Grief & Loss – Finding the Road

By Nicolle Cantiero

I’ll never forget feeling like my life was over; I had no foundation and nothing to look forward to.  Everything seemed to be falling apart.  My health, my marriage, my family, and my job all seemed to be deteriorating.

For three years, I couldn’t sleep through the night-awful sinus problems kept me awake. I had surgery.  But I was still tired, and it got worse over the next 5 years. I would then find out that I still had sleep apnea, and needed more surgery. But in the meantime, I lost my peace and sense of well-being. All the while, I was also suffering from anxiety.  I can’t begin to describe what that was like. Just doing my work everyday became a struggle.  I couldn’t do much else.  On top of that, the sleep apnea caused my cycles to skip so I couldn’t get pregnant for all those years either.  Eventually I became so overwhelmed with trying to get through the day, that I never noticed my husband and me growing apart. My mom worried about me and gave me much reassurance and a sense of security.

Nicolle's Mom

Then my worst nightmare came true.  Mom had stage-4 breast cancer. That’s when I lost my sense of security in myself, the future, and in God.  I didn’t understand how God could let this happen.  Hadn’t my life been enough of a disaster?  And how would I survive without the one who made sense of things for me and reassured me everyday?

I couldn’t function, and isolated myself from everyone.  Guilt and regret kept me from reaching out to family and friends.  Many of them misunderstood some of my behavior during and after my mother’s passing.  I didn’t feel I could expect support as it was and now I was afraid of what they thought.

  I learned how to let go of my grief.  After two years, I realized that I had a choice, honor her by living well, or discount all the love and nurturing that she bestowed on me by wallowing in my sadness.  I chose to live with joy.    I had to decide:  grief or life.  God makes all things work for our good.  Now I know it’s true.  That’s my foundation.

I thought losing my mother would be my lowest point and most significant loss. But that loss brought serious problems to light, and hastened the inevitable. Things I thought would surely destroy me only made me stronger, and surer of my true identity. Never would I have imagined being so strong, and overcoming so much. Never would I have imagined so much good could come out of my worst nightmare. It’s all part of the plan.

Nicolle Cantiero

Please comment on Nicolle’s story below, can you relate?


4 Responses to Grief & Loss – Finding the Road

  • I lost my sister 15 years ago and feel I had learned about grief however two weeks ago I lost the love of my life. I had recently reconnected with an old boyfriend that was going through a divorce and we got very close very fast. He was my first love and it came back just like we were kids again. Then the unthinkable happened. He collapsed and died instantly, we assume of a heart attach. He was a very healthy, fit guy – 51 years old.
    I’m heartbroken and still in shock. This is very different from my sisters death. When she died I felt I had lost my childhood. Now I feel I lost my future. At my age – 49, it’s so hard to find someone. Then to find the perfect partner seemed incredible. To be walking on air one minute then thrust into such loss and shock is overwhelming. My incredible love story turned tragic.
    The difference with this loss is dramatic. I didn’t talk to or see my sister everyday so it was easy to mourn in ‘doses’ I could handle. Now I cannot get through my day. My weekends are impossible to face. My friends have been wonderful but I know I have to get through this myself. I’ve been given some tools that have greatly helped but I’m looking for more. Any advice to help with this new type of loss…the loss of my love, a partner that was my daily life and future…would help me get through this terrible time.

  • I’m so glad there is a positive ending to your journey. I just want to add, though, that at the other end of the spectrum of not being able to move beyond grief is moving on your outside while still hurting on the inside. I just blogged about my own experience at Hope it helps others who feel they’re not living up to expectations for them to “move on”.

  • This was an awesome inspiring story! It helps to know we are never alone on our journey through life.

    Thank You so much!


  • Hi Nicolle,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. I also lost my mother to breast cancer and I completely agree with you, honoring the people we lost means making the decision to live well and embodying the wonderful lessons they taught us.

    Much love,

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