Dealing With Grief – About Dusan Nedelko 

 Originally Written: March 2, 2010

By  Hanna Trafford

Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by Hanna Trafford

Dusan Nedelko
Dusan Nedelko

This is a very difficult post for me to write – but I realized that I needed to do it, because I believe that if it will lend help to another person, it will also help me.

On Thursday, February 18th, my doorbell rang. Walking to the front door, I saw a police officer standing there and a feeling of almost panic came over me. He asked me to identify myself and informed me that my son Dusan was lost in a car accident.

The reaction cannot be described. It is in fact disbelief and shock, it is not knowing what to do next. It is dreading to tell other members of family along with wanting to scream and not being able to.

Some days have now passed and the emotions I went through are in my case incredibly mixed. In a way I was fortunate – my son lived and worked in Northern Ontario and until I went there, I did not realize what an incredible impact he had on lives of children. Through his work with troubled youth, his involvement with the Ontario Disc Golf Association – everywhere he went he touched so many lives and gave so fully of his time, his expertise and himself that I was left being incredibly proud of raising him so well.

It is a long story and I am including few links below this post – if you are interested in finding out more about Dusan.

My younger son Dan, Dusan’s wife Kara and I have decided to set up a foundation in Dusan’s name – The Dusan Nedelko Foundation to Enable Youth Through Outdoor Activity – to continue his work and to enable children through outdoor activities. It gives me a feeling of hope – it helps me cope with losing him, knowing that he would so wholeheartedly approve of our efforts.

What I feel is important at this point is to understand and share the grieving process:

It is definitely a personal and very individual experience.

Personality, coping style, faith and the nature of loss affect it greatly.

It cannot be forced or hurried and there is no time limit.

The pain will not go away if it is ignored

It is not important to “Be strong” – putting on a brave front. Showing true feeling helps you and others.

Understanding the five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger:Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions, your reaction is natural. Not everyone goes through grief the same way – and that’s OK. And you don’t have to go through each stage either to heal, do not expect to experience grief in neat order and do not worry about what you are suppsed to be feeling. Only think about what you are feeling.

Remember that there are no typical responses to loss, because there is no typical loss. Your grief is as individual as your life. And it is a roller coaster of emotions, filled with ups and downs with a rough ride in the beginning and loger and deeper downs as you go on.

Here are steps I intend to follow:

1. Get support: – Share feelings with yout family members and friends

2. Take care of myself: That includes facing my feelings and expressing them, not letting anyone tell me how I feel. It also includes looking after my physical health, understanding that mind and body are very closely connected.

3. Planning for “Grief Triggers” meaning birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc. Unless I know how I am going to celebrate these, I will be setting myself up for being on that grief roller coaster down slide.

That is all know right now. I want to ask every person out there who is or was experiencing what I am going through at this time to please share. Share with me and others how you deal with something as horrible as the loss of a child. My gratitude will forever be with you!

Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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  • Dear Hanna,
    I came to your site looking for Tea Biscuit recipes and started to get to know you.

    I am so sad to hear about your son. I wish you every good thing to help you deal with this tremendous loss.


  • Hi Hanna
    Would love to keep in touch. Remember, it is your personal journey and all I can do is let you know what has helped me, for you it has to be something that feels right for you and helps you. Do that and it will be the greatest gift you can give yourself.
    If you ever would like to chat, cry or rant my email is [email protected]
    Love & hugs Maureen

  • Dear Hanna
    My heart goes out to you and my arms wrap around you, from one bereaved mother to another. I too lost my son in an accident 3 years ago, and like you my life was turned upside down when the police arrived at my door in the middle of the night.
    It is very very early days for you and the main thing you can do right now is be very very gentle with yourself. As you say there is no right or wrong way to grieve and our responses can be so different.
    I think the foundation is a great idea, as I have coped the best by maintaining rituals that still connect me with my son, Stuart.
    This is what has helped me
    1) Journalling my feelings and writing to Stuart
    2) Keeping his ashes and photos in a locket/urn pendant that I wear all the time
    3) Getting support from The Compassionate Friends and online support groups to share
    4) Honouring my sons name and helping others who are grieving by setting up my online website and business, Esdeer
    5) Reading everything I could about what to expect from grief and how others have coped
    6) Accepting that whatever I feel is OK and that the death of my son is not something I will ever get over, but adapt to. He will always be my son and part of my life
    7) Finding ways to connect and establishing new rituals around Stuart (ie lighting a candle on certain days, donating to his favourite charity on special anniversaries, etc etc)

    Hanna – I call grief, the wildlands – it truly is. Love and Blessings


    • Dear Maureen! I have read your words over and over and can’t thank you enough for writing to me – the wildlands are still very much wild, but I am working hard on accepting what has happened, fully realizing that I have no choice. My love to you as well and hope we can stay in touch.

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