Navigating Grief: Losing Loved Ones and Finding Support

As many of you know, I lost my father late last summer. Although it was expected, the timing was still a bit of a surprise. My dad was one of my best friends, and we talked almost every day. It was unusual for us not to. Once I moved away from him, it was a great way to keep up with his day-to-day life, how he was feeling, and stay connected. I even had an alarm on my phone so I would not forget! I am ADHD after all, and living on the West Coast, it could easily become too late to call. There are times I still miss this daily call.

I recently drove from Virginia to Calgary with a good friend and on to Vancouver, and there were several times during the trip that something happened that I made a mental note to tell my dad when I talked to him that evening. Except those phone calls don’t happen anymore, and I feel his absence deeply.

My sister lost her husband in May, which has brought up another piece of the grieving process. My heart breaks for her, as she has lost two important, amazing men in her life in less than a year. Spending time with my sister and finding ways to support her has given me space to reflect on death, dying, and ultimately, life.

What I haven’t shared until now is that I lost a best friend when my dad died. Someone I thought I would share the rest of my life with. They did not die, but they chose to exit my life. I noticed after my dad died that my friends who were able to support me were often individuals who had been through a similar loss. Others seemed to not know what to say or do and likely disappeared as a result. One day, feeling especially hurt from losing my best friend, I turned to Google and learned that it’s actually not uncommon. I found many stories of best friends disappearing during the crisis of losing a family member. Although it did not make sense to me, I found some comfort in knowing others had a similar experience.

While spending weeks with my sister after the sudden death of her husband, I often saw lying about a book suggested to her, “Healing After Loss,” which has daily meditations and readings to go along with it. My sister and I had frequent conversations about how hard it is to be around people after a loss because they awkwardly have no idea what to say or ask. Asking someone how they are after their dad and their husband died within nine months is kind of a dumb question. They are shattered. And as a culture, we tend to keep grieving private. We may have a funeral or a celebration of life, but the messy stuff is done at home away from people. As a result, we often don’t know what to say to people who are grieving or how to support them. For some people, being asked prompts the overwhelming task of having to make decisions.

Another outcome of a society that grieves in private is the loss of friends mentioned above. And this is where the book comes in. There is actually a day in the book, June 15, that addresses this idea. People who are uncomfortable with death, dying, and grieving naturally avoid being present for people who are grieving. This may be from anxiety or even fear over the whole concept of death and dying. Then there is the suggestion, “On my life journey, I will have many companions. I am grateful for my friends—old and new—and for the ways in which our stories draw us close.”

Grief is a complex journey, and losing multiple loved ones in a short span can make it even more challenging. It’s important to recognize that grief affects everyone differently, and there is no “right” way to navigate it. Surrounding ourselves with those who understand, seeking professional support, and finding comfort in shared experiences can make a significant difference. As we move forward, let’s strive to create a more compassionate culture that embraces open conversations about grief and supports those who are mourning.

If you have any resources or experiences that have helped you through grief, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Together, we can support one another and find strength in our shared journeys.

Thank you for reading and for your understanding.



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