Apr 13, 2023
In this poignant and heartfelt podcast episode, Aimee chats with Colin Campbell, author of Finding the Words: Working Through Profound Loss with Hope and Purpose. Colin, who experienced the tragic death of his two children, shares his personal journey. He also offers profound insights on navigating grief after profound loss and finding solace in community and traditions.
Share a heartfelt message.
After the tragic death of his two children, Colin had many messages pouring into his inbox. One of the most memorable and heartwarming came from his son’s friend, who wrote how much his son meant to him and some of his favorite memories.
“This kid knows what to do,” Colin said. “Just say how much you’re in pain over the loss, and then share a story.”
Don’t wait to reach out.
If the situation were reversed and a friend had lost their children in a car crash, Colin doesn’t think he would have reached out because of fear. Instead of leaving someone alone in their suffering, he recommends taking the braver approach letting your friend or family member know how you feel.
“When we lose someone who’s dear to us and we have an earlier profound loss, we feel lonely,” Colin said. “The idea of having a community that’s there for us is going to be helpful in those moments.”
Lean into traditions.
Colin’s wife is Jewish, and they raised their children in the Jewish tradition. Even though Colin is an atheist, he found comfort and meaning in the Jewish burial traditions. For instance, the Mourner’s Kaddish, which is a prayer said every day for the first year after the death of a loved one, helped Colin keep re-engaging with his grief rather than compartmentalize it.
“We leaned heavily on the Jewish traditions, and it really helped,” he said. “It was so helpful to share these feelings with people and have them just be validated, heard, witnessed, and then processed.”
Keep reaching out.
In the early days of grief, someone may not be feeling well enough to get out of bed or interact with people. Colin recommends reaching back out a few weeks later to see if that person is ready to talk or get together. He’s yet to hear somebody in one of his grief groups complain that they’ve gotten too much attention or love from a community.
“If you’re going to support someone in grief, it’s so important to keep reaching out,” he said. “That’s a beautiful way to support somebody because they will absolutely, at a certain point, say yes.”
Grief comes in waves.
When Colin first lost his children, he would weep, and he noticed people had a fear that he or they would cry if they talked about his kids. Although Colin still cries some days, he recognizes that crying isn’t something to be fearful of but rather a natural part of the grieving process.
“There’s that fear that if I really let myself feel these feelings, they’ll never stop, and I’ll be overwhelmed,” he said. “And that’s not how it works. Grief comes in waves. You let it take you and trust that it’s going to bring you back.”
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About Aimee and WhatFriendsDo
Aimee Kandrac is a speaker, consultant, and the co-founder and CEO of WhatFriendsDo. Her work is instrumental for organizing support during life-changing events, and she speaks to organizations about creative ways to help friends and family during times of crisis. Aimee has been recognized as a Top 50 Mompreneur by Babble.com and is the first female CEO in the state of Indiana to close a $500,000 funding round. She has been featured in Forbes, Time, the LA Times, Oprah.com, the Indianapolis Star, and more.
WhatFriendsDo is a simpler way to create organized and actionable support during a time of crisis. The free, online platform empowers healthcare facilities, HR departments, families, and friends to easily coordinate meals, errands, transportation, childcare, communication, and more for those in the midst of a life-changing event. The women-founded and women-led company started as a solution for a friend with terminal cancer. WhatFriendsDo is based out of Indianapolis.