Written by Arielle Astroff

January 18th, 2020 is a day I will never forget. A day that changed my life, and the lives of many, forever. This was the day that my neighbour and family friend of twenty years unexpectedly passed away.

On that winter day, he and my dad were shovelling snow together when he collapsed on his front steps. My dad ran to call an ambulance, while my sister and his wife came out and began CPR, but it was too late. We found out later that he had a massive heart attack. This was something nobody had seen coming. My neighbour was a man in his early fifties with a very happy family life, and he always seemed to be healthy. Never in a million years did we think this would happen to him.

This death is painful to me for more reasons than I can name. He was such a caring person, and his two daughters are the same age as me and my sister. It’s also very difficult for me to process the fact that my dad was the last person to ever speak to him and see him alive.

What helps me cope with this loss is supporting my neighbour’s wife and daughters by doing small, thoughtful gestures for them. As much as I am hurt by what happened, I know it has hurt them so much more. I can’t even fathom the grieving they are going through. Supporting them any way I can is the least I can do to help them get through this difficult time.

Nothing will ever take away the hurt of this loss, but knowing that I can put a smile on their faces during these difficult times makes me feel like I am helping them heal, which in turn is helping me heal as well.