Abundant Grief

After losing parents and son, Rene Willars still has hope


Rene Willars surrounded by her family.

Grief eventually steps into someone’s life at some point in time. For mother of Brandon Willars and daughter of Damacio and Mary Lou Reyna, Rene Willars has been though horrific times. As an adult death is expected to happen, but not the loss of everyone at once.

“My heart is forever broke, and I’ll always have that part of me that always has a broken heart,” Willars said. “Sometimes when I hear people say time will heal, I don’t think it will, but I do know that I look forward to the day that I see Brandon again.” 

Brandon was 27 when he passed away due to a car accidentHe was on his way home early morning, and he veered off into a guardrail. 

His mother finds so much joy in his four-year-old daughter Elise Marie Willars.  

“Somedays it’s hard to see Ellie because I think back to Brandon at that age and then other days, she’s our light, you know, so it’s kind of mixed emotions,” Willars said. “I never know which one I’m going to feel, but it’s very mixed emotions some daysespecially to see her doing things and learning things. It’s hard to see that right now because it makes me think of Brandon and what he’s not here to see.” 

Willars also lost her mother, Mary Lou Reyna, the year before her son due to cirrhosis in the liver and other medical complications. Willars had a mother/daughter bond with Reyna and was taught morals and how to tell someone off when you know they are doing something wrong by Reyna. Willars had hard times and fun times with her mother but seeing her own mother suffering in the hospital and not looking like the same person she was before broke Willars heart. 

“To see Nana, go from being so used to doing things on her own and getting up and going to Ohio and then her illness hit her, and she couldn’t do stuff like that, so I think that it was hard to see that change in Nana,” Willars said. “I miss her boldness, I miss her personality, she was just cut and dry. That was something she taught me. And I don’t think any of us can stand up to what Nana was.” 

Willars lost her father in 2002, unexpectedly. He was 59. The day after Willars’ sister’s wedding he had a heart attack. Willars said her father was the balance of her family. He lived a simple life and was very level-headed. 

“I think Popo’s value was so simple, and I miss that,” Willars said.  

Willars’ faith give her hope that she will be reunited with her family someday, but for now Willars surrounds herself with close family and friends.  

“I find myself where all I think about is Brandon the loss of Brandon and I miss Nana and I love Nana, but the loss of Brandon overpowers the loss of Nana, and I don’t like when that happens,” Willars said. “It feels like Ive forgotten Nana and I haven’t forgotten Nana, so that’s a hard balance. And I have to believe that someday I’ll see Brandon again and I look forward to that day.”