I Lost My Mom & Sister in the Span of Three Years — Here's What I Learned in the Process

Losing a close family member is often a devastating experience, and it usually takes time to learn how to move forward in a positive way. But within three years of losing her mother to cancer, Dina Gachman’s sister died from an alcohol overdose, forcing her to go through the grieving process again in a short period of time. 

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she says. “My mom was hard enough. When we got the call about my sister, it was very much a feeling of, I can’t believe this is happening again.”

But Gachman says she’s grown from the experience, and writing her new book, So Sorry for Your Loss: How I Learned to Live with Grief, and Other Grave Concerns, has helped her to process what she’s been through. Here’s what she experienced—and how she’s learned to move forward.

Gachman’s mom, Cindy, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2015. The diagnosis came just five weeks before Gachman’s wedding. “I was trying to figure out if I was even going to have the wedding after that,” Gachman says. But despite knowing the severity of cancer, Gachman says she “didn’t realize at the time that the diagnosis was not good.” 

Her mother started chemotherapy, a treatment she was on fairly consistently for the next few years. Gachman lived in California at the time and her mother and father lived in Texas. “I got pregnant and couldn’t go to visit as much for a while,” she says. “My dad was the primary caregiver.” 

However, Gachman went to Texas to help care for her mom after she entered hospice care. “Caregiving is so hard,” she says. “We had to do pretty much everything, including administering medications.” Gachman remembers how difficult it felt to do anything for herself during that time. “I remember thinking of going for a run and felt like I couldn’t fathom it,” she recalls. 

Gachman’s mother died in 2018, the day before Gachman’s birthday. “It was painful,” Gachman says of losing her mom. She went back to work soon after, and was parenting a 13-month-old at the same time. “There is a lot of pressure on women and moms to keep it together and go back to work,” she says. “But about eight months later, I realized I needed help. I had a lot of anxiety.” She started therapy which she says was “a huge help” in allowing her to process her emotions around the loss.

Gachman’s sister Jackie struggled with addiction for years. Her experience with addiction to alcohol and other substances stretched back nearly two decades. “She had been in and out of rehab, and had been through detoxes,” says Gachman. “There were times we were scared to get ‘that’ call.” 

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