We are currently 10 days post the horrific helicopter accident which stole the lives of Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter and the other passengers. In one moment, the lives of several people were forever ended. At the time I am writing this column, the cause of the crash is still unknown.

This accident has rocked our country. Most of us knew who Kobe Bryant was, we have watched him play, we have seen him share moments with his family. Regardless of our relationship with Kobe, one thing remains true, in a single moment a father and his daughter lost their lives. For those of us who are spouses and/or parents the shock of this moment is all too real. The reality of the brevity of life, the preciousness of moments, the value of time has come to a crashing standstill.

Most of us have experienced grief in some form or fashion throughout our lives. For many of us, this tragic accident will make us think of the losses we have suffered, for some the feelings of grief may rise up and be too strong to hold back. Grief can do this, one minute we are fine and the next we are struck. With the power of the hit, the wave of grief washing over us can leave us breathless, stuck in the pain, living the moment we lost our loved.

In October of 2018, I wrote a column on grief. I shared with you my heartaches and losses. Losses I still grieve today. Grief is something I struggle with daily; I feel the keen loss of many people in my heart and know the pain will never lessen. In many ways I have become accustomed to the pain and hold dear the lessons I have learned. I now understand the value of time, the value of love and always letting the people you care about know you care.

A little more than a year ago, I almost lost my dad. The months since October 2018 have not been easy, nor have they been free of loss. In shocking horror, the moment I realized my dad may not wake up from surgery the innocence of childhood vanished. With one phone call, the stability of my world was gone and somehow, through the pain and fear, I had to pull myself up and be strong for my daughter and mother. My husband ached to comfort me, but I knew the minute I allowed him to support me I would crumble. So instead, I chose to stand alone and hold my pain inside.

This practice of holding my pain in is not healthy. From an early age I developed this coping mechanism. Hold the pain in, just breathe and dig deeper, find the strength to push through and when the moment is done, fall apart. This mantra has helped through several losses, working with patients who were contemplating suicide, attempting to intervene with children walking a dangerous path, through my entire adult life. I always laugh and say it’s not the years but the miles that count. It is the miles which have etched the scars on my heart, have taught me to embrace pain and value every moment I am given.

I mourn for Kobe Bryant’s family. My heart is broken for them. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and anger they are feeling. I know some of you are hurting, more than anyone could ever imagine. Grief is not something to be ignored or overlooked. If you are struggling or hurting, please find help. There are several grief groups in Lawton and several mental health professionals. You are not alone, and there is help to manage your grief.

I love hearing from my readers, you can reach me at believestrengthpassion@gmail.com.

Sara Orellana-Paape lives in Lawton.

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