Becky and Steve Bolich’s son and Megan’s brother, Nate was killed in a car accident in 2017. In the weeks and months that followed his passing, they became keenly aware that while well intended, most people don’t know how to interact with people who have recently dealt with the loss of a loved one.
Megan: My brother.
Steve: My son.
Becky: My son.
Steve: Nate was a kindhearted, gentle-spirited type of guy. He was always incredibly respectful.
Becky: He just was a unique kid. He was a caregiver. He loved me. He was my boy.
Megan: He loved music so much but he also then had a completely different side to him where he loved the country and the outdoors and fishing and hard work. I think the biggest thing I miss is just the ability to have my big brother around to be able to call and say hey this is what’s going on.
It has affected our family a lot. We all deal with it differently and at different times and I’m thankful because if we were all dealing with it at the same time I feel like our family would fall apart. It’s usually just one person and we all just take a step back and try to figure out ok this is what that person’s going through and accept that some days they are having a bad day and taking anger and understanding that they might not be mad at you, it’s really grief.
Becky: As a mom, Megan has been my biggest concern. Megan lost her best friend, she lost her brother who was always there. I feel like I watch her from a perspective of “is she ok?” Is this just a normal teenage situation or is she grieving? I second-guess myself a lot with raising Megan now.
Steve: We spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot. Cried a lot, together. I guess one surprising part would be just the fact that life didn’t end when Nate died. It keeps going.
Becky: I felt like we had to get the attention off of us, and to help other people. We’re going to be leaving and we’re going to moving into that boarding school and we’re going to be house parents to disadvantaged children.
Steve: It’s a big change I mean once you have your family and you have your job, there’s not a whole lot of new beginnings for you or for you and your spouse. You're locked in. The new beginnings are things that are happening with your kids and everything else and this is like a new beginning for... us. There’s a nervous excitement to that.
Megan: It took me until a few months ago to realize that grief never quite ends. It’s still a pretty big part of my life and I think I’m starting to wrap my head around the thought that it will always be a part of my life. It’s just getting better at handling it and dealing with it whenever it does pop up.
I can drive right by where Nate wrecked on the way home, or I can choose another way, I typically now choose another way, but the one day I was driving by after having a good day at school, I remember looking off at the Roopsburg And I almost felt bad, because I thought, “Life is just going on, maybe almost too easily. I felt like I’m just forgetting Nate, leaving him behind.
Being a man of faith and spending a lot of time in prayer, and just giving God credit for a lot of getting through this ... I think I’d be disingenuous if I did not, feeling the thought that hit me of, "You’re not leaving Nate behind. Nate finished the course. Nate’s already at the end,” and every day I’m just a day closer, I’m not wishing my life away but, I’m working to get to where he already is. That just helped reshape my perspective on the whole situation.
I think with that is just understanding that grief does keep going and it never truly is gone and even down the road you can keep dealing with it. I think it’s just when you see someone that’s happy it’s because they’re in a good spot and they’re not dealing with it in the moment. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s really hard because I think people go through such good times and I think have such a good control of their grief that they’re able to be happy and I think that’s hard for people to understand ’cause I think they do think that grief goes away eventually. I think that's a huge misconception of grief is that it’s something you deal with and once it’s gone it never comes back, but that’s just not the reality of it. One day I can be happy, the same day I can be sad, Some days I would just wake up and I’ll be sad and it’ll be like the first day I found out, and other days I’ll wake up and I’ll just be angry about the situation or any time I’m driving and I see an accident or I see an ambulance, I get that same sick feeling in my stomach and the only thing I can think of is that situation and the fact that someone could be going through that.
Megan: When Nate first passed away, a huge point of tension in my family was Nate’s room and Nate’s stuff.
Steve: That was one where I think Becky and I differed a little bit. I wanted to keep his room as it was, like a mausoleum, or just, everything in there in some way reminded you of Nate and I would have been fine just to say, “Let’s just leave it there as it is, forever.”
Megan: We didn’t want to touch it, we didn’t want to get rid of anything, but then there were also some people who did want to get rid of certain things or who were holding on way too tight to other things, and so there was a lot of arguing and some of us just put our foot down and we said, “We’re not touching it at all.”
Becky: The three of us left in the house after Nathan died had different visions for that room. Me, I’m an organizer, and so I wanted to get in and clean it right away. And I did, and I threw some of the things away and gave some things of his away that I later regretted and my family did not want me to get rid of. I soon realized after throwing away some things and getting rid of some things that my family felt were... it was not time to get rid of, I just had to put that hold. So I just organized it and we kept it the same for... actually, just until a few months ago.
Steve: Slowly it got to a point where, well, that’s now Megan’s bedroom. She wanted that room and we went through Nate’s things slowly and packed them up and there were just certain things that we wanted to say that doesn’t get messed with, Then we cleaned out the room to the degree that we painted everything and just gave that room a new beginning.
Becky: We made it hers. We took out anything that really looked like Nathan’s. She kept his bedroom...his dresser, but she’s now sleeping in his room, which I think is a really a big part in her healing also.
Megan: We have changed a lot about it and now it’s my room and I’m living in it. That’s been really crazy, but we changed the walls and we kept some of his little ... like lamp and stuff like that, but for the most part it’s all kind of changed, and now we’ve just put Nate memories throughout our house.
Don’t fight it. If I feel emotional, if, say, I have to drive the other way to work where I drive by where he crashed and it gets me choked up, gets me thinking about him, don't fight it. Roll with the process. Go through it. Let the emotions go through. They’re going to come out, and I almost find it, afterward, refreshing. When I do that, when I have those times, those moments something happens, I see something, we do something that gets me thinking about Nate, I just try to embrace it.