When Life Takes You By Surprise

15 Ways to Handle Loss of Loved Ones


On July 8th, my beloved brother lost his battle with cancer. This event took the family by surprise as we had no idea the cancer had returned. Toxins overtook his body and his heart gave out. At 8am that morning, we got the call… Those fatal words that no one ever wants to hear.

Your brother passed away this morning.

For me, the shock of this news didn’t settle in and make itself at home in my head until after we arrived at the hospital and identified the body. A rush of emotions hit me that day. All the memories of good times I’d had with my brother flashed through my head. The moment overwhelmed me and I broke down. However, my brother needed to have the proper send off and all of us agreed that we needed to band together to do so.

Differences and sibling rivalry aside, we set to work. My sisters and nephews put our heads together and dedicated the entire week to making sure my brother had the proper farewell ceremony. The love of family runs deep and even though my brother was a man of few words, he had a wonderful group of supporters gathered around to bid him farewell.

That evening after all the funeral and repass festivities ended, I felt the effects of the truth setting in. A third round of grief and emotion hit me. However, I chose to focus on the beautiful memories of a well-planned funeral and the aftereffects of a family gathering that included jokes and fond memories of the man of little words…aka my brother.

The week turned out well. The world didn’t stop turning. And I had the pleasure of rebuilding relationships with folks I hadn’t seen in years. This morning while writing this article, I still find myself shedding a few tears. However that’s okay. These tears signify happy things and comfort in knowing that my brother no longer suffers from the discomforts of his cancer.

As I prepare to take on life again, I’ve put together a list of things I’ve done to tackle and control this grief. The healing process takes time and the pain never goes away. Yet we must focus on the positive and do our best to power on as our loved one would expect us to do.

My hope is that if you find yourself going through emotional grief at some point in your life, then maybe one or two things on this list will make a difference for you as well.

1. Allow yourself time to grieve. It sounds like simple advice, but so many times we jump back into work and our social lives without giving ourselves critical time and space to recuperate.

2. Don’t hold back emotion. Feel like crying in your booth at work? Then do so. You are not made of stone. Don’t hold everything inside.

3. Friends and coworkers will reach out to you. Allow them to do so. However, sometimes good will can intrude on your personal space. Politely tell your friends you need time alone when necessary. I’m sure they will understand.

4. Work with family. You need their support more than ever during this tough time.

5. Don’t try to handle everything alone. Taking care of a deceased loved one doesn’t just stop at the funeral home. There’ll be outstanding bills. Credit bureaus need to be contacted. Friends and extended family who live far away need to know what’s going on. Call on your family and friends to help you make this crucial transition.

6. Ease back into work and take frequent breaks throughout the day.

7. Take a road or day trip.

8. Do something fun as soon as possible. Try to resume a semi-normal state of being after losing a loved one, a crucial step in the healing process.

9. Plan a vacation. But start with the small details and work your way up from there. Create a Pinterest Board to help turn your trip into a reality.

10. Conquer a hobby. My grief project was to finish a vision board, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And guess what? I did it. In fact, that tutorial will be one of the first YouTube videos I upload on our channel’s launch day.

11. Spend some time in the garden. There’s nothing that calms my soul the way a casual stroll through a land filled with magical pretty flowers. I love visiting Duke Gardens, one of the largest botanical sites in the United States. In fact, I love flowers so much I’ve filled this post with lovely floral images by the super talented Viktor Hanacek of Picjumbo.com.

12. Exercise. We all know how the saying goes: Exercise produces happy endorphins. Guess what? It’s true. Super duperly true. I’m so much happier when I spend at least 10 minutes a day on Vinyasa Yoga.

13. Meditate.

14. Chill. Read. Repeat.

15. Record your thoughts in a journal.

While the pain of losing a loved one never goes away, I’ve found that stimulating both my body and mind go a long way to giving me strength to handle loss. I hope you find at least one of these tips helpful as well.

In loving memory of Willie Gene Lee, Jr.

June 4th, 1959 – July 8th, 2017


**The article When Life Takes You By Surprise 15 Ways to Handles Loss of Loved Ones first appeared on Live Well. Be Fabulous on 7/31/17**