I don’t know anyone who can honestly say that they welcomed grief with open arms. Yet once you become acquainted with loss, it becomes a constant companion that you just learn to live with in some semblance of harmony.

Losing loved ones has shaped the fabric of my life from a tender age. I lost my mum when I was 17 and my big sister at the age 40. Though I loved both dearly, I grieve their loss in different ways. I remember that when my mum died, I was introduced to the concept of legacy even though I didn’t fully grasp its depth at the time. My mum was a housewife in an abusive marriage so as a child, I could tell that her wings were clipped. In spite of that, she made time for those less fortunate showing compassion and empathy even when she was bedridden.

That generosity of spirit made a lasting impact on me. After her death, I purposed in my heart that I will do my best to reach out to those who are overlooked or forgotten around me. As a teenager, I wasn’t the most forgiving or tolerant – I saw things in black and white with no margins for grey. However, as an adult, I grew to appreciate more the life lessons my mother taught me through her breast cancer journey in difficult circumstances.

I wish I told her how much I loved her when she left home for the last time never to return. I have since done endeavoured to tell those close to me what they mean to me. I realise only too well that life is short. Tomorrow is promised to no-one.

With respect to my big sister who I lost seventeen months ago, in some ways, the loss is still as fresh as if it was yesterday. Due to our closeness, I still catch myself reaching for the phone to share a joke or insight with her only to remember that she’s no longer here. She was my biggest cheerleader and supporter; believing in me long before I truly believed in myself.

My first book published eight months after her death is dedicated to her. It is only fitting as she epitomised fortitude and courage in the midst of dealing with metastatic breast cancer for the last five years of her life. Her death has reinforced my determination to leave a lasting legacy by doing my best to make a positive impact on all I meet.

I am so grateful that in the final days of her life, I told her how much I loved her. In that respect, I have no regrets about leaving anything unsaid.

My encouragement to you is this: value your loved ones and never take them for granted. Don’t assume they know how you feel about them – tell them and demonstrate your love in tangible ways. Once they’re gone, you can look back without regrets. Nothing can take away the bank of treasured memories they endowed you with. That will provide a measure of comfort as you carry on into the future without their physical presence.