4 Goals I Made After Losing My Loved One

Author: Hannah Grace

Woman sits at boyfriend's headstone

Just a few days after the funeral for my boyfriend, Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, I visited his grave. I rolled out my American flag towel on the freshly laid grass, and sat there for about two hours, talking to him while enjoying the beautiful sunny Florida weather. I talked about how I was feeling — cried, laughed, shared memories — and it all led to making him four promises, which turned into goals and have helped me in my grief:

1. Never stop learning.
Forrest always supported my goals, and he used to tell me he was proud of me for going after what I want. When Forrest died, I didn’t even have my first degree yet. Just a few days before his death, my classes for the semester began. I was determined not to drop any classes because I felt if even just for an hour, doing homework would take my mind away from my grief. I finished that semester with straight As; and now two and a half years later, I am about to graduate with my second degree. I begin my third degree program this August. Even in death, he still motivates me to be my best.

2. Take care of myself physically.
Anyone who knows me also sees how dedicated I am to my health. Forrest loved that I took care of myself and took pride in it. I still remember walking into the gym, wearing one of his hats, with tears in my eyes and determined to make myself feel better. Working out is still as important to me now as it was before his death; it has made me physically and mentally stronger. I truly believe working out helped me to grieve better, and feel better – the gym was, and still is, my place to relieve stress.

3. Create inner peace and happiness.
It’s no secret that grief can plant its roots and grow within, at least it felt that way for me. For a long time I struggled to see my future without Forrest in it. Grief really took a toll on me. I wanted more than anything to feel happy again. I took it day by day, surrounded myself with friends, gave myself a moment when I needed it, focused on things that made me feel good and never lost sight of wanting to truly be happy again. I allowed my grief to walk beside me instead of within me, and in time, peace and happiness took over. Peace and happiness mean more to me than they ever have; the best things in life really are free.

4. Find love again.
When Forrest died, I was 27 years old. I wanted to find love again. Forrest would want me to love again, but I knew it would be easier said than done. This was the hardest goal I set for myself; it took time and patience for my heart to be ready for someone new. I compared each guy to Forrest, and at the end of the day none of them were him. Everyone told me when I least expected it, I would find someone — and I did. I have found love again with someone who respects my past, understands everything I have been through and continues to love me everyday unconditionally — sometimes I feel like Forrest sent him to me.

Losing someone I loved empowered me to do better and be better. I know that I have made Forrest proud because I have made myself proud. 

From the pen of…
Hannah Grace is the surviving significant other of Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, who died in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was traveling in came under enemy fire. Hannah is a sports management major, fitness enthusiast and animal lover who joined the TAPS family in 2015.