The loss of a loved one is devastating and dealing with the grief is a complex process, but two sisters who’ve both been touched by tragedy are on a mission to help others heal their hearts
Erica Honore’s 10-year-old son Austin drowned on a boating trip with her husband on Father’s Day weekend in 2006. He left a lasting impact and Honore recently reminisced on his life on what would have been his 24th birthday.
“I woke up looking at pictures smiling, remembering the times that I had with him,” said Honore.
It was Honore’s older sister, Sharon Brubaker, who had to break the catastrophic news.
“I was thinking I don't know anything about grief,” said Brubaker. “What are we going to do? How am I going to help her? Because at that moment, I thought I needed to fix her. I thought, OK she's broken, I need to help her.”
The sisters ended up founding an educational program to learn how to navigate the grief and began helping others find their way through the pain.
But in 2015, the family experienced another loss. Honore’s other son, Donovan, died in a motorcycle accident, two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
“The injustice of the fact that I had lost not only another child but my friend,” said Brubaker. “I fought against it. I tried to stuff the feelings. I tried to not. I pushed back against everything I knew to be true as a grief specialist.”
Together, the sisters worked through another tragedy forming a new program around grief and loss. The program is offered to anyone over social media, podcasts and counseling sessions.
“The most amazing thing that I think a lot of people don't understand,” said Brubaker. “Grief is not just for death. Grief is any loss that takes place in your heart.”
Divorce, loss of a job or a broken relationship – all cause pain, the sisters say.
“I have friends who've lost spouses and I thought this is not comparable,” said Tamra Mosse, a grief recovery program participant.
For Mosse, the grief came from choosing to sever ties with her biological father.
“I was grieving the loss of a father who's still alive,” said Mosse.
It even includes losing someone you may not know personally. The death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant was a shock to millions.
“I didn't know Kobe personally. Other than I live in L.A., but my heart was broken.”
The sisters stress that it’s important to find a partner, one who will listen.
“Just listen, because it's through the talking and saying it out loud that they start to go OK. Their heart and their brain start to kind of line up,” said Honore.