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How I Found Grace in Grief.

33 Heart it! Heather Aimee Land 6.5k
March 29, 2018
Heather Aimee Land
33 Heart it! 6.5k

I find myself only days away from my brother’s one-year death anniversary.

He died on April Fool’s Day last year.

The morning started with a text from his new wife telling us he had been in a terrible car crash and was at the hospital. Scrambling to wake up, I called my parents in a frantic state as I shouted, “Oh my god, oh my god,” repeatedly until my mom finally picked up the phone and tried to calm me down enough to tell me it was an April Fool’s joke.

I was stunned. What? Why?

My mother explained to me that my brother thought it would be funny to send us that text. Of course, it wasn’t funny at all—and when he called on the other line, I made sure to tell him just that. He’d never made a sick joke like that before, and it was very confusing, but I eventually allowed myself to laugh it off and get on with my day.

Five hours later, he would die in a fatal car crash.

Grace is defined as “simple elegance” or “refined movement” and includes the synonyms: poise and honor. A year of grief has taught me how to find grace in the most horrific moments—the times when I felt my life was unraveling and that the sadness would surely eat me alive.

From deep down, a place of strength emerged that I had never accessed before. I thought I had struggled previously—that I had seen the darkest pits of my soul and had survived long enough to understand how my emotions manifested in the face of fear, depression, and sadness—but until my brother died, I didn’t know grief at all. I didn’t know how deep it could reach or what grace it would take to survive it.

Trevor was my best friend. He was my closest ally, and he was part of my heart. We had been side by side all of our lives. He was an alcoholic, and he had been battling his addiction and his darkness all his 41 years. We’d all imagined he could potentially die this way, but we didn’t know it would really happen.

As time went on, I processed the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. At times, I didn’t think I could get past any of the stages—but then I realized that I would never “get past,” but instead I had to fully get to know each stage, climb to the bottom of each stage, and explore it fully before I could gain any refinement in my emotions, poise in my heart, and honor in my memory of my brother.

A year later, as I sit here writing this, I can say that I’ve done just that. It hasn’t been easy—in fact, this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever have to endure. The pain I felt—and still face, grappling with the existential crisis which is death—is indescribable in a way.  Words cannot explain the distance the mind and the heart can coexist in.

I still cannot swallow that I will have to live the rest of my life without being able to speak to my brother again. This is the hardest part I’ve had to deal with. I can accept not seeing him, but I can’t accept not speaking to him. I have so much to tell him; we were supposed to grow old together.

But then, I stop. I remember to breathe—and somehow, I regain that grace I mentioned before. The poise comes over me, and I vow to honor Trevor by living in happiness and not sadness. Despite his demons, he was the happiest person you could ever know. He met every day with a sense of hope and excitement.

I am surviving this grief with grace—but I can’t give myself all the credit for doing so, because I know I owe it mostly to my brother, who continues to teach me even in his death. I cling to the Tao of Trevor daily, and I read his journals slowly, as I know this is the last conversation we will ever have.



5 Things I’ve Learned about Surviving the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death.


Author: Heather Aimee Land
Image: Flickr/Jem Yoshioka
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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33 Heart it! Heather Aimee Land 6.5k
33 Heart it! 6.5k

Quin Bizek Mar 29, 2018 1:46pm

I see and respect your positive energy.

    Heather Aimee Land Mar 29, 2018 2:24pm

    Thank you so much

Jennifer Freeman Apr 1, 2018 3:33am

My brother was my best friend also and commited suicide 3 years ago. This article was right on point. I too after much pain has found grace. Thank you so much for sharing

    Heather Aimee Land Apr 1, 2018 9:11pm

    I couldn’t imagine suicide, although my brother driving drunk was a suicide of sorts. My heart is with you on this journey of being left behind. May we continue to have grace. XOXO,

Lana Gonzalez Balyk Apr 1, 2018 2:26pm

Thanks for writing this. Oddly, my brother died 4 days after yours, and struggled with similar issues as yours. Coming up to the day, with all the thoughts and feelings rising, it is good to come across your article.

    Heather Aimee Land Apr 1, 2018 9:14pm

    I am here right beside you in the left behind. Obviously the universe aligned us to share support and grace. I hope that you can find a way to have peace on your anniversary. I went to the mountains with my husband and dogs and hiked a bit and had a picnic. Nature is nurturing.

    Lots of love,


hutton.industriesinc Apr 1, 2018 8:31pm

So beautifully written. Thank you for showing me the way and how to be strong. I miss him so much. I love you Sis. Always in my heart. Your other brother from another mother! Clint

    Heather Aimee Land Apr 1, 2018 9:12pm

    Gosh Brother, You just took my breathe away with this beautiful comment. Thank you for taking the time to be with me today and to read my words. I truly believe they are Trevor-sent. I love you big brother of mine.

sleebirch Apr 2, 2018 4:38pm

Thank you

monibar86 Apr 3, 2018 1:37am

Grief is a beast and yet here you are trying to make the best out of it. I admire your strength and I’m sorry you even had to learn to gracefully survive grief. I love you cuddlebug

    Heather Aimee Land Apr 3, 2018 5:23pm

    Oh friend…what a beautifully written comment to me. I love you so dearly. I know you understand what I have been through. I have so much more empathy for you than you will ever know. Love you cuddlebug.

MARIANA WIRTH Apr 3, 2018 8:33am

Dear Heather, in October 2016 I have past for the same experience you had and it was as shocking and hard as you describe. I thank you for put it into words, the sadness that overcomes is indescriptible. I am still going through, but as you said, We have to honor their persons trying to live with joy and love. Love, Mariana.

d_jakowenko Apr 3, 2018 7:38pm

Wow, that’s crazy. My condolences

Miriam Byrne Apr 6, 2018 11:52am

Beautifully written, from your heart. I like the way you connect grace to grief. My husband died when he was 40 by suicide and I really agree with you on it being hard to accept you won’t speak to thrn again on the earthly planes…sometimes I would think oh I must tell him that only to remember he’s gone. The finality can be hard to process. You’ve gone through the first year strong and graceful. Be proud of yourself.

    Heather Aimee Land Apr 6, 2018 7:00pm

    I’m so sorry about your husband. It’s been such a hard year and it’s been especially helpful to meet other grace warriors. Lots of love to you….


megyerkes Apr 8, 2018 9:16pm

Hi Heather, You live so close, yet we never get together. I’m so glad I got to read you article. I could see what a heartfelt person you are. And how you turned from tragedy to spirt. I now know why my nephew married you. What a rich life you must share together. I would love to get together and walk dogs with you and Calub. Thanks for sharing your talent. Grief is comforting when it is shared. My Dad would have loved you! Auntie meg

Ruth Krug Sep 6, 2018 9:34am

Beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing your grace with us.

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