Mourning & The Holidays

The last few months have been very difficult for my family. In August, my dear brother was killed by a hit and run driver. In one second, our world was smashed into a million bleeding pieces. If it weren’t for the constant support and love we are receiving from family, friends, therapists, police officers & detectives — I know this struggle to heal would be a thousand times more difficult. I am grateful. I take things one moment at a time now. Trying very hard to not replay the events of that hellish night – trying not to get trapped in the exhausting thought that this miserable sadness will be with me for a lifetime. To BE HERE NOW, that is my goal.


This is the last time I saw my brother alive. Two days after this photo was taken, he was killed by a hit and run driver. I study the details of this photo often – mostly the way we have our arms around each other. I didn't know this would be the last time I would ever embrace his vibrant soul. I would do anything to have that moment back – I would never let him go.

The horror, anger and unimaginable pain of my brother’s murder has made it difficult to face the holiday season; to celebrate alongside such horrific loss is strange. I am trying to help myself heal and move forward through these tricky waters. This is all very new, but I am discovering the things that are working for me and I thought I would share them with you. Perhaps one of you can relate and this will help you too. To feel connected is important.

1. Take care of yourself. Keeping up with personal hygiene and health is so important. It took me a few weeks, but I eventually realized that showering, drying my hair and putting on real clothes actually made me feel better – more directed.

2. Protect yourself from disturbing news in the media. Between Ebola and ISIS, I could feel the anxiety taking over every time I got in front of my computer or TV. I decided to take a break from all news channels and shelter myself. I barely know what’s going on in the world, but I have enough on my mind for now.

3. Get help. If it weren’t for my therapist, I am certain that I would not be doing as well as I am now. It is important to talk to someone who can tell you that your fears, thoughts, actions are all normal and that you’re going to be OK.

4. Let things slide. Perfection isn’t possible, shoot for the best you can do and be easy on yourself.

5. Help others. I found this to be the most beneficial thing of all. I started volunteering at my daughter’s school on a regular basis. To get outside of my head, to think of others, to be in the presence of beautiful children — all of this has helped me feel better.

6. Change what you can, let go of what you cannot. It makes me sick to my deepest core when I think of the way my brother died — he was killed. I wanted to change that connection, I didn’t want that fact to be the first thing that came to mind when I thought of him. I decided to start committing random acts of kindness in his memory. Whether it’s holding a door for a senior citizen, paying a genuine compliment to a stranger, picking up a piece of trash from a neighbor’s lawn – every time I do something kind for another person, I quietly offer it up to my brother. It lifts my mood and warms my heart to keep his memory alive through kindness. He was such a loving and caring soul.

7. Create visual cues to keep you on track. Whether it’s a prayer, an inspirational quote, a beautiful plant — keep it in a spot where you will see it often. It will help to jog you along when you’re feeling weak.

8. Breathe. Take in long, deep breaths and let them out slowly and fully. The anxiety and sadness can strike anytime, anywhere – breathing is centering and mindful, and you can do it anywhere.

9. Put on your favorite tunes. I have found that listening to music has lifted my mood, given me energy, restored my senses — it’s a real lifesaver for me.

10. Know that you are not alone. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all… it comes with bitterest agony… perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better… and yet this is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have experience enough to know what I say.”


Thanksgiving was rough. l left three candles burning in our window – one for my mom (who passed away in 2008), one for my dad (who passed away in 2012) and one for my brother. A quiet remembrance to help me through the day.

I have found “A Sky Full Of Stars” from Coldplay to be a mood lifter for me — the lyrics apply to my current state of mind – I look for my brother everywhere now…

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one and finding the holiday season to be a painful trigger – know that you are not alone. Sending out love and peace, Camilla


  1. Jo  November 28, 2014

    So sorry to hear your news. It’s a beautiful picture of you and your brother, a real sign of your friendship.
    Come back to us when you are ready.

