From Loss to L.I.F.E.: Grief Impacts Us in Many Ways

With a new chapter opening in my life, memories of those the community has lost resurface. This is not a moment to take for granted.


My house has been chaos for a couple of weeks now.

There could ultimately be a lot of reasons chaos would occur in a two-bedroom upper half of a duplex, but the reason this time around is that my boyfriend and I have become homeowners.

I'm surrounded by boxes as we speak.

It's a bittersweet moment in life — I'm excited for our new pad (I even bought address labels that say that) but also nostalgic for the time I've had in this apartment. 

While reminiscing, a thought flashed into my mind that I just couldn't ignore. I remembered doing a story about Port's Eric McLean, who died not even two months ago after a 9-year battle with cancer.

I remembered reading in his obituary:

"His greatest desire was to do the normal things in life like mowing the yard or taking care of his house."

I remembered watching his "Goodbye" video, and crying.

The thing he wanted most is the one I am about to have, and I couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt and grief. While I'm excited to embark on the journey before me, I shouldn't take it for granted.

McLean was just 28 years old, and had married his wife only just more than a year before his death.

What's more, my thoughts continued, are the so many families and friends that lost someone this year in tragic ways. As a journalist, it's been emotionally taxing to bring the news of these horrible events to the community. It's been more emotionally taxing to talk with family and friends in hopes of memorializing the ones we have lost. 

But the emotions I feel are not even comparable to what those close to these recently perished feel. Listening to the real tears on the other end of the phone line is proof.

And as I remember these hardships, and move forward with the next chapter in my life — I looked for a way to capture the moment in honor of those that are no longer.

McLean had been active in a program his family created: L.I.F.E., a nonprofit organization that focuses on raising money for cancer patients in need and research in hopes of finding a cure and raising awareness. After McLean's death, I purchased a shirt from the organization as a way to give back, and memorialize the reportedly great man I never met.

As I sort through the boxes, I'll be wearing my L.I.F.E. shirt — not taking anything for granted and sending my thoughts to family and friends who are missing their loved ones.

In Memory:

  • Eric McLean
  • Tyler Buczek
  • Peter Dougherty
  • Heather Bejma
  • Tim Karrels
  • Kelly Phillips
  • Sara Pujanauski
  • Stephen Miller
  • Jayme Ceplina
  • Nicholas Snow

Please feel free share memories of your lost loved ones in the comments.


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