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Life After Loss: Lessons of Grief and Support

Mental Health
Author name: Lisa O'Neil, System Director, Marketing & Brand Management

“The more you love someone, the more you grieve.” 

Unfortunately, this saying became real to me when I lost my father on Dec. 19, 2020.  I am sharing my story to offer empathy and support if you may have also suffered the loss of a loved one due to the pandemic, mental health issues, or other reasons.

First, a little about my dad. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have him as a father. He was my biggest supporter and a stalwart confidante throughout my life. 

He taught me many life lessons, such as the value of hard work, loyalty, humility, resilience, and showing up every day to give the world your best. His lessons were acts of love, I believe, and that’s what I’ll miss most about my father, his unconditional love for me.

I am comforted knowing that he, a man of strong faith, rests in a better place with his parents, sister and friends.

Grief is so complicated. On some days, I am graced by small moments of peace over my father’s passing. But on others, I am completely bewildered with raw emotions, as if his passing had happened only the day before.

I reached out to our Lee Health experts on mental health and spiritual support to learn more about grief. 

“Attachment, the way we connect and disconnect to and from one another, is the most determinative dynamic in human development. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in our attachments to our parents, those loving others who brought us into this strange world where we met others and, by extension, ourselves,” explains Paul Simeone, vice president, mental and behavioral health.

“Under the best of circumstances, losing a parent is complicated,” Paul adds. “When the relationship was good, the loss is like an earthquake that shatters our sense of safety and security.”

And how long does the journey of grief last, I asked Mike Warthein, system director, spiritual services.

“Grief is something you will never get over but I guarantee you will get through it,” Mike says. “I’ve adopted this in the light of people giving bad advice of ‘it’s been months, just get over it.’ Getting ‘over it’ is irrational and impossible. ‘Getting through’ gives one direction and hope.”

Someone once compared the grief process to the tides of the ocean, an observation that resonated with me here in our coastal community of Southwest Florida:

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."

That sounds like a life lesson my father would have taught me.

If you are dealing with loss and grief and would like more information on Lee Health’s bereavement services, contact Spiritual Services at 239-343-5199.

  • Spiritual Services

    Lee Health cares for the spiritual and emotional needs of you and your family at every hospital location, staffed by compassionate and certified chaplains and other experts.