  2. susan  November 28, 2014

    I am so sorry for your loss

  3. Darcie  November 28, 2014

    What a soulful, sweet list of coping with loss. Lovely that you shared this…thinking of you often these days.

  4. Aunt Joan  November 28, 2014

    Camilla ,
    This has been an emotional holiday for all of us. You have expressed tips for healing very beautifully! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and growing through this tragedy as Sam was all about the healing process. Grieving is a process one must work through now or later…it can not be avoided as it will manifest in other ways in the mind and body. I love you and am with you in prayer and spirit. Blessings to you and all who have experienced the disbelief of loss. Hope and healing are possible by taking small manageable steps every day.

  5. Tanya  November 28, 2014

    What a lovely keepsake you have of your last meeting. I’m very sorry for your family’s loss.

  6. Christine  November 29, 2014

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You can’t know how timely your post is. My mother passed away suddenly in August. My father passed away 3 years ago. My brother passed away 8 years ago. November is hard — my brother died the weekend after Thanksgiving. My father was diagnosed with cancer in November….and died the following July. I just feel empty.

  7. Gail  November 29, 2014

    I am so sorry for your loss. I admire you for sharing your thoughts on how to get through such a rough time. Take care.

  8. Louise  November 29, 2014

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother! And also your parents. I know it’s hard, especially during the holidays! Thinking of you during these times!

  9. Marsha  November 29, 2014

    I missed your posts and creativity and was worried about you. So very sorry about your brother and all that you have gone through. Your sharing is very generous; thank you and God bless you and your family.

  10. kristen  November 30, 2014

    Camilla, my heart aches with what you all have been going through. There aren’t enough words to express my deepest sympathy to you. You’ve lost so many dear dear ones the last few years. Sending you a hug through my screen. Please take care. {{Hug}}

  11. Amanda  December 2, 2014

    Today is the first time I have been by myself since the passing of my father in law. He was killed in a motorcycle accident because another motorist ran out of gas. Today is the first day that I have looked at stuff online besides fb for keeping in contact with ppl, and your blog fell into my hands. It’s crazy how that happens. Your list is spot on, and although I feel guilty for doing anything and I’m so mad that the world hasn’t stopped turning even for just a moment, it reminds me that this can’t incapacitate us. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Monica  December 2, 2014

    Thank you for sharing for all those who may be missing loved ones who have passed. The holidays are extremely hard times and your wonderful/thoughtful tips will most likely touch someone and help them through. Keep up taking care of yourself and may your memories and love of all your loved ones be around you always. Your family is surrounding you with love as are your virtual ones…….

  13. Katie  December 2, 2014

    Camilla, thank you for sharing during such a difficult time. It truly shows your giving nature. Your tips for coping with your tremendous loss are so wise and helpful. You have all my sympathy and are in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. Lisa  December 2, 2014

    Camilla – holidays are hard…they are supposed to be a time for thanks, for family, happiness and giving. It is just super hard…no doubt about it. Your kindness and generous spirit have prevailed. You are an inspiration to us all. I am thinking of you often….and if thanks if it my yard you are cleaning! xo :-)

  15. Jacqui  December 6, 2014

    Camilla … my heart aches for you and the suffering that you have had to endure. Your loss is an unbearable load and i commend you for getting up every day and going about your day. Take care this holiday season and know that you are not alone, you are in our thoughts and prayers xx

  16. L.Kaldor  December 9, 2014

    Loss leaves us forever changed. I’m so very sorry to read about your brother. I know first hand how difficult it is to find new ways to celebrate after the loss of a loved one. I would like to give you a copy of my book The Angels on My Tree, it is the autobiographical story of my first Christmas without my father. It’s the book I needed to read the year he passed away.

  17. maria  December 10, 2014

    I visited your site using pinterest did not know him before. but your story moved me. especially the 10 things you listed are so important for everyone at any time of life. I will return here soon. a hug.
    maria from bologna.
    Sorry for my bad English….