No one will survive their journey on this earth, yet that knowledge does nothing to ease the pain of losing someone close to us. Dealing with the heartache of such a loss can be one of life’s most difficult challenges.

I do not intend to minimize the overwhelming sense of shock, pain, anger, and disbelief that can lead to profound sadness when you lose a loved one. I understand these are natural reactions to a major loss. But, when the grief subsides, it is possible to find positive things from such a difficult experience.

Some examples

I can’t think of anything more painful than losing a child. A colleague of mine lost his son in the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999. Wretched with pain, my colleague and his wife turned their attention and energy to speaking out against the senseless gun violence happening in our schools. They continue this effort today and also provide support to others who have experienced similar losses. My colleague believes he is carrying on his son’s life by speaking out.

One of my best friends and his wife lost their two-month-old baby of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) while he was taking his afternoon nap. Losing their son so inexplicably was the most horrible nightmare they had ever experienced. They emerged from their grief with the desire to raise public awareness and raise funds for critical SIDS research. Nothing could ever bring their son back, but they feel his life present in their efforts to prevent the loss of other newborns.

There are other gains from the loss of a loved one. I know of several men who shared that they were unaware they were living to please their father until their dad died. Losing their father was painful, but, for the first time, they felt free to live the life they wanted. This was a great gift to them.

I cried hard when one of my career mentors dropped dead from a heart attack. I relied on his leadership and counsel so much that his death left me feeling disoriented and abandoned. When my grief subsided, I understood that his loss was my call to maturity. It was now my turn to carry on the message and culture he had taught me. That is how his life goes on in me.

Loss of a dear one, if we allow it, can be a great gift. We can take the lessons we learned from them and use them to create a greater good. I believe this is how our loved ones remain with us as spirit guides. This is how we become a Phoenix, the bird from Greek mythology that arises from the ashes of its predecessor.


Dealing with grief is an important part of life. This does not imply that we should feel fortunate when the loss of someone close to us has left us feeling devastated, but it is important to consider there is a gain in this loss.

We are meant to evolve from all of our experiences, even from a painful one. Great pain cracks open the shell of our ego so that our authentic self can emerge. Take heart, somewhere in your grief you will see how the universe is still conspiring with you. Always remember that you have not lost these loved ones altogether, they will always remain connected to your soul.

For those of you whose wound from a loss like this is still fresh in you, know I hold you close to my heart.

Going through a difficult life transition?

You might benefit from reading my latest memoir, Catch and Release: One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life. It is my story of starting life over in my sixties. Download a PDF of the first 5 chapters of Catch and Release for free.  To order your inscribed copy in either hardcover or paperback, click here ( Catch and Release is also available on Kindle here ( You can also subscribe to my free weekly newsletter on my website and receive motivation and encouragement to help you on your way to recovery.


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