Survivng the Loss of Loved One

"On July 23, Johnny got up, and he gave me a kiss, and told me he loved me and walked out the door," says Sylvia of her husband of seven years. "His mother called and told me he was in an accident, and I told her he would be fine. About an hour later, the coroner came to my house and confirmed that it was my husband and that he was dead."


Sylvia describes the accident. "His truck hit the guardrail and went down the embankment. It flipped into the lake," she recalls. As a result, her husband drowned.


The mother of two " soon-to-be three " is having a difficult time accepting reality. "Even though I've gone through the funerals and gone through everything, it doesn't feel real," Sylvia says. "Now, all I want to do is just stay in bed, but I know I have to get up and get the girls ready for school."

Sylvia told her daughters about their father's accident. "I explain to them that Daddy has gone to heaven. They speak to him every night in their prayers. They're not understanding that he's not coming back," she says.  

Feelings of loneliness often overcome Sylvia. "Two days out of the week, I go straight to the cemetery and just sit up there [and] try to feel close to him, and after that, I'm back home alone," she shares. "I don't even know how to think about the baby that's coming. She will never have touched him, seen him, or had him hold her."


The accident has tested Sylvia's faith. "Here was this good man who lived every day to take care of his kids and do right by me," she laments. "I went to church after it happened, and I was so angry just sitting in church. People tell me, ‘It's OK. It's going to be OK, because I don't see how, and I don't see how it can ever be OK."

"I am so, so sorry for your loss," Dr. Phil tells Sylvia. "What has been the hardest thing to wrap your mind around since this happened?"

"The hardest thing is just believing that he's really gone," she says.


"You say you feel you're slipping into depression," Dr. Phil says. "Are you afraid you're losing it?"

"I know I'm losing it. I just wish, some days, that we all would have just died with him. I feel like it would have been somewhat easier that way," she shares.

"I have no doubt that you're still in a bit of shock right now. I think you need some help," Dr. Phil tells her. He lists some of the emotions she can expect to feel during this difficult period. "You may spend days where you do nothing but cry, and that's OK. There's nothing unhealthy about that. There's nothing bad about that. You may feel so lonely that no matter if there are people around you, they just can't connect, so you kind of withdraw. They kind of withdraw because they don't know what to say to you. You're going to go through anxiety, depression, bitterness, and anger and be in kind of a fog. That's not losing it. That's just the spectrum of emotions that comes with it, and I don't want you to think that you're falling apart or you're doing something wrong."

Dr. Phil asks Sylvia to describe why she has been mad at God.

"I'm just really angry because it seems as though there are so many types of people in the world. You have horrible people who go out and rob people, kill people. They're just out to destroy people's lives. And here, we had a good man who was a good husband and a good father, and every day, he wanted to know what he could do to better his family, and he worked hard at that. I'm just angry because he had to go, not only did he have to die, but the way he died," she explains. "He could have just died peacefully in his sleep … It just seems like it was too much for a good man to have to go through, and I'm just angry about that."

"It is OK to be angry, and you have to accept that where you are at this point, is where you are. You're doing the best you can," Dr. Phil assures her. "The number one thing you've got to do is give yourself time. There's not a schedule." He also suggests she find strength in others. "This is a time when you want to reach out. This is a time when it's OK to lean on someone else." He also assures Sylvia that if she wants to lie in bed all day and feel sorry for herself, that's OK. "You have to recognize that time is finite here. You want to be there for the girls. It's not that you don't want to hold yourself to some standard, but you also have to be compassionate with yourself," Dr. Phil says.


"I think you are doing an absolutely amazing job of holding your head high, and those girls, they feel love. They feel stable," Dr. Phil says. He tells her that the day will come when she will be able to laugh again, and things will look brighter. "You've got to take care of you, because you're going to be real busy."

Sylvia is struggling to pay for bare necessities, because she says her husband's military insurance ran out 22 days before he died. She has always had a job, but can't work now because of her pregnancy. She has less than $300 to her name, and had to move in with her mother. "We both always worked. We've always provided for our own family and we've never accepted handouts from anybody. We've never needed handouts," she says.


"This is a time that you do need to lean on others some," Dr. Phil says. "It is a gift to let people help at a time when somebody whom they love, care about and admire is in a difficult time. If there's someone hurting, and you let somebody help you in some way, I promise you, it's not a burden to them; it's a kindness to them."

To help Sylvia and her daughters during this difficult time, Kroger is supplying the family with a year's worth of groceries. And, The Right Start is donating a $1,000 gift card so Sylvia can purchase items she needs for her new baby, a car seat, and two additional car seats for the twins.


"We also contacted the folks from the Works of Life Ministries," Dr. Phil tells Sylvia. "We just got with them and decided we needed to provide you with a car." She will receive a Chevy Uplander minivan, and a check for $5,000.

"This is a sweet and caring family, and a dedicated and devoted mother," Dr. Phil says of Sylvia. "This, in no way, takes away your loss, but if we can all step up and help a little, then we just wanted to do that."

"Thank you so much," Sylvia says, wiping away tears.


If you would like to help Sylvia and her daughters, click here.