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Finding Peace After Loss

When my best friend died, there were four things that helped me find peace

How do you press forward and find peace when facing grief? Many BYU-Pathway students ask themselves this question. I did too! After returning from my mission, while I was still adjusting to being a student again and making plans for the future, my best friend was killed in a car accident.

Following this loss, I questioned the meaning of life and the purpose of mine specifically, and I learned a lot about enduring grief. Hopefully these tips can help you too.

1. Allow yourself to grieve

BYU-Pathway student Beth Kirby and her mother
Beth (left) took time to grieve and successfully completed her degree.

Ignoring emotions will not help you through them. Allow yourself to experience your feelings! This includes seeking professional help if you need it.

BYU-Pathway student Beth Kirby learned to do this when, a semester before she earned her associate’s degree, her mother passed away. She felt she needed to take a brief break from school to focus on dealing with the stress of her mother’s passing and working full-time but was soon able to return to her online program and earn her degree.

2. Lean on Jesus Christ and His Atonement

When you experience grief, life may seem very unfair and lonely, but you can find peace in the promise that “all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” 1
1. “Lesson 2: The Plan of Salvation,” Preach My Gospel, (2004), 52
Christ can help you feel less alone — He knows what you’re feeling because He has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” 2 and with Him “we are healed.”
picture of Jesus and Mary
Jesus Christ heals and comforts us in times of trial.

The Lord will strengthen you as you rely on Him. When Lynne Anderson’s husband was dying and she was still trying to complete her school work, she noted, “I often felt that I could only complete one more assignment or fix one more meal or get up early one more day, and then I would need to quit. But then, somehow, I had the capacity to do more. I was able to get by with less sleep, finish assignments in less time, and still take care of my family…. My faith in Jesus Christ grew, and I learned to trust Him when things seemed impossible.”

3. Lean on others

 Malvin Kadzomba, a BYU-Pathway student and his gathering group
Malvin’s gathering group supported him as he grieved the loss of his daughter.

There are many people who would be happy to support you through your grief: friends, family, ward members, gathering group members, service missionaries, classmates, and instructors.

Just before joining BYU-Pathway, Malvin Kadzomba’s first child passed away, and he found an excellent support system in his gathering group. He said, “[They] gave me a shoulder to lean on. It gave me that comfort, that hope, that Christ loves us and that He loves me personally.… Even as you face difficult challenges in BYU-Pathway, just stay true to what you’re doing and hold on to the iron rod.”

4. Look for the good

President Russell M. Nelson, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once taught that “the only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” 3
3. Russell M. Nelson, “Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992, 72–74
Grief simply comes because you have the capacity to feel love and joy. Immerse yourself in this kind of love by participating in things that help you feel God’s love for you.
Susan with her children, Jae and Lindsay
Susan with her children, Jae and Lindsay

For Susan Brionez , being with her children was one of those things. She said, “I couldn’t continue to be angry after my husband died because I had children who depended solely on me for their care. They were the blessing I needed at that time.… They made life bearable for me.” For Beth , education reminded her of God’s love! Soon after joining BYU-Pathway, Beth felt God’s love, which was something she hadn’t felt in a long time.

Stay strong and remember that many people are cheering you on, including our prophet. In his April 2021 General Conference message, President Nelson said, “I marvel at your resilience and spiritual strength in the face of illness, loss, and isolation. I pray constantly that, through it all, you will feel the Lord’s unfailing love for you.” 4
4. Russel M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Liahona, May 2021, 101–104

After losing my friend, as I learned to let myself grieve, lean on others and the Savior, and find the good, I felt this “unfailing love” President Nelson speaks about. While I still miss her, I am able to move forward with hope and peace because of these principles.