Secondary Losses During a Grief Journey

Last week, we were in Cooperstown, NY. Hundreds of 12 year-olds from across the country traveled to Cooperstown All Star Village to compete on the Little League diamond one last time.

Among having fun with his friends, meeting new people, and playing the game he loves, Nick had one very specific goal. He wanted to hit a home run out of the park. Over the last month or so, Nick was a fixture at the fields around our house. He practiced for hours leading up to the trip.

I was nervous because I knew Nick would be disappointed if he didn’t accomplish his goal. The first day he had some nice hits, but didn’t really get close to hitting it out of the park. It was the first inning of the first game on the second day that Nick hit his first home run.

I was flooded with emotions. While my first thought was how proud I was of Nick for working hard to accomplish his goal, my thoughts quickly turned to Mike. Mike never hit a home run when he was Nick’s age. He was a home run hitter in high school and college, but never in Little League. I could only imagine how proud he’d be of his son.

I remember during a class at the Children’s Room, the facilitator talked about secondary losses after a death. The death of a loved one is the primary loss. But throughout the rest of the surviving loved ones’ lifetimes, there are secondary losses.

For us, this monumental moment in Nick’s life was a secondary loss. Mike not being able to experience this milestone with us. This will continue to happen throughout our lives. It’s just another part of the grief journey that one may not expect.

I’m so grateful for the people at the Children’s Room for identifying this aspect of grief. I’m now able to expect and prepare for these losses. I can be gentle with myself when my family encounters these situations.


One bag went out last week to a woman who lost her husband five months ago. I hope our bag gives her an emotional boost.

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