27 Lessons I’ve Learned About Life, Myself, and Death Since My Brother Died

This article is for the following individuals, the one that is struggling with a loss (with life or a change). It’s for the loved ones we’ve lost, and for the ones left behind who pick up the pieces.

Everyone deals with life and death differently. Some share it and express it, some shutdown, some crumble, and other just move forward (or pretend to). Eventually, we all move forward.

Machu Picchu-2016

I choose to focus on celebrating their lives, not their death. 

If you’ve read my Huffington Post article about How Becoming A Travel Blogger Helped Me Cope With My Brother’s Death then you’ll understand why I am writing this article. You’ll understand how I’ve learned to somehow overcome something that broke me and turned into something that has built me.

It’s been six years since my brother died. It certainly hasn’t been easy and it still isn’t easy. But I have learned a lot. Probably more than I would have ever imagined, but I really had no choice. Because when you hit rock bottom, there was only one way to go.- Up. I feel as though life gave me something so horrible, that I can now take on the world and anything that comes with it.

I might not have known it then, but looking back now I see it. 


I do believe that some of these lessons could be for anyone, regardless of losing someone or not. Some might even sound cliché, but they’re true.

I just hope this serves as either an inspiration or a motivation or even as faith for most of you.

  1. Grief-  It is real. It is a process. Everyone handles and deals with it differently. Respect that and never judge anyone for it. Learning to come to terms with the fact that you’ve lost someone you love dearly is fucking hard. Learning to understand that you won’t see or speak to them anymore is fucking hard. Don’t be so hard on yourself. And understand that it DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK TO GRIEVE. Give yourself time to heal.
  2. Depression- This is real too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I don’t think some people take it as seriously as they should. They look at it as a sign of weakness when it isn’t. It’s a mental illness and it does control your life.
  3. Moving forward (accepting)– This is the hardest. It’s part of the grieving process and is usually followed by depression and anxiety. But eventually, when you’ve done all the crying and screaming you can do you’ll learn that life goes on. Tomorrow will come. People will move on. And you do too because you have no other choice.
  4. Put down the drink. It doesn’t make the pain feel any better. 
  5. Some people don’t really give a shit– This is harsh but true. Some people do care about others. And some don’t give a shit. So don’t ask for pity and understanding. Learn to understand that each and ever individual being is different from the next and that people have lives and their own shit to deal with. Greater or smaller than yours, it doesn’t matter. It isn’t their life.
  6. It’s okay to be a little fucked up.- You’ve been through a lot. It’s okay to have scars.
  7. Unfortunately, death is part of living. People do die. We will lose lots of people in our lives and it will hurt like hell. 
  8.  It’s okay to be a little vulnerable. 
  9. YOUR FAMILY IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTER THE MOST. – Regardless of where you stand with your family, good or bad. They are the only people who truly matter.  Losing any family member would alter a change in your life.
  10. Friendships– You’ll lose some friends. Probably because they don’t know how to handle what you’re going through or how to help. It’s okay. The friends that matter most will always be there no matter what.
  11. Appreciation – This is one of the biggest lessons.  I still remind myself daily. APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE BEFORE IT’S GONE.
  12. Relationships– Learn to let someone in and be a little vulnerable because sometimes you need someone to be there.
  13. Life is short. Don’t waste your time.  – DO WHAT MAKES YOU FUCKING HAPPY. 
  14. Stop dreaming and start acting– STOP DREAMING and just do it already. Who gives a shit what people think or if you fail. At least you tried! And if you do fail, try again! Just do it differently.

    Failing at something isn’t the end of the world. – you’ll survive.

  15. Find yourself and love the shit out of it. – Figure out who you are. Learn to be comfortable with yourself. Love your love handles!  Your weird thoughts and little demons. And love the shit out of yourself. Don’t look for others to love you first or for approval, because they won’t. Oh! And if you’re weird, embrace it.- People love weird! 
  16. Take a risk– Remind yourself you’re alive every once in a while. Don’t stick to the routine.
  17. Life is unpredictable– It’s like life is kinda laughing at you when things don’t plan out how you thought they would. But the good news is that it’s okay. Because it usually means something else is coming.
  18. It’s okay to cry. When you feel like crying you should cry.- I cry all the fucking time.
  19. You are what you eat and it DOES effect your mind. 
  20. Mediation works. Learn to listen to your body.
  21. Be selfish because you deserve it. 
  22. Push yourself– Learn to push yourself. Don’t let the weather affect you. Go outside if it’s raining anyways. You won’t melt. When you have those days where you couldn’t bother to move from the bed, get out of bed. GET UP! Brush your teeth, wash your face and keep moving. Push yourself.
  23. It’s okay to be alone– Sometimes you have to be.
  24. The small stuff doesn’t matter.
  25. Life is beautiful- Life is so fucking beautiful. There are so many things to see, mountains to hike, oceans to swim in, and people to meet. Don’t ever stop thinking that this world isn’t beautiful because it is. – YOU’RE STILL HERE FOR A REASON.
  26. You will be okay– No matter how hard things get you will pull through. Just don’t give up.


  27. I’ll never stop missing my brother. I will miss him for as long as I live.- I’ve learned to cherish my memories with him and celebrate his life. 

Summer (August) 2010 in the Bahamas

*I wrote this article in memory of my brother, Luis Morilla, you are my motivation. May you rest in peace. And to my mother, father, and sister, I wouldn’t know what to do without you guys. You are my inspiration each and every day. 




  1. Harriet September 14, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Thank you for your message x

  2. Fatima September 27, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Losing a loved one is a feeling one will carry forever or at least until you meet again. It will be thirty years I lost my Dad next year and no day goes by that I dont think of him.
    I celebrate him by living my life to the fullest and appreciating every moment cos I never know when my time will be up. Hopefully I have more decades left 🙂
    Thanks for your post! Cherish your memories. ….

      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER September 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Fatima, that’s beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. But even after losing my brother I can’t imagine losing my parents. It’s hard. I can say this tho. I am sure he’s smile down (your dad) because you’re learning to live a beautiful life. Continue to do so without hesitation. It’s a beautiful life. Thank you for reaching out too. Means so much to me.

  3. LESLIE RYBISKI October 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Jen,
    I love this article.
    I have told you about loosing my sister.
    It is something I think about everyday.
    It is hard to go through life without my best friend.
    I am very fortunate to have kept contact with many of her friends through the last 20 years
    Having my young daughter helped me keep going.
    I still struggle with depression and sadness,but I get up and do the best I can.
    I started a new job, that was totally out of the blue, and sometimes way over my head.(but I can fake it…lol)
    I am lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.
    My daughter reminds me of my sister so often its scary, and great at the same time..
    We are best friends.
    Again thanks for sharing.
    much love
    and who knows maybe when I get to Costa Rica in Feb.
    you can come have a Birthday Drink with me..

      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER October 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm


      Thanks so much for sharing and I am so happy I’ve met you through my blog. Believe it or not, you give me hope and inspiration. I know I’ll never stop missing him. It’s part of who I am. But I am happy to know that life helps a little. 🙂 I hope we do get to cross paths one day! ☺️ drinks would certainly be in order.

  4. Peter Stanziano October 30, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Just so you know the might be my first comment but it isn’t the first time I’ve read this. Decided to read it again after talking with an amazing friend yesterday. That lesson about trying something even if you fail is something that was brought up in my discussion yesterday. I think I’m going to start making some changes and stepping out of that comfort zone. You are an inspiration and a great friend.

      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER October 30, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks so much Pete. I’m so happy to hear you are! 😉 go get’em!!

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