The loss of a family member is one of the hardest emotional experiences we ever have to endure. The death of my oldest brother came with its own unique set of thoughts and feelings.

It hit me like a ton of bricks and I keep wondering if I will ever feel the same again. My heart feels broken and I keep remembering all the times and emotions we shared over the years. He was my oldest sibling and the one who set the tone for the rest of my brothers and me in the dynamics of our family’s interactions.

My brother, Bob, recently passed away after a long health battle. His death was not unexpected but I guess I never fully accepted that he wouldn’t win this battle as he had done so many times in the past. He would make it through this scare as he did the others.

He did not!

My brother was bigger than life to me. He was the one who set the standard for the rest of us to follow. He was the one I called in college when I needed to just hear his sage advice or sharp retort or request help with the money for the sorority initiation fee.

You see I had experienced this feeling of loss once before, when my youngest brother died at the age of 33 several years ago. And now I am going through it again. Only this time, it is our “leader” who has passed on. The “rule-maker,” the first child and the one we all looked up to.

I am overwhelmed with sadness, loss, and mad as hell that I won’t see him again.

But I also know that these feelings will allow me to find peace and love in my heart again as they did when my baby brother passed on.

I know that it was time for him to leave his pain behind and depart from us, and even though his death leaves a void in my heart and my life, I know that his spirit will always live inside me.

So why am I sharing this?

Because I have found that death has a way of changing you. It may not happen all at once, but when you look back at that moment in time you realize that the person you become after a death may look different than the person you were before.

I am not that person anymore. My middle brother and I are all that is left in what I used to think was a big, rowdy, fun-loving family. But we have each other and that is my saving grace. Our elderly mother has now out-lived 2 children. I cannot even imagine the pain of that kind of loss. My pain is bad enough.

I know grief intimately! But I am also filled with happy memories and some sad regrets. I know life will get better and my heart will heal over time.

And, I will always remember my older brother as he was throughout our life—that strong, smart leader who made us all want to be in his light!


  • Jan Molino

    President & CEO -

    Jan Molino is the President and CEO of the consulting firm, Aspire Ascend, LLC based in Washington, DC. Bringing her unique combination of corporate and non-profit management experience to the firm, she focuses on providing a comprehensive portfolio of career building, board development services and coaching programs to enhance the success of women in leadership positions and build power as a female executive. She works with executive women across the full spectrum of industries, businesses, organizations and the nonprofit arena who aim to build lasting legacies of outstanding boardroom and C-suite performance, delivering board development, leadership training, executive coaching, career management, Women’s Leadership Forums and public speaking on women in leadership.