OPINION: Grieve your losses: Embrace the process, someday you won’t regret it


Wren Johnson

Illustration depicting Emmie Boese’s column on grief.

My life was turned completely upside down on March 8. The man I loved and thought would always be with me passed away.

Kyle was a healthy 23-year-old. He worked long shifts as a manager in the lumber yard at Menards  — even in poor weather conditions. He was resilient and strong. Why he had to go so soon and leave me, his family, friends, and co-workers is beyond my understanding.

I was in Fort Worth, Texas to cover the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. My dad told me he passed while I was sitting in the medical room of Dickies Arena. I was surrounded by my friend and co-worker, the athletic director, and emergency personnel staff.

I was devastated and in shock. After some family friends came to pick me up from the arena, I remember I texted my mom to ask if she was sure Kyle was gone.

When I got home the next day, I was surrounded by Kyle’s family and my family. Still in shock, I talked about his memory, but it was like I had this hope that Kyle was still here, and he’s going to text me “I love you, honey.”

Until I saw his face in person, that’s when it started to settle in. I started to become angrier. I was sad. I felt alone. I was angry at God for taking away the love of my life with the snap of a finger.

After his funeral, I started to feel empty, doomed and hopeless.

I used to tell Kyle, “I don’t know what I would do without you.” He would tell me, “You would be okay” or “You’ll make it through.” I guess he was right because he’s not here, and I’m still here, living in what feels like survival mode.

I know people say losing someone or going through grief is hard. To be honest, it’s hard and then some. After the funeral is the worst part. You finally go back to normal life yet somehow you are still grieving.

After his death, I became angry and felt survivor’s guilt for being alive while Kyle wasn’t. I’m the one with an autoimmune disease, yet my boyfriend had to go.

However, not only do I have Kyle’s memory and the amazing time we had together, but he also has left an amazing legacy on my life. He helped me learn how to have confidence in myself on the inside and outside. He taught me responsibility when it comes to money. He helped me make new friends. I’ve gained friends from his circle of friends, his family and coworkers.

When grieving the loss of a loved one, give yourself grace because it’s going to be a lifelong process.

The first few days after his funeral, I could barely get out of bed. I would hold his sweatshirt and cry until I couldn’t breathe. I felt alone and scared. I told my parents nobody can help me because they can’t bring Kyle back.

That’s when I started to tell myself, “Get out of the house. Kyle would want you to keep living even though you don’t feel like it.”

As time goes on, I try my best to think about how Kyle blessed my life. Even though I am mad that he’s not here. He will always have a piece of my heart and will always be my first love.

More than 400 people were at Kyle’s funeral. That speaks to  the impact he had on others. He knew how to connect with just about anyone.

He was a friend to everyone, and he was kind, thoughtful, selfless and the list goes on forever.

When I told him I have rheumatoid arthritis, he looked it up and learned all he could about it. He took me to and from medication infusions and made sure I got back into my house safely. Kyle was always there for me when I had a bad day or when I was in a lot of pain from my arthritis. He made me feel like the most special girl in the world.

Starting the Healing Process

Reach for help from loved ones. One of the things that’s helped me start to heal is spending time with those that knew Kyle and that love me.

Find hobbies that you enjoy to help cope and keep your mind busy. I enjoy taking my dog on walks and coloring. Some hobbies me and Kyle used to do together are triggering, so I’ve been easing back into them.

If you are a student, ask for accommodations and deadline extensions from your professors, so you can take care of yourself while still completing your degree.

Cry when you want to cry. Don’t blame or shame yourself for your loved one’s death. When you feel angry that they are gone, allow yourself to feel angry. Living with built up emotions will only make you feel worse.

Honor their memory in whatever way you can. Kyle’s death is unique and personal to me. We were in love, and he was my boyfriend, but we were not married.

Someday, I will have to move on, and I’m not ready yet and that’s okay. But, I know he was put into my life for a reason.

Kyle is a part of my story. I’m slowly accepting his death, and he’s in heaven with the one he called his lord and savior.

One verse from my faith that keeps popping up is that “the peace of God will surpass all understanding and guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Obviously, if you aren’t religious that’s okay. My faith is just one thing that sometimes helps me remain hopeful throughout the grieving process.

It’s okay to miss dead loved ones and especially to feel sad. It’s how you know you had something special with them.

Resources for grief and loss: 



Wichita State Counseling and Prevention Services 

Good Grief of Kansas

SOMA Therapy 

Friends for Survival Hotline 

ICT Counseling