me this because it was destroying me and became so painful that it was interfering with my ability to look after my health, my mother and the rest of our household. They asked me this because they love me.

My mother's memory is failing her; she has a form of dementia, in addition to her physical ailments which is affecting her ability to remember recent events. While it is not Alzheimer's, it has nevertheless robbed her of living independently.

She is a survivor of the Holocaust, a woman for whom nothing was too challenging or difficult. She would have climbed Mount Everest for us. She devoted her life to us.

I vividly remember telling her long ago that while I understood why she was separated from her siblings after the war, it would never happen to me. "Mummy," I would declare emphatically, "I promise that I'll stay close to my brother, no matter what."

Now I am grieving for a living brother who has abandoned us; now I can't keep that promise.

My mother needs supervision for her bathing, medication, and is no longer able to make meals for herself. She struggles to hold on to her dignity while surrounded by a caring family in our household.

However, she does remember that her son doesn't call anymore, and she suffers from occasional nightmares about him and his wife. She just had one the other day and I felt a deep and overwhelming sense of sadness for her. Clearly, she is suffering the consequences of his neglect despite all our efforts to keep her happy.

Maybe I should wish for her to be free of these memories of her son; maybe then she wouldn't be so hurt that he doesn't call on her birthday or send a card or pictures of his children. It's as if she doesn't exist to him anymore. And that is killing me. It shakes the very core of my being, the foundation of love and loyalty to family that our parents taught us so long ago.

Maybe I should leave the door open just a crackWe were close, the three of us; we had to be, as my father died when we were so young. My brother suffered terribly from the loss, but still, had a deep bond with our mother and stayed close to her for many years. How could all that mean nothing to him today? It's unimaginable, at least it was

Yes, I should definitely let go. But I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, he'll wake up one day and realize that his mother is still a human being, with feelings and needs. Maybe I should leave the door open just a crack in case he decides to open it one day. That's what the rabbi tells me. Keep the door open.

But my heart is too broken; my will not that strong anymore; I'm tired and feeling my age for the first time ever.

My friends and family tell me that he has to look at himself in the mirror each day, that he will have to live with his guilt afterwards… I keep making excuses for him by reminding everyone that he is sensitive and perhaps cannot deal with her deteriorated mental and physical health. But deep down inside, I know that there is no excuse.

I'm grieving for a living brother. The pain is now emerging as physical aches and stabbing, shooting daggers throughout my body.

I am a trained mental health professional. I should know better than to feel sorry for myself or my mother. I know that there are countless others out there who are suffering in similar situations. I truly have so much to be grateful for — including a loving husband and incredibly giving children. I thank G‑d for them. Yet the sadness lingers, the pain continues for there is a deep void. and I feel as though a part of me has been chopped off and I can't stop bleeding.

I doubt that we will ever see each other again, other than at my mother's funeral. I keep imagining two scenarios — with him there and without. My mother said recently that when the time comes, she doesn't want him to attend… but she asked about him the other day… so perhaps she didn't really mean that….

After all, a mother never gives up on her child, even if her child gives up on her. In any case, she goes on despite her broken heart, because she is a survivor.

When her sorrow reappears, it rips me apart insideYes, I'm grieving for a living brother. I hope that he is alright. Since we've been asked not to contact him, I can only pray for his wellbeing and go on with my life.

While I am mourning, I will continue to see my rabbi in order to help myself and my mother throughout this process. My mother rarely shows signs of her anguish. Sometimes she's in a world of her own, lost in thoughts and memories. But when her sorrow reappears, it rips me apart inside.

My mother and I are grieving for a living brother and son who is lost to us. There is no quick fix for grief. There is no cure for the hole in our hearts. Let him be well, and please, dear G‑d, let him remember his mother before it's too late for her... and for him.