Growing Through Grief

Growing Through Grief


It was 3 years ago today. I called my Mom and she didn’t answer the phone. That in itself wasn’t too unusual since I just spoke to her the night before, but when I tried to reach her later in the day and she didn’t answer again, I knew something was wrong.

Before the end of the day her body will be taken to a funeral home, I will have talked to a dozen people whose names and faces I’ll never remember or recognize, I will have googled cardiac arrest repeatedly, and be crying so hard while begging God to bring her back, that I actually think I’ll hyperventilate.

When you lose someone incredibly close to you, it’s as if a screen that’s been shielding you from the world – a protective screen you didn’t even know was there – is suddenly gone, along with the person you love. You see things more clearly, feel things more deeply, hurt harder, but also love stronger. You’re forced to grow, forced to reflect – the death of one person can create a domino effect in your life.

And that certainly was the case for me. I’m not an expert on grief and I’m not someone who is even fully healed from my Mom’s death, but I have learned the value and power of living deliberately.

Because the former screen that shielded me, also allowed me to believe in illusions. The Illusion that time isn’t limited. That ‘now’ will never come to an end. That negative emotions like insecurity and jealousy are acceptable, and that fitting in is more important than being your authentic self. Those illusions are gone.

I’ve learned we have choice for a reason. We get to choose who and what we give our attention to. Choice is powerful. When we choose, we focus, and what we focus on determines our satisfaction in life. Half-lived lives happen when we focus on things that make us feel unsatisfied.

Learning this lesson changed my focus – personally and professionally. I rebranded and relaunched my own beauty company after taking time away to process grief. And I learned the value of mental health and wellbeing. Genuine Glow now makes a nutrient-rich exfoliator, and promotes the benefits of inner wellbeing. We highlight and discuss the importance of inner beauty while making an outer beauty skin care product. I don’t believe those 2 things have to cancel each other out.

Genuine Glow represents a 360-degree Glow. An equal combination of inside and outside beauty. To do that, we recognize that feeling good on the inside is just as important as looking good on the outside. We won’t compromise one for the other. We are working to reimagine beauty.


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: WebsiteInstagramFacebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

The Second Wave of Grief

The Second Wave of Grief

First you lose your loved one, then you lose yourself. A personal essay about grief.


My Mom died two and a half years ago. It was sudden. Without warning she went into cardiac arrest in her home early on a Monday morning. Although I remember everything from that day, it took me several hours to actually understand what was happening – that she was dead. That this was permanent.

Once your brain is able to process that you have lost someone extremely close to you, like a parent, the world turns gray. Just like that, in an instant. Everything loses its color and vibrancy. I have had very close family members die, like my grandparents, and I have mourned and missed them. But something different happens when you lose someone who was a part of you, your foundation breaks.

The pieces that made you who you are, are shattered. It is as if a bomb exploded inside of you and your soul, your spirit, your heart, your brain – everything about you is in too many pieces to put back together.

I remember thinking that I would never be able to feel happiness. I could not imagine ever being able to laugh, enjoy, or feel excitement again. And it does stay like that for a while. But slowly emotions begin to return. You find yourself enjoying a TV show, or laughing on a phone call with a friend. You experience the necessary firsts. The first birthdays, holidays, and everything in between without your loved one. You are told the first year is always the hardest, and you believe it.

As more time passes your new routine becomes habit, and you manage better every day. The tears lessen, you can speak about your loved one without as much sadness, and you begin to notice there are parts of you healing. You have made it through your first year.

But a new form of grief arises. One that no one warns you about and it was not mentioned in the bereavement books you read. This time you have to grieve yourself, or rather the person you used to be.

The pieces of you that were shattered have been stitched back together, but not all of them back in the same place as before. You realize you are fundamentally different. You probably look the same, you may even seem the same to friends and family, but on the inside you are a new person.

Your reactions to situations are different. Priorities have been rearranged. There are some things you no longer care about, and new things that cause your emotions to stir. Relationships with people you have known for years may now seem hollow, and you crave a deeper connection than that relationship can provide. You talk to some close friends less than before. An extreme sensitivity to certain topics is awakened in you, but there is also dismissiveness to things you once tolerated. Preferences and interests change. You are essentially relearning life – relearning who you are – all over again.

I was not prepared for this side effect after my Mom’s death, this second wave of grief. I did not know I would have to figure out my emotional responses to everyday situations all over again, and I mourned who I used to be. I mourned the carefree version of myself who never seemed to have a worry. The person who assumed everything would work out. The person who enjoyed adventure more than companionship, and who seemingly had more friendship options because depth of character was not as important as it is now. The person who was not as sensitive to death, illness, suffering, or inequality in the world. The person who infrequently cried. The person who did not know how temporary life actually is.

In many ways this relearning can be positive once you are able to regain your footing. Ultimately our choices become more precious and our priorities become clearer.

When your life has been hit with loss, you understand there is pain that comes with it and you can share what you are feeling with others. Once the established ‘appropriate amount of time’ has passed and people stop asking how you are, that is when you realize you are not the same. Experiences and once common happenings feel different. Your reaction, your feelings, and your emotional responses are new and unknown to you. You cannot trust that the life you had built for yourself will provide you with what you need. You cannot expect your old life to bring you new forms of satisfaction. And you cannot predict how you will feel about anything until you are feeling it. You have to mourn the old you and accept this new version. Accept that at your center of being, at your core, you are changed forever.


Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn 

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

♦ Note: Genuine Glow is a brand meant to complement your lifestyle. Our company and employees views do not necessarily reflect or agree with every article we publish. We do however believe that open communication and honest expression is a beneficial tool that can be used for healing, growth, and connection.

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