Coping with Loss and Coming Together


Sunflowers are blooming in southern Minnesota as people from all across the state come together, taking pictures, and witnessing the beauty. Families from all over the midwest came to Albert Lea to take pictures and share their stories on the Fish Sunflowers Facebook page. “The goal of this group is to spread sunshine and positivity,” said Johnny Fish, co-founder of Fish Sunflowers.

The passing of a family member, a friend or even just someone you occasionally see in the hallway is never easy to deal with. Grief, by definition, is  deep sorrow, especially caused by loss. 

I spoke with the grief counselors who visit Albert Lea High School when the passing of a student occurs. I learned a lot from speaking to them and so could many other people who are struggling with loss. 

When it comes to grieving, there is no wrong way to do it. That’s the same with learning to move on, everybody does it differently. Some people may feel pain and that loss right away. Others may feel numb, but suddenly, a few weeks, maybe months or even years, later they experience that pain and sorrow. 

When it comes to getting over grief, you can’t. As dismal as that may seem, it’s true. It’s a long process which you have to overcome. Everyone copes with death in a different way. The first step is to accept it. This can arguably be the most difficult step in the long process. You have to accept that they are gone. 

Another strategy for coping with loss is to talk about what you are feeling and about who or what you lost. This can be a challenging part, but it is an important step in the healing process. Whether you talk to a counselor, a family member, a friend or even just write your thoughts in a journal– it can help you process what you are thinking. 

It’s important to know that whatever you are feeling is perfectly valid. Whether it is anger, sadness, or a sense of hopelessness, you should know that you don’t need to justify your thoughts or feelings. Some people have the urge to push others away, and although, it can be good to think about things and process things independently, having a good support system around you can make this journey easier to get through. 

When dealing with certain negative emotions, it can be beneficial to channel that energy into something productive or something you’re passionate about. Examples of this could be exercising, painting, gardening, or listening to music. Music is a powerful resource when it comes to coping. Whether it brings you back to happy memories, allows you to feel emotions or create something positive, music can help ease the pain and assist in the healing process. People who like to write songs may find it helpful to put what they are feeling into lyrics of a song. This can also be another way of journaling.

When it comes to comforting someone who is grieving, the most important thing you can do is listen and be there for them. They may not want to speak about it, but it’s important that you let them know that they can always talk to you. It’s okay if what they are dealing with is too heavy for you. In this scenario, you could recommend that they speak to a counselor. Many people are afraid to go talk to someone they don’t know, so offer to go with them. Even if you are not a part of the conversation, having a recognizable face around can help comfort the person who is grieving. 

It’s important that now more than ever we come together as a community. Communities all across Minnesota have been coming together and ‘spreading the sunshine’ through sunflowers. Fish Sunflowers is a project that has been planting sunflower fields across Minnesota for the last five years. They dedicate each field to individuals or groups of people who have passed. Albert Lea’s field has been dedicated to all the young people in that area who have lost their lives. This was the first field in southern Minnesota and it became open to the public on Sept. 16. The fields typically stay in bloom for around 10 days. The fields are free to visit and are open to the public and are located at 72056 255th St, Albert Lea.

Everyone is encouraged to visit and take in the natural beauty and positivity. 


Grief Counselor Contacts: 

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]