“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” -Dr. Earl A. Grollman

My brother died when I was a sophomore at college. The news was unlike anything I have ever received in my life. Looking back, it was one of the most life-altering things that happened to me.

You never expect trauma, but it happens to everyone and in different stages of their lives.

Shock hits first. The world stops. You have no idea what to do, who you are, what’s happening anymore. You just feel so…empty.

When my brother died, I immediately forgot who I was, what I did, how and why I acted the way I did, what I thought about, etc., I lost who I was as a person.

And the strangest thing of all? I changed forever, but more on that later.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Next piles in the support, which we all need. Sometimes we can get through things alone, but that doesn’t mean we should have to.

When you know that you can’t do something by yourself, then it’s important to remember that it’s OKAY. We can do a lot on our own, but not everything. We aren’t meant to do everything by ourselves. We cling to people around us for a reason.

**If, by any chance, you don’t have the support you need, then know that support is always somewhere- you just have to find it. There are also hotlines, therapists, etc., that you can talk to any time of the day, etc., (call 1–800–273–8255 if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts)

You must remember that you are never alone. There are always people willing to help, willing to listen and be a shoulder to cry on.

I’m not sure about others, but when I lost my brother, I needed to know that he wasn’t gone forever. I needed reassurance that he didn’t just get erased from the world; from my world.

Since I was in a very vulnerable state in my life, I clung to anything that resonated with me and made me feel better. I hated the feeling of utter pain and helplessness.

But, at the same time, I also realized something important. I realized that it was up to me to make myself feel better. I knew that if I wanted to make a change, then it has to start with me.

So I began researching. I googled questions like, what happens when people die? Where do people go when they pass on? etc.,

I needed to know that he was still, somehow, here. I think that’s what others want to know when they lose someone close to them. The reassurance can be comforting.

So I began to research and the more exploration I did, the more I drifted toward Spirituality.

Spirituality resonated with me in ways I couldn’t explain during a time in my life where I was lost. It was something I needed to get through the trauma and experience.

One link after another, I ended up on an Amazon page for the book called, Echoes of the Soul, by Echo Lee Bodine. I never heard of it nor did I know who the woman was. All I knew was that the summary resonated with me and that I needed a distraction to get me through all the pain and Shiva calls that were taking place for the next week.

Little did I know that by the end of the book, I would be convinced that, a) my brother wasn’t gone forever, and b) holy moly, there’s a whole other part of this world that I never knew about! And it appears to help me with my issues! Check, please.

My whole world changed after I lost my brother because when I lost him, I lost myself too.

What I didn’t realize at that time was that I had to lose the old me to welcome an updated version of me.

So a new adventure began for me. But this time, it wasn’t going abroad to explore, it was into self-awareness and growth. It was seeing the world through a new lens and becoming a more original and rawer version of myself.

Death is terrifying. And when it happens in your world, it’s unlike anything else. Everything shifts. Change occurs with or without your approval.

But it’s how you change that teaches the biggest lesson of all. It’s how you react to the change that makes a huge difference in your life.

You decide whether you are going to let this affect you positively or negatively. You determine if you want to grow from the experience or stay where you are. You have that choice. You don’t have to be dragged down by what happened and stored in a dark hole for the rest of your life. You don’t have to feel the sadness forever, you can heal too.

Sometimes, people prolong healing because they are afraid they may forget someone. But trust me, you never forget. A smidge of pain is always there, but the memories will never fade. Everyone around me was affected, which made it even more painful. But it gets better. Don’t be afraid to heal. Don’t be afraid to love yourself and be loved extra by others when you need to the most.

Here are a few tips that helped me get through it and can hopefully help you too:

  1. Lean into your emotions: When negative things happen, they make us feel awful. We wouldn’t choose those feelings on any given day. However, sometimes we have to feel to get through; to heal. So cry it all out. Go through ten, twenty boxes of tissues if you have to. Feel the sadness of whatever you are feeling, because of the more you feel, the more you heal. Negative feelings eventually subside when you work through them.
  2. Research things that will make you feel better: For me, I resorted to Spirituality, which- in the beginning, only started with a question. In the end, however, it ended up being more about life than death. So ask questions. Research. Find things out. Go with things that resonate with your soul. You will develop an understanding through the chaos eventually.
  3. Stick with people who love you: You’re going to have a lot of tough times, especially in the beginning. Talking helps- A LOT. Find people who support you and are willing to listen. Or even just the ones who will be silent and offer a shoulder to lean on.
  4. Write it out: This is like therapy, but on paper. I didn’t start writing until a few years after my brother’s death. However, nowadays, I write everything that I am battling. It has made such an immensely positive difference in my life, I only wish I could have started sooner. It’s hands down one of the most therapeutic practices I do daily.
  5. When it comes to other people’s advice, take it with a grain of salt: Although people who love you ultimately want the best for you and want to help, not all advice works for everybody. Take the positive advice that resonates with you the most; that’s what will help a lot during your healing.
  6. You’re in charge of what happens now: Everyone is different and heals in different ways. Some need more time than others. Be easy on yourself and take your time. But also know when it’s time to get on with life. Life doesn’t stop moving even if you do. Follow your instincts; they will tell you when the time is right. Remember that how you ultimately respond to something is up to you.

I encourage you, no matter how difficult any experience is for you, to push forward. Keep going and keep fighting. After all, you’re fighting for yourself too. Envision the light at the end of the tunnel, because it’s always there if you’re heading into that direction.

I encourage you to learn from any experiences and the impacts that it has had on you and then turning them into growth. Because with each lousy experience, there is always a lesson you can learn and grow from.

Death can give you a lot of reminders. It reminds us that life is short, so do with it what you want as opposed to what others want. Take care of your mind and your body because being healthy goes a long way. Death also reminds you to treasure your loved ones. Don’t forget to tell others how much they mean to you. All people ever need is a little reminder of just how much they are loved.

My brother’s death has not only led me into the Spiritual path, but it also made me grow up. It opened up my eyes, and now I view life from a different perspective. It opened up the doorway to self-awareness and my surroundings. It was one of the most significant moments in my life, and I chose to grow through it.

Find whatever makes you feel better. Find whatever resonates with you at a time that you need the most amount of help. Find something positive to turn to that will also bring back the positivity in you.

In my opinion, the longer you prolong a lesson from being learned, the more negative circumstances you’re going to have to deal with later on until you get it. Until you adjust. Until you choose to grow.

So choose growth. Choose a more positive version of yourself.


  • Olya Barnett

    Personal Growth Coach and Writer

    Olya is a twenty-something blogger and personal-growth coach. She is the creator of www.positivitysparkles.com. Her goal is to empower people to live their best lives through positive thinking and self-growth one article at a time.