08/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Losing Your Brother in Front of the World

With the sudden death of Michael Jackson and the untimely loss of an
iconic ambassador to music, the world is grieving. Even after the
brilliance of his public memorial service last week in the heart of
Los Angeles, televised for the world to share and be united in the
moment, it did not "heal the world" quite yet. We are still crying.
Since the day Michael died and certainly last week watching the
memorial service, I have been thinking a lot about how it feels to
lose someone in your family and have to share those moments with the

Losing your brother in front of the world is so incredibly hard. Many
say that Michael was the most famous person in the world. I understand
how that feels on a much smaller scale. I lost my brother Brian a
little over five years ago to suicide in front of my professional world.
My baby brother was just beginning his life and many great things were
ahead for him at the young age of 25 when he died. He had already
filled the hearts of many. I lost my brother in front of my world.
When Brian died, he had already quit modeling months back and was
working on a tug boat under the Golden Gate Bridge and studying
martial arts but he became known to the fashion world years before as
a model. His beauty captured the attention of many industry
influentials including Bruce Weber and David LaChapelle. He had
appeared in national ad campaigns like Abercrombie & Fitch, Versace
and had also been in several magazines including Men's Fitness and
Vanity Fair. Then he quit. One day he said he hated it and moved back
home to find a new career but the fashion world never forgot him. Even
with time passed since he left the industry, when he died, it was
news. I am a fashion and lifestyle publicist, so Brian and I shared the same
professional world for a few years even though we never worked
together -- I was in the industry working long before he arrived and it
never occurred to me until he died how small our professional circles
were. Brian's suicide news spread like wildfire. People would approach
me in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles all the time that I
hardly knew to tell me how sorry they were for my loss and wanted to
spend time talking about it and how they knew my brother. Losing your
brother in front of the world (or your world) I found initially to be
very difficult. I would be in the middle of handling a huge fashion
show in Bryant Park and someone out of nowhere would approach me and
offer condolences, catching me often off guard. It was painful and
beautiful. The love and outpouring of support that people gave me that
I did not even know is a true testament to my brother's loving spirit
that he shared with all he came in contact with in the industry and
beyond. They would spend time telling me amazing stories about how my
brother changed their life or brought a smile to their face with his
sense of humor. In the beginning for me, it was bittersweet because I
did not want to be forced to always talk about it and feel the pain
publicly. I wanted to grieve on my own terms and when I wanted to.

As I watched Michael's brothers, sisters and family publicly mourn the
loss of their brother at the memorial service I began to think about
how it will be for them in their daily lives moving forward dealing
with the pain and the fact that it is also the world's pain. I used to
not see any silver lining in losing my brother on a public level until
last year when I working on a project and I had two different people
in one week alone see my last name and ask me if Brian was my brother.
They both spoke about how they knew him and what a wonderful guy he
was. It was during that week that I finally realized these moments
that I am afforded only by working in this industry are like hugs from
Brian who I miss so much. I am lucky to have them as they are
blessings and reminders of his love. I am grateful. I wish the Jackson
family much strength in the walk ahead and can only imagine how hard
it will be. I hope each of his family members can find their own
private moments to grieve how they need to and celebrate how his love
united the world.