The loss of a loved one can send you into a roller coaster of grief and emotions. This past month we lost a member of our ASM family. It was sudden and tragic, and left us all in shock. We have spent the past weeks grieving, wondering how to move forward, and how to fill the shoes of an indispensable, crucial member of our team. 

The emotional symptoms of grief and coping with grief looks different to everyone, which is completely normal. I saw it a couple weeks ago when our beloved family dog passed away suddenly at 6 years old when she was playing outside with my husband and our other dog. She collapsed and passed away instantly due to a blood clot that caused a stroke. To say it was shocking is an understatement, but we are thankful she did not suffer. It is the second dog we have owned that passed away so young. We were not prepared for this.

My two sons, and my husband and I were in tears holding each other in our front yard. I saw my 14 year old and 17 year old sons embrace in a hug to comfort each other, which gives me a peace that I didn’t know I needed, to know that they will be there for each other always (that they do actually love each other lol).There was anger and a lot of guilt in their grief, anger and guilt that they didn’t give her enough attention and belly rubs. I thought to myself that maybe they will take this feeling with them and not hesitate in the future to let people know how they feel, and not take the people or experiences in their lives for granted. 

In the days following, I saw the sadness set in and how we all coped with this tragic loss. My youngest son let his sadness out with tears, and settled into the comfort of our home not wanting to go to school. My oldest son was the opposite and dealt with his loss by staying busy and away from home so he didn’t have to see all the things around the house that reminded him of her. He left the house at 9am and didn’t return till 10pm for quite a few days. I tried to stay busy to take my mind off the emptiness and quiet that we felt in the house with the loss of her presence. And also food helped too.

I noticed that with these sudden losses in my life, it has brought me the fear of another person in my life tragically dying. I found myself worried about my oldest driving home safe the other night. He left at 5:30am to go to work, worked a 12 hour day, and was on his way home at 6:30pm. It should have taken him about an hour to get home, but by 7:30, he was not home yet. I was so afraid that he might fall asleep behind the wheel, but I didn’t want to call him and distract him while he was driving. He had just made a stop on the way home, but didn’t let us know, so he did make it home safe, but I was staring out the front window waiting to see his headlights come up the driveway. I hugged him when he got home and told him that I was happy that he was home safely. He looked at me like I was crazy lol. Oh well…

My point is that people experience emotional symptoms of grief differently and then also cope with these emotions of grief differently, and that is ok. Anything goes. There are stages you may go through to get you to the other side of grief, the side that lets you come to peace with your grief. And it doesn’t matter what the order of the stages are, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to grieve. But what does matter, is that you are not alone in your grief. There is always someone there to listen, and to help pick you up if you are willing to let them in. 

In memory of Derik Stiller